Instacart Retail

Meet Customers Where They Shop: Master Your Order Fulfillment Strategy



Jul 26, 2022

Retailers are driven to serve the customer. While retailers’ individual goals may vary, their shared, overarching mission is to complete every transaction to 100% of the customer’s satisfaction. This hasn’t changed – what has changed is the market environment.

It’s no longer enough to successfully serve consumers at your shop. You must also serve them where they want to shop – whether that’s in-store or online. When shopping online, 85% of consumers prefer to receive their grocery orders in two hours or less. Furthermore, nearly one-third of customers will abandon their online shopping cart if they don’t see the delivery time they want.

Consumer demands are only expanding, so retailers need an order fulfillment strategy that solves for fulfillment and growth at scale. This end-to-end, omnichannel solution must ensure a positive experience that is seamless, repeatable, and invisible to the consumer by integrating:

  • Staffing and labor logistics
  • Multiple pickup and delivery options
  • Retail shoppers and worker connectivity
  • Inventory management and fulfillment

Today, 96% of customers expect their histories, requirements, and interests to move fluidly across channels, so that they can get to what they want quickly. In this “new normal,” retailers must make sure every order – whether in-store, online, or a hybrid – meets customers’ evolving expectations and builds retention, basket size, conversion, and revenue.

Illustration of a hand holding a stopwatch, explaining that 32% of customers abandoned a purchase because the estimated delivery time was too long, leaving room for optimizing order fulfillment strategy.

Good news about bad orders

Before discussing order fulfillment strategies and solutions, we should take a moment to clearly define the key problem: bad orders. While we’ve all personally experienced bad orders, they are characterized by the following criteria:

  • Unapproved replacements: the customer ordered one brand and received another without approval.
  • Low found rate: the customer wasn’t able to get the brands, or products, they ordered.
  • Late delivery: the order is delivered after the customer’s desired time window by 15 minutes or more.
  • Low-star rating: the customer rates the experience poorly, based on the above factors.

You’ll note that the first three criterias typically involve the retailer’s performance, while the last is the consumer’s personal assessment of that performance.

To improve your customer’s experience, it’s imperative that you minimize the number of bad orders. This demands a solution that improves found rate, inventory data, replacements, and shopper effectiveness.

An infographic illustration of the criteria for a bad order: unapproved replacements, low found rate, late delivery, and low star rating.

4 Strategies to prevent bad orders and improve fulfillment

1. Empower your customers

Customers desire choice not just in the brands and products they buy, but how they buy them. It’s important to provide them with delivery options and transparency throughout their shopping experience. This includes expedited delivery, so customers can get their orders faster, or next-day delivery or curbside pickup, which give customers lower-cost alternatives.

2. Strengthen fulfillment

Reasonably, customers expect to receive the products they order. Providing a solution that seamlessly satisfies customer demands, enables flexible staffing, and provides visibility into inventory availability can help retailers fulfill orders — and expectations. This leads to an enhanced shopping experience for customers and working experience for your staff.

3. Dynamically manage inventory

Manage real-time inventory for online orders, providing customers with an accurate, up-to-date view of what products are available in order to reduce order cancellations and optimize inventory.

4. Maximize profitability through performance

Many times, driving profitability and growth involves simply improving performance on existing tasks. Whether customers are shopping in-store or online, providing accurate delivery times across your operations improves the customer experience, driving higher conversions and sales. Also, offering related products can help enhance the customer experience and drive upsell opportunities.

A real-world order fulfillment strategy

While every retailer shares many commonalities, each retail brand — even each banner’s brick-and-mortar location — is unique, with its own set of opportunities and challenges.

At Instacart, we provide a flexible, customizable, and customer-centric order fulfillment strategy that is purpose-built to create long-term customer retention and sales for your store. Our full-stack, end-to-end fulfillment capabilities offer a wide range of options that can be seamlessly integrated into your existing system, including:

  • Real-time shopper-customer communication
  • Multiple delivery options, such as long distance and priority
  • Curbside pickup
  • Improved replacement functionality

From there, we offer customizable features that let you personalize our solutions to your situation.

Innovation isn’t easy or inexpensive, especially for retailers who frequently operate on razor-thin margins. We provide solutions that accelerate time-to-value for incorporating innovation, enhancing your owned and operated properties.

Our focus is on improving your customers’ experience. To that end, we provide your customers with their choice of fulfillment method, platform, and speed — providing greater visibility and control. From beginning to end, we power the entire experience with a digitally retail-branded site, personalized shopping platform, and post-purchase confidence.

Here are innovative ways Instacart can improve your order fulfillment process for customers, however they like to shop.

  • Carrot Pickup (curbside/in-store) provides a low-cost alternative to delivery for customers, an additional revenue stream for retailers, and more opportunities for shoppers to earn. Instacart Pickup offers a comprehensive selection, better value than delivery, and fast and flexible fulfillment options for a seamless pickup experience.
  • Instacart Fulfillment offers world-class fulfillment solutions for all e-commerce channels, facilitating delivery for a retailer’s entire catalog with exceptional quality and efficiency, at competitive prices.
  • Store Manager App provides insight and control over the store’s operations at the manager’s fingertips, and helps staff deliver pickup orders on time and at high quality.
An illustrated map of the United States showcasing the Instacart Shopper App's nationwide reach, reading "We stay competitive by keeping you competitive" with subtext "With the Shopper App, Instacart shoppers can pick and deliver groceries across thousands of locations nationwide."

Get started on your own order fulfillment strategy with Instacart.



Instacart is the leading online grocery platform in North America, partnering with more than 750 beloved national, regional and local retailers, including unique brand names, to deliver from more than 70,000 stores across more than 5,500 cities in North America. To read more Instacart posts, you can browse the company blog or search by keyword using the search bar at the top of the page.

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