Company Updates

Instacart 2022: A Feast of Grocery Innovations and Upgrades 

Asha Sharma

Asha Sharma

Dec 21, 2022

Imagine that you’re grocery shopping. Now imagine being able to shop 24/7, selecting from one billion items, and being able to access inventory that updates 3,000 times per second– and checking out alongside millions of other customers every week.  In 2022, that grocery shopping experience was powered by the retailers on Instacart.  

We’ve worked hard this year to deliver a seamless online shopping experience that lets customers make purchases from their favorite retailers on an unprecedented scale. We’ve also tried to meet ever-evolving consumer shopping needs. People might be able to wait a couple of hours for their weekly shop, but they also need popcorn in 30 minutes or less for an impromptu family movie night. Sometimes they might want to buy groceries on their phones and sometimes they prefer to shop in the store. And no matter where they shop, they want grocers to understand their tastes and preferences and offer a seamless, personalized experience. 

In 2022 we got a lot closer to our goal of helping people build a cart for every moment, available the same day. And we did it by delivering a veritable feast of upgrades to our products — from enabling reduced delivery times to increased found rates, value-driven promotions to automated order options, personalized health plans and same-day delivery on everything from office supplies to sporting goods. 

Along the way, we helped save customers more than 600 million hours they would have spent walking store aisles themselves — hours they were able to spend doing everything else on their to-do list, or better yet: simply enjoying time with their families.

Here’s a peek at some of the changes we made this year.

Access & Affordability

In 2022, inflation raised the price of everything from daily essentials to Thanksgiving dinner. We’ve always believed that online grocery shouldn’t be a luxury, and this year we worked to make it more accessible than ever before — with new features and partnerships designed to help people save. We also wanted to help people access food that’s affordable and healthy. So we launched Instacart Health, a new initiative and suite of products designed to increase nutrition security, make healthy choices easier, and help people think differently about the relationship between food and health. 


Expanding Food Access 

  • Expanding EBT / SNAP: This year, we became one of the largest EBT SNAP payments platforms in the United States expanding to more than 70 retailers and unique banners across 8,000 stores in 49 states and Washington, DC. We also announced our commitment to work with the USDA to expand EBT SNAP payment access to Instacart grocery partners in all 50 states. 
  • Providing access to food deserts: Between our standard service expansions and new Instacart Health initiatives, we’re proud to share that Instacart now reaches more than 93% of individuals living in U.S. food deserts. 
  • Instacart+ for SNAP: This week, we introduced a discounted Instacart+ membership at $4.99/month (50% off) for 12 months for anyone who has used an EBT SNAP card to purchase groceries on Instacart in the past six months. With Instacart+, SNAP households can access free delivery and Pickup on orders over $35, 5% credit back on Pickup orders, and reduced service fees on every order. 
  • Pickup: Using Instacart’s Pickup option is a great way to save, and this year we worked to greatly expand this service. Pickup is now available at more than 130 grocery banners, including unique brand names like ALDI, Food Lion, Gelson’s, Publix, Price Chopper, Schnucks, Shop ‘n Save, Sprouts, The Fresh Market, Wegmans.
  • Community Carts: Ahead of the holidays, we rolled out Community Carts — a new feature that reimagines traditional food drives. In partnership with Feeding America, Community Carts makes it easy for people to donate groceries that food banks need most – right from the Instacart App.
  • Care Carts:We designed Care Carts to allow healthcare providers, nonprofits and caregivers to order groceries on behalf of patients and other people who need them. In September, we teamed up with Feeding America to put Care Carts to use by sending fresh food and supplies directly to people who are confined to their homes after a disaster. 
  • Fresh Funds: Fresh Funds allows any organization – from non-profits, to employers, to insurance companies and health systems – to help people buy nutritious food from grocery retailers on our platform. Over time, our hope is that Fresh Funds will help more people access healthy foods and incentivize healthy habits. We also launched a Fresh Funds pilot with Partnership for a Healthier America to help scale their Good Food for All nutrition incentive program. 
  • Health Tags: With Health Tags, customers can now view up to 23 item-level labels while they shop. Whether they’re interested in low-salt or low-sugar products, following the Keto diet, or managing a gluten sensitivity, they’ll now be able to find relevant information about more than 500,000 items in the Instacart catalog.
  • Shoppable Carts Curated by Health Experts: We expanded on our shoppable Carts feature to enable nutritionists and dietitians to offer their clients personalized, collaborative and immediately actionable nutrition plans in the Instacart App.  
  • Expanding our Healthy Recipe Library: This year, we expanded our library of healthy recipes by adding a robust collection of new recipes from Hearst Magazine wellness brands like Women’s Health, Men’s Health and Prevention magazines. We also partnered with Found, the largest weight care clinic in the United States focused on personalized behavior change and biology, to make their expert-developed nutrition guidance and recipes shoppable via Instacart. 

Offering More Savings with Instacart+

  • Instacart+: In 2022, we relaunched our membership program — previously known as Instacart Express — with free delivery on orders over $35, reduced service fees, and more savings opportunities. 
  • Family Accounts: Alongside the launch of Instacart+, we introduced Family Accounts, a new way to share all of the benefits of Instacart+ with another family member for free. 
  • 5% Credit Back on Pickup Orders: Pickup continued to grow in 2022, and we love passing Pickup savings along to Instacart customers and extra credit for Instacart+ members.
  • Chase Partnership: This year, we expanded our partnership with Chase to give customers new ways to save. Chase customers can also earn up to $180 in statement credits per year when they shop on Instacart.

Additional Savings Opportunities

  • No Rush Delivery: Sometimes people are willing to wait a bit if it means saving money. So we introduced a flexible delivery option that gives customers a $2 discount when they check out with a 3-hour schedule-ahead delivery window.
  • The Instacart Mastercard: We debuted our first-ever co-branded credit card in partnership with Chase and Mastercard, giving cardmembers 5% cash back on purchases from our retailers and 2% cash back on gas and select streaming services. 
  • Buy Now, Pay Later: We launched a partnership with Klarna that gives customers more options to pay for same-day delivery on everything from home improvement to beauty and bulk purchases.
  • More Retailer Loyalty Programs: We started to roll out new retail loyalty programs in the Instacart App, allowing customers to input their membership information with specific retailers to unlock exclusive savings and earn rewards. 
  • OrderUp: We also launched a feature that allows people to add items from additional retailers to their original grocery order, with no additional delivery fee.
  • “Give $20, Get $10”: Customers who referred someone to Instacart may notice that we increased our referral reward from $10 to $20 for the first 30 redemptions.
  • Promotions: We rolled out a new suite of advertising solutions to help brand partners offer customers more value and savings as they shop across the Instacart Marketplace.
  • FSA and HSA-Eligible Tags: To help people maximize their FSA and HSA benefits, we added labels to identify about 40,000 products from their favorite retailers that are FSA/HSA-eligible.
  • FSA and HSA Pop-Up Shop: We inspired people to put their FSA and HSA funds to work by showcasing a selection of FSA/HSA-eligible products from our retail partners on the Instacart homepage.

Convenience

If there’s one thing we know about Instacart customers, it’s that they’re a busy bunch. That means they want easy access to the widest selection of food, beauty, home goods, and electronics — all with faster delivery times. So in 2022, we rebuilt our entire app to get people what they need when they need it.  We also know that where people shop matters: they love to shop from retailers they trust, and we want to build convenient tools for these retailers that help them better serve their customers. This year we doubled down on our commitment to being a retail enablement partner with the introduction of Instacart Platform, and laid the groundwork for our vision of a connected store of the future that blends the convenience and personalization of online shopping with everything people love about their favorite grocery store.  

 

New Ways to Shop

  • Family Carts: Alongside the launch of Instacart+, we made it possible for members of the same household to shop together, adding their own items to a shared cart and making weekly meal planning more fun.
  • Faster delivery times: Whether it’s a last minute dinner ingredient delivered in 30 minutes or less or stopping at the store to pick up the weekly shop, we’ve expanded our suite of fulfillment solutions to meet every customer’s needs–including expanded virtual convenience options and ultrafast delivery in as fast as 15 minutes.  
  • Prepared Meals: This year, we made it easy for people to order fresh, healthy and cost-effective alternatives to restaurant takeout from their favorite grocers. 
  • Auto-Order: In 2022, we rolled out a feature that allows customers to automate their weekly shopping.

More Selection Than Ever Before

  • Bringing independent grocers online and expanding partnerships: We increased our retail footprint to now reach more than 1,000 retail brands across the U.S. and Canada. From new retailers to expanded partnerships, we introduced new shopping options from beloved local and independent grocers – bringing the total number of stores on Instacart to more than 75,000.
  • Going beyond grocery: This year we also expanded our non-grocery offerings, and new retailers like Lowe’s and Michaels Canada and joined favorites like Best Buy, Petco, Sephora, and Staples to unlock same-day delivery on everything from appliances and garden essentials to crafting and art supplies.
  • Big & Bulky: Need moving supplies, outdoor furniture, game-day bulk food items, or large electronics delivered? No problem! This summer, we launched Big & Bulky — giving customers the option of same-day and scheduled delivery for large items, and helping retailers bring more of their catalogs online.
  • Live Christmas Tree Delivery: Decking the halls has never been easier with same-day delivery of fresh-cut trees up to 5 feet tall from a variety of retailers. Add that to Instacart’s inventory of decorations, wreaths, and wrapping paper and customers can get the holiday spirit delivered straight to their door.
  • Canada: We added more than 20 new Canadian retailers including Dollarama, Galleria Supermarket, Linen Chest, Metro, Rexall, The Bay and more, expanding our countrywide footprint by 60%. We now partner with the top five grocers in Canada, making Instacart available to over 90% of Canadian households. 

Bringing Innovation to Retailers and Brands

  • Instacart Platform: In March, we introduced a suite of enterprise-grade technologies to power the future of grocery, helping retailers create a better consumer experience no matter how their customers choose to shop. We brought existing capabilities together – such as our storefront solutions and fulfillment APIs – and launched new offerings:
    • Carrot Ads: Opens up new digital revenue streams for retailers by bringing the best of Instacart advertising – including the company’s industry leading technology, products, engineering and sales talent, and data insights – to retailers’ owned and operated e-commerce sites.
    • Carrot Warehouses: Helps retailers create more flexible, local fulfillment models to unlock new capabilities such as delivery in minutes.
    • Carrot Insights: Gives retailers near real-time visibility into their operations to help them make informed, proactive business decisions.
  • Dynamic Pricing Testing with Eversight: Our new friends at Eversight, who joined us in September, use machine learning to power their dynamic pricing platform, which lets brands and retailers continuously test customized pricing and promotions directly with their individual customers at scale– unlocking better promotions and prices for customers that help them maximize their savings. 
  • Supporting Independent Grocers with Rosie: We also welcomed Rosie to the Instacart family in September.  Rosie offers local and independent grocers affordable and easy-to-use branded e-commerce websites and mobile app capabilities that power order flow, fulfillment, and customer insights.  With their help, we hope to expand our partnership with beloved local grocers in 2023 and beyond.

Imagining the Connected Store

  • The new Caper Cart: We launched an AI-powered smart cart equipped with scales, sensors, touchscreens, and computer vision technology that helps customers navigate stores, scan as they shop, and check out right from the cart.
  • Scan & Pay: At select retailers, customers can now scan items as they shop and pay for them just by using their phones. Scan & Pay also links the items they buy in-store to their online accounts, so it’s easier to buy them again.
  • Carrot Tags: Carrot Tags connect with electronic shelf labels to make finding products and learning about new ones easier than ever before. 

Inspiration

People don’t just want to get the items on their list faster. They also want to be inspired to try something new. So in 2022, we served up recipes and shopping inspiration in the Instacart app and beyond, allowing customers to discover new products, plan their meals, and get everything they need quickly and easily.  From shoppable recipe integrations with TikTok to new ad formats in the Instacart app, we made grocery shopping a little more fun this year.

 

Inspiring Customers in the Instacart App…

  • Pop-Ups: Pop-Ups are digital aisles full of inspiration. This summer, our inaugural Pop-Up – the Unilever Ice Cream Shop – helped folks beat the heat with cool treats delivered to their door.
  • Carts: Celebrity Carts allow customers to discover new products and recommendations from celebrities, retailers, and creators – and have them delivered the same day. Flute-playing phenom Lizzo hosted our first-ever Cart with her favorite vegan picks. Football star JuJu Smith-Schuster and artists P!NK and Ciara have shared their Carts, too.
  • Shoppable Video Ads: We helped brands combine the storytelling power of video with an in-line set of shoppable products to shorten the path from discovery to purchase.
  • Shoppable Display Ads: In 2022, we rolled out custom, shoppable ads that offer a more immersive way for brands to tell stories, engage their customers, and drive sales.
  • Pages: We also launched free dedicated landing pages that allow brand partners to create a curated, shoppable destination to showcase their products.
  • Taste Survey: We started rolling out Taste Surveys to give people an opportunity to tell us about their dietary preferences and family composition, enabling us to generate more personalized recommendations for newer users.  
  • Home Feed: We completely redesigned the home screen experience on the Instacart app to showcase categories like “holiday baking needs” and “fall beauty”, and offer timely, curated product suggestions.
  • Smart Shelves: We’re offering more personalized recommendations in the search function and new shopping categories like beauty, pets, and home goods that people may not know about.

…and Beyond

  • Shoppable Recipes: Through partnerships with publishers and social media platforms like Delish and TikTok, we made it possible for food creators to make their recipes shoppable on Instacart in just a few taps. 
  • Instacart Tastemakers: We’re “sharing a piece of the pie” through a new program that allows food content creators to make money when their fans purchase items using Instacart.
  • Apple and Google integrations:  We launched a native “Order” button on Apple Maps, giving people the option to easily order delivery or curbside pick-up from their favorite retailers on Instacart. We also launched a limited release feature with Google Assistant to allow Android users to seamlessly add ingredients to Instacart from any recipe website they visit. 

Quality

It takes a lot to keep the Instacart service running. That’s why this year, we made a number of changes to make the Instacart experience as reliable and seamless as possible – especially during supply chain disruptions and inventory shortages. We used machine learning to help retailers and customers figure out which items were available and choose reliable replacement items when necessary, gave customers a better sense of delivery times, and improved the taxonomy of the more than one billion items in the Instacart catalog.  

Everyday Shopping Improvements

  • Weights & Measures: Leveraging enhancements to our catalog data, we shipped new features to help customers order and shoppers pick the correct quantity,  particularly for tricky weighted items like produce and meat– resulting in fewer order issues and more satisfied customers. Now when a customer orders something like steak, they’ll be less confusion about whether they want two pounds of steak, or two steaks at half a pound each.
  • Quality Guarantee: We expanded our quality guarantee that lets Instacart customers place orders with peace of mind: if you experience any issues around damaged or missing items, poor item replacement, late arrival or unprofessional service your order is now eligible for a refund or credit. 
  • Machine Learning:  In 2022, we used this tech in lots of new ways, from fulfillment to ads and beyond. At the heart of our ML efforts was Griffin, our machine learning platform that helped us triple the number of machine learning applications we deployed this year.
  • Real-time Availability: We switched to a machine-learning model with over 100 features and deep integrations with retailers to predict inventory availability on a per store, per region, per state, per retailer basis. We now use this model to get a near real-time (minutes, not hours!) assessment of in-store inventory and adjust the shopping experiences accordingly, presenting replacement items when our analysis shows real-time availability to be low.
  • Replacements: We’ve built structured chats and machine learning models to auto-select replacement items based on 20+ item features. In 2022, our replacement algorithms supported over 300 million replacements with a 95% customer replacement satisfaction rate! 
  • Dynamic Delivery ETAs: We improved delivery ETAs by taking into account basket size during the calculation.
  • Improved Pickup ETAs: This year, we improved Pickup ETAs in the app to give people a down-to-the-minute window of when their order would be ready for pickup at their favorite store. 
  • Catalog updates: Our Catalog teams process over three billion rows of inventory data per day to keep storefronts up to date. This year, we launched a new streaming platform that reduced processing latency by 69%. We also improved latency for Storefront Pro catalogs by 95%.
Asha Sharma

Asha Sharma

As the COO of Instacart, Asha oversees the Instacart Marketplace, which includes the Instacart App, Instacart Logistics, Growth and Marketing. She also focuses on engaging new and returning customers as Instacart continues to serve as a lifeline for millions of people across North America. Asha is known for building strong teams in high growth environments and creating product experiences that are beloved by people around the world. She joined Instacart from Facebook, where she was Vice President of Product for many of the company’s private communications products across Facebook, Messenger, and Instagram. During her time at Facebook, Asha also previously served as VP of Product for Messenger, and before that, as Head of Product for Social Impact. Before Facebook, Asha was the COO of Porch.com, where she spent years building the business from the ground up and was responsible for helping scale the company’s operations, product, marketing, and growth. Prior to joining Porch, she worked in marketing and operations at Microsoft. Asha is focused on ensuring we’re building products that people love and putting customers at the forefront of our decision making across the entire company.

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