The Instacart Platform: Powering the Future of Grocery
Today, we’re announcing The Instacart Platform: a new suite of enterprise-grade technologies to power the future of grocery. Our goal is to help retailers create a better consumer experience no matter how people choose to shop.
To understand how we got here, it helps to go back to where we started.
Act 1: Bringing Grocery Online
Instacart was founded 10 years ago to bring grocery shopping online. At the time, consumers were used to getting everything from shoes to music delivered with the touch of a button. But grocery shopping was largely offline.
So we built the Instacart App, becoming the first company to make online grocery shopping affordable and accessible to families across North America. From the very beginning, we knew people wanted to do their weekly shopping from grocers they loved and trusted. Over the next decade, we signed up more than 750 retail banners with more than 70,000 stores serving millions of families with same-day delivery.
We also focused on creating a differentiated consumer experience. We helped people look for their favorite products, built an innovative ad business that inspired people to try new brands, connected people to our dedicated shopper community, and did it all at scale without losing our focus on what mattered most: helping retailers and customers build deeper relationships.
We also realized that if we wanted to truly put grocery retailers first, we needed to think beyond the Instacart App — which led to our second act.
Act 2: Storefronts and Fulfillment for our Retail Partners
As more retailers experienced the difference Instacart could make, they started asking us to help them build custom digital storefronts uniquely tailored to their customers. So we did.
We helped Publix, Wegmans, The Fresh Market and more than 100 other retailers build their own websites and apps, powered by Instacart technology. In some cases, we also helped our partners do things that weren’t possible in the physical world — like build virtual convenience stores to deliver nationwide in 30 minutes. Today, nearly one out of every five Instacart orders comes from the website or app of one of our retail partners, powered by our tech.
Along the way, consumer expectations changed. People wanted new ways to connect with every retailer and get personalized recommendations, multiple delivery options, and a seamless experience online and in-store. So we moved from a focus exclusively on the weekly shop to serving more use cases like monthly bulk stock-up, convenience, and alcohol. We took on catering with our acquisition of FoodStorm. We enabled every delivery window, from 30-minutes to two-hour to next-day. We made grocery delivery more accessible by accepting EBT SNAP payments. Every time, we brought these innovations not just to our own Instacart App, but to the websites and properties of our grocers as well.
We also expanded our expertise from e-commerce to physical stores. We don’t think the future of grocery is about choosing between online and offline. It’s about helping customers find food they love from retailers they trust, no matter where they are or how they choose to shop. That’s why we acquired Caper – a leading AI-powered shopping cart and checkout technology platform – back in October. And it’s why we’ll keep investing in tools and technology that help retailers embrace their digital transformation across their stores and online properties.
The technologies required to power a grocery operation are only getting more complex as consumer needs continue to evolve. Our retailers expect us to simplify this complex landscape and help them build a technology advantage without distracting them from their core business – which leads to our third act.
Act 3: The Instacart Platform
Digital transformation is hard. That’s why we believe the grocery industry needs a set of modular solutions that help solve the most complex challenges facing grocers today.
The Instacart Platform is a new suite of enterprise-grade tools built to power the future of grocery. With the Instacart Platform, more retailers will be able to use the same technology behind our consumer marketplace to power their own websites, apps, and retail operations. And they’ll be able to leverage Instacart’s decade of insight into how people shop for groceries. Some retailers will choose to use some of these technologies a-la-carte, while others might benefit from having all of these solutions on one connected platform that works seamlessly across channels.
The Instacart Platform includes:
- E-commerce: We’re continuing to build world class storefronts and services – from product discovery tools, to merchandising, to different payment models, to loyalty as a service. And for the first time, these services will also be available for retailers to use on their own websites, even if they don’t use our storefront technology.
- Fulfillment: Through our community of dedicated shoppers, we’re already helping retailers fulfill grocery orders directly from their store. Today, we’re launching an additional fulfillment solution: Carrot Warehouses, which helps retailers manage dedicated nano facilities to deliver in as fast as 15 minutes — a service that will be available to Publix customers in Atlanta and Miami in the coming months.
- In-store: We’re helping retailers enhance the brick-and-mortar store experience with connected hardware like Caper Carts that enable AI-powered scanless shopping, and technology to help run store operations.
- Ads: Today we’re announcing Carrot Ads, which brings the best of Instacart advertising to retailers’ own e-commerce sites. Carrot Ads opens up new revenue streams for retailers by making it extremely easy to stand up a retail media business. We’re currently piloting this with Schnucks, Good Food Holdings, Plum Market, and other select retailers, with plans to roll it out more broadly later this year.
- Insights: Today we’re launching Carrot Insights, which gives retailers near real-time visibility into their operations. With key metrics like item popularity, item correlation, order sizes, delivery times, delivery ratings, and GMV, Carrot Insights will help retailers optimize operations, and provide better customer experiences.
At Instacart, we always start with understanding what consumers want, and then build enterprise-grade technology that allows retailers to meet those needs. Our primary goal is to make it possible for any grocer, large or small, to navigate the digital transformation and serve their customers better in all of the ways they choose to shop.
Because grocery is about more than just putting food on the table. Grocers are at the heart of vibrant communities — connecting us, nourishing us, sustaining us. We don’t want the future of grocery to be faceless, bland, and commoditized. We want to give each grocer the tools they need to differentiate themselves and bring to life what makes them special.
At Instacart, we’re focusing on the tech so our partners can focus on the care and craft of grocery. Because together, we can build a future that is personal, connected, seamless, convenient, and more fun for everyone.
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