There's yet another option for Chattanoogans who'd rather have someone else do their grocery shopping.
Instacart, a San Francisco-based startup company that's in more than 80 U.S. markets, on Friday will kick off delivery service here.
It will offer a free, "no-strings-attached," one-year subscription to Instacart Express — unlimited, same-day delivery for orders of more than $35 from Publix, Whole Foods Market, Costco and Petco.
"It's great for a wide range of people," said Instacart area manager Jennifer O'Shaughnessy, who started working for the company three years ago as a shopper. "The bulk of my customer base was busy, working people. A lot of people looked at it as a convenience, not really a high-end luxury."
Instacart service areas include the city of Chattanooga, Red Bank, Soddy-Daisy, Lakesite, Ooltewah, East Brainerd, Tyner, Middle Valley, Falling Water, Metro Park, Alpine Heights, East Ridge, Signal Mountain, Lone Oak, Fairmount, Walden, Harrison, Ridgeside and Summer Haven.
"Over the past year we've seen incredible demand in the Chattanooga area," Instacart general manager Nick Friedrich said in a news release.
Here's how Instacart works: Customers go online to www.Instacart.com or open the Instacart mobile app on their iPhone or Android device, select their city and store, add items to a virtual cart, then choose a delivery window (within one hour, within two hours, or up to seven days in advance) and check out.
An Instacart shopper accepts the order on his or her smartphone, uses the Instacart shopper app to guide them through shopping, pays with a credit card provided by Instacart, and then delivers the order to the customer within the designated delivery timeframe.
Instacart's Chattanooga delivery area will cover more than 125,000 residents.
Instacart offers customers a free, one-year subscription for Instacart Express (offer expires Aug. 3) which offers unlimited free grocery delivery for orders over $35. After the initial free year trial, the cost of Instacart Express membership is up to $149 a year or $14.99 a month. New customers can go to www.Instacart.com to open an account. Also, first-time Chattanooga users in can enter the code HICHATTA (expires Nov. 8) at checkout to get $25 off an order of $35 or more, plus a free first-time delivery.
The company also says it will create more than 100 new jobs for Instacart shoppers. To apply to work as an Instacart shopper, all you have to do is download the app, O'Shaughnessy said.
Once hired, Instacart will send the shopper Instacart gear, such as a T-shirt and lanyard.
The Instacart app also helps train shoppers how to do their jobs. One thing that sets Instacart apart, O'Shaughnessy said, is that customers can note preferences, such as whether they prefer less-ripe green bananas or yellow, ripe ones.
Instacart shoppers set their own schedule, she said, and can work as little or as much as they want. Pay is commission-based on the size of an order. But Instacart has an hourly pay guarantee for its shoppers, depending on the market, of about $15 to $17, O'Shaughnessy said. Customers also tip, she said.
"I loved being a shopper. I love grocery shopping for myself," O'Shaughnessy said. "I dubbed myself a foodie, so I have an appreciation for food."
Online grocery shopping is growing. As of 2016, about 5 percent of U.S. consumers preferred shopping for groceries online, according to the website Statista, which says the $7 billion in online grocery sales in 2015 is expected to rise to $18 billion by 2020 — with millenials most likely to grocery shop online. Meanwhile, Amazon's recent purchase of Whole Foods has the grocery industry wondering if that will take the home delivery of groceries to a whole new level.
But some question whether grocery delivery will ever boom. TABS Analytics, a firm that studies the consumer packaged goods industry, caused a stir last year when its founder and CEO, Kurt Jetta, suggested online grocery shopping was under-performing.
"It's not like we want online grocery to fail," said an unsigned TABS Analytics blog entry from September of last year. "But as it stands, there are no facts to suggest that a massive boom from this channel can be expected any time soon, or ever, really."
Contact staff writer Tim Omarzu at firstname.lastname@example.org or www.facebook.com/MeetsForBusiness or on Twitter @meetforbusiness or 423-757-6651.