Coronavirus Means Instacart Needs More Shoppers — 300,000 More

An Instacart female employee unloads groceries from her car
Photo courtesy of Instacart

Sweeping stay-at-home orders to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus have consumers flooding grocery delivery apps to thumb through digital catalogs of supermarket goods – stocking their kitchens without ever leaving home. 

To meet surging demand, the app companies are in hiring mode. Instacart CEO Apoorva Mehta announced the company is hiring 300,000 new workers to brave grocery stores across the nation on behalf of its customers.

“As more people look for immediate, flexible earnings opportunities during this time, we hope that Instacart can be an additional source of income,” Mehta said.

Shipt, another grocery delivery service, also said it’s hiring thousands of shoppers.

Instacart says it’s looking to bring on full-service shoppers, who will shop for the items in-store and then deliver them. Instacart does not provide a guaranteed hourly rate. Pay fluctuates per order and is largely reliant on tips, which workers keep 100%. Shoppers are independent contractors, aka gig workers.

This article is part of a series of stories on COVID-19. Here’s all our coverage of the coronavirus outbreak, which we will be updating every day.

The grocery-delivery app operates in approximately 5,500 North American cities, and the full-service gigs are available in all 50 states.

Instacart is one of several major companies currently hiring en masse. We tallied more than 747,000 service-industry job openings amid the coronavirus outbreak.

To qualify, applicants must be at least 18 years old and have:

  • Eligibility to work in the United States
  • Consistent access to an insured vehicle
  • A reliable smartphone (iPhone 5 or Android 4.4, or newer)
  • The ability to lift 50 pounds

Applications can be accessed on Instacart’s website and on iOS and Android versions of the app.

The coronavirus outbreak prompted Instacart to announce temporary measures to protect its workforce. The company will provide 14 days of paid sick leave if an employee or independent contractor is diagnosed with COVID-19 by a medical professional and/or is instructed to self-isolate. The worker must have been employed for at least 30 days.

Instacart also said it will be supplying cleaning products to shoppers and recommends they adhere to certain health and safety guidelines. Customers have the option to request contactless deliveries through a new “Leave It At My Door” feature.

Delivery workers so far don’t have access to that feature.

Adam Hardy is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. He covers the gig economy, entrepreneurship and unique ways to make money. Read his ​latest articles here, or say hi on Twitter @hardyjournalism.