Since it began operating in Canada in 2017, the US-based food delivery company, Instacart, has massively expanded its Canadian footprint.
Now, Canadians living in most major cities can use Instacart to skip the trip to the store and get all of their groceries delivered directly to their front door (in exchange for a small fee, of course).
For those looking to earn some extra money, Instacart has also become a key player in Canada’s ever-growing gig economy.
As an Instacart “shopper,” you can earn base pay plus tips for delivering customers’ groceries, choosing your own flexible hours and schedule.
Curious to learn more about how Instacart works?
Keep on reading to see my full Instacart Canada review and whether or not it’s worth your time.
Online Grocery Store
Instacart is a grocery pick-up and delivery service that connects customers with independent delivery drivers who are willing to shop and deliver groceries and other essentials to their homes or office.
- Instacart allows Canadians 18 and older to apply as shoppers and start earning money
- Instacart is partnered with stores in most major Canadian cities
- Instacart shoppers typically earn between $15 and $18 per hour, including tips
- Instacart will deliver your groceries and essentials to your front door, saving you time
- Instacart offers a membership that reduces delivery fees for customers
- Shoppers get to keep 100% of their tips
- No skills or credentials necessary to start working
- Instacart isn’t available in all cities and towns (especially the more remote locations)
- You won’t have as much control over the quality of your meat or produce
- Instacart may not offer delivery with your favourite grocery store
- Instacart doesn’t always account for in-store sales and discounts
- Slow days may leave you making less than average, especially after accounting for fuel costs
In 2012 a former employee of Amazon named Apoorva Mehta had the idea to create an easy-to-use app that would allow people to get groceries delivered to their front door. This idea eventually grew into Instacart, which is currently valued at $13 billion.
After achieving mainstream success in the United States, Mehta and his team decided to expand Instacart’s operations into Canada in 2017. The platform saw a massive boost in popularity after the 2020 pandemic, as many Canadians preferred to stay inside and avoid exposure in crowded supermarkets.
Although there’s a lot of complex coding that powers the Instacart platform, the program itself is simple and straightforward. Here’s how it works:
- Customers can download the Instacart app, create an account, and shop for groceries at stores that are partnered with Instacart
- Instacart customers can set their own delivery time frames to ensure that they’re home to receive their order
- Once the customer completes their grocery order, it’s assigned to an Instacart shopper (delivery driver) who will fulfill the order and drop it off once complete
- As the shopper completes the order, the customer will be notified of the order’s progress
- Once the grocery order is successfully delivered, your card will be charged for the groceries, the Instacart delivery fee, and any tip that the customer chooses to give their shopper
Instacart is currently partnered with over 40 major brands in Canada, encompassing over 2,400 individual store locations throughout the country, including Walmart.
As a customer, the main appeal of Instacart is that it can save you a lot of time that you’d otherwise spend shopping for groceries yourself.
Speaking from personal experience, the last thing that I want to do after a busy day of work and meetings is to spend an hour of my valuable free time pacing down aisles and waiting in a crowded grocery line.
While Instacart does incur a delivery fee (in addition to the average tip I give my delivery driver), the amount of time it saves me is well worth it.
At the end of the day, time is money, and using Instacart allows me to save a considerable amount of time. The extra fees and tip I pay for the service are well worth the trade-off.
Granted, I don’t use Instacart all the time. If I just need a small handful of groceries, I’ll just take the extra ten minutes and grab them myself on my way home. However, if it’s a big haul, the grocery delivery service is really convenient.
Instacart is a great app for the average consumer who wants to save time and cut down on grocery shopping trips. However, it’s also a really good side hustle for anybody who wants to earn some extra cash on the side.
If you’re in a major city like Toronto or Vancouver, you may even be able to turn Instacart into a full-time income source!
As an Instacart shopper, you can clock in for a shift whenever you want. Once your time starts, you’ll be paired with grocery orders that best fit your location and schedule. Each grocery order will come with an expected delivery time and a list of items.
As long as you do your best to deliver the order by the requested delivery time, you can usually expect a fair tip. You’ll also be paid a portion of Instacart’s base delivery fee. All in all, you should be able to earn at least $15 per hour.
If any issues or delays occur during your order, you can contact the customer directly through the app. Communication is often the key to getting a better tip, as customers like to be updated and kept in the loop.
As an Instacart customer, your order will be subject to a base delivery fee, which is set by Instacart. The delivery fee typically starts at $3.99, but may cost more depending on:
- The size of your order
- The time of day
- The current traffic conditions and expected delivery times
- How quickly you want your order (same-day, 1-hour, 2-hour, etc.)
- How many Instacart delivery drivers are available
- Your location relative to the store you’re buying from
Similar to other driving apps like Uber, Lyft, or DoorDash, Instacart also features surge pricing, which may increase your delivery fee during the busiest hours of the day or during holidays.
These surge prices can fluctuate suddenly, so it’s often hard to predict them. Most often, though, you can expect extra surge fees during rush hour, as people are arriving home from work and the app has more delivery requests.
Because an Instacart order typically entails a bit longer of a shopping time compared to meal delivery (which is already prepared upon the driver’s arrival). Because of this, don’t expect the same rapid 30-minute service you would with DoorDash or UberEats.
However, most customers can expect their Instacart order to be delivered within an hour or two. Customers can also set specific delivery windows, which I recommend to ensure that you’re home to receive your order and that food doesn’t go bad sitting out on your doorstep.
Instacart is available in most major cities in Canada. If you’re in a more rural or remote area, you likely won’t have much luck, though.
If you have a vehicle to drive and some free time, then Instacart can be a profitable side hustle. According to income reports from Indeed Canada, the average full-time Instacart shopper earns $738 per week, which equates to earning $18.45 per hour for 40 hours worth of work.
Keep in mind that this is also pre-tax income.
Instacart shoppers are technically classified as independent contractors, and must pay a percentage of their earnings in taxes.
That being said, your hourly pay can differ significantly depending on the timeframe you’re working. A part-time Instacart shopper who only works during the busiest hours will typically earn a higher hourly wage, compared to a full-time shopper who works six to eight hours per day.
For this reason, I wouldn’t recommend Instacart as a full-time job. Instead, I would recommend pursuing a better-paying full-time position and using Instacart as a part-time side hustle on your days off or during hours of the day that you’re not working.
To guarantee the safety and trust of customers, Instacart requires all prospective Instacart shoppers to submit to a criminal background check. Thankfully, applicants don’t have to pay for this out-of-pocket. The background check can take anywhere from a few days to a week to complete.
One of the perks of working for Instacart as a side hustle is that there are very few requirements. The base requirements to be considered for an Instacart shopper position are:
- You must be at least 18 years old
- You must be eligible to work in Canada
- You must have a smartphone that supports the Instacart Shopper app
- You must have access to a vehicle (it doesn’t have to be registered in your name, though)
- You must be able to life at least 25 kg without help
- You must pass a criminal background check
As long as you meet the basic requirements that I outlined above, applying for Instacart is fast and easy. First, download the Instacart Shopper app (available for iOS and Android).
After creating your account, you’ll be prompted to upload documents verifying your age and identity. Then, you’ll need to approve Instacart to run a background check on you. You may also be asked to perform a camera scan of your face to verify that you are who you say you are.
As an Instacart shopper, you’ll be able to keep 100% of your tips. In my opinion, this is one of the main perks of the app. You’ll also be given a portion of the delivery fee that Instacart charges customers.
To be considered for a full-service Instacart position, you’ll need to have a vehicle (or at least access to a vehicle). This vehicle needs to be registered and insured, although it doesn’t necessarily need to be registered under your name.
That being said, Instacart also offers shopping-only positions to applicants who don’t have a vehicle. These shoppers aren’t responsible for handling deliveries.
Instead, they remain inside major supermarkets and assist the delivery drivers by fulfilling shopping orders so that they’re ready when the delivery driver arrives at the store.
If you’re looking for an easy way to earn $18 to $19 per hour and you have a working vehicle (preferably one that’s fuel-efficient), then Instacart is a great side hustle.
There aren’t any minimum hour requirements, so you can really set your own schedule and work when you want, which makes it a flexible way to earn extra income.
Personally, though, I think that building a skill that you can apply as a freelancer is a more profitable long-term solution. Keep on reading to see my guide to getting started as a freelancer in Canada!