Step one: download the Instacart app for your smart phone. Step two: order. Step three: put your sock-covered feet up on the coffee table and await delivery of your Publix groceries on your doorstep.
“I’m very, very happy with it,” said Marathon resident Tedda Morris. “I hate going to the store this time of year. Plus, this way I don’t risk picking up any germs.”
For Morris, this will mean that ALL her groceries will be delivered. She orders her non-perishables from Amazon, and now the perishables are delivered to her doorstep, too.
All Publix grocery stores and CVS drug stores in the Keys offer this service as of about two weeks ago.
“Publix delivery powered by Instacart is an extension of the premier customer service our customers have come to expect and love, from our store into their homes,” said Nicole Krauss, Publix spokeswoman for Southeast Florida. Krauss said delivery is a permanent part of Publix Super Markets’ customer service plan.
Delivery is reportedly available in every area of the Keys, according to Publix. But an Instacart spokesperson provided service areas that reveal a gap between Marathon and Big Coppitt Key. Delivery drivers work for Instacart, not Publix. Instacart, like Uber, is part of the “gig” economy emerging in the U.S., in which employees set their own hours. The personal shoppers are paid per trip, and through tips. When placing an order on the app, users can select a window of time — say 6 to 7 p.m. — when the groceries will be delivered. Delivery drivers don’t wear specific uniforms, but do display a “shopper lanyard.”
It’s not free — there is a $3.99 service charge per order, a minimum order requirement of $35, and tip. Online reviewers caution there is a difference between the “service” fee and a tip — the amount applied to “service” goes to the company, not the shopper.
Instacart’s mobile app for Publix is organized just like the store. In other words, the fresh salsa can be found in the produce department alongside the bananas and bell peppers. It also has tabs for coupon deals and sales. The app also “remembers” frequently ordered items to speed the process.
The smartphone app will also tell users when the shopper is in the store, and again when thegroceries are expected to arrive at the delivery point. It even has a “live chat” function where the shopper can ask questions.
“I was worried about produce because I’m picky, but everything (the shopper picked out) looked good,” said Marathon’s Beth Kunitz. “You can even chat with them if you need to add something or substitute something that may be out of stock. I probably won’t use it all the time, but it’s nice to have the option.”
According to glassdoor.com, Instacart drivers earn on average about $10 an hour. It’s not known whether the Instacart shoppers are local, or whether, like Uber drivers, they come down for the day from the mainland.
According to one Publix employee in the Middle Keys, the service is picking up speed. In the first few days, there were about two dozen orders placed. Since then, the numbers have gone up every day.
It’s likely to be a win-win situation: the convenience of delivery for those who want it, and less crowded stores for shoppers making their own purchases.
For orders of $35 or more, the Instacart delivery fee is just $3.99. Customers can also sign up for an Instacart Express membership, which enables unlimited, free same-day delivery on orders of $35 or more. After a free trial period, Instacart Express membership is just $9.99 a month or $99 a year. First time users can also enter the code HIFLORIDAKEYS (2/1/2019 expiration) at checkout to get $20 off an order of $35 or more, plus a free first time delivery.