published on September 12, 2017 - 9:47 AM
Written by David Castellon is launching its online grocery delivery service in Fresno starting today.

The San Francisco-based company began offering home delivery of groceries about five years ago, starting in the Bay Area, and then expanding to other parts of the country, including Northern and Southern California.

“And this is part of our expansion to cover all of California,” by moving the service into the Central part of the state, starting with most of Fresno County, said Justin Reevers, operations manager for Instacart.

In all, the service will be offered in 21 zip codes here, including those that cover Fresno, Clovis, Herndon, Muscatel, Easton and Malaga.

But the service will not be available for all grocery stores, just Smart & Final, Costco and CVS. Customers will also be able to purchase pet supplies from local Petco stores, Reevers said.

Home delivery of groceries is nothing new, nor is ordering groceries from your living room.

Vons stores in the Valley have delivered to homes for years, while Walmart began last month offering online ordering at some of its Valley stores — though it offers only curbside pickup, not home delivery.

And with Amazon’s purchase of Whole Foods grocery stores, the company will offer some groceries via mail.

Instacart promotes itself as something different, following a model similar in some ways to Uber and Lyft, in that customers will be able to go online to make their orders, and “personal shoppers” using their own cars will be sent to the stores and do the shopping.

As part of the service, customers can watch online as each item is taken off a shelf and scanned by their shopper’s cell phone, and shoppers can communicate with the customers if items aren’t in stock to find out if they can buy alternate items or to discuss concerns about the quality of produce, such as if the avocados ordered don’t look good, Reevers explained.

The personal shoppers collect the groceries, which can include non-food items like household products, makeup and even pots and pans, he said, adding that customers can ask the personal shoppers if they‘re willing to pick up items at the stores not among the products listed in Instacart’s app or website.

“You pay up front,” said Reevers, adding the fees can be adjusted after checkout if alternate items are purchased.

The items purchased are then delivered to the customer’s door.

As for the cost of the service, customers normally pay $5.99 per delivery, though first-time users will get free delivery for orders totaling $35 or more.

Through Nov. 1, local customers typing in the promo code HELLOFRESNO will get $20 off their orders totaling $35 or more, Reevers said.

He said the company has about 100 people lined up in the Fresno County area to be personal shoppers, and people can apply through the app or website,

As for what the personal shoppers are paid, that’s based on the amount of items they collect and buy for clients and how far they drive to the stores and the customers’ homes.

“A lot of our shoppers start making money at $15 an hour,” said Reevers, who wouldn’t disclose specifically how the payments to the personal shoppers are calculated.

And while what the shoppers make can exceed the $5.99 customers pay, he noted that those charges are just one revenue stream for his company, as Instacart also gets fees from the stores and fees for customers using online coupons posted on the website.

Reevers said Instacart plans to expand into other parts of the Valley, but offered no specifics on how and when that would happen.

Here is the list of Fresno County zip codes where Instacart will be offered: 93722, 93737, 93720, 93711, 93704, 93727, 93710, 93726, 93611, 93619, 93612, 93705, 93703, 93706, 93728, 93730, 93702, 93725, 93701, 93721, 93650.

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