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How to Become an Instacart Shopper: A Step-By-Step Guide

  • Instacart offers flexible work as full-service or in-store grocery shoppers.
  • Full-service shoppers need a vehicle, while in-store shoppers work at grocery stores.
  • Instacart shoppers set their own schedules and can choose work hours.
  • The sign-up process includes an application, background check, and possible waitlist.

There was a time when driving for a rideshare service like Uber and Lyft was one of the only options gig workers had to choose from.

Nowadays, side hustlers like yourself have the pick of the litter when it comes to which gig service you want to work for.

The variety of opportunities you can choose from seem to increase every day.

There are rideshare companies, restaurant delivery services, pet and human care opportunities, and nearly everything in between.

You can even shop for groceries from your favorite local stores and deliver them to customers if you’d like.

In this article, we’re going to talk about becoming an Instacart shopper, the difference between a full-service and in-store shopper, and how you can sign up to start working.


Sign up to shop or drive with Instacart and break out of the food delivery business and into grocery delivery. It's a great way to switch things up

Perfect for: Gig workers who want the option of delivering groceries or working as an in-store shopper

Minimum age: 18 for full-service shoppers, 17 for in-store shoppers

What is an Instacart Shopper?

An Instacart Shopper is a gig worker who shops for orders placed by customers on the Instacart app.

There are two types of Shoppers: In-Store Shoppers and Full-Service Shoppers.

Each type of shopper has their own duties and level of responsibility, which we will break these down in detail later in this article.

Benefits of Working for Instacart

From a shopper’s standpoint, Instacart provides you with a flexible employment option that allows you to choose your own hours, be your own boss, and make money on the side whenever you please.

The nice part about being an Instacart worker is that you can set your own work hours that fit your schedule.

You can do so if you’re busy during the week and want to pick up a few extra hours on the weekend.

Likewise, if you’d rather work all week long and have your weekends off, you can also take that route.

It’s all up to you.

You also have the option of choosing the type of job you’d like to have—a full-service or in-store shopper.

The Difference Between In-Store and Full-Service Instacart Shoppers

As mentioned above, there are two types of Instacart shoppers. Each of these roles is similar, yet very different at the same time.

You can usually choose one or the other, so when signing up, make sure to understand which one you’re choosing.

Full-Service Shopper

The first employment option of Instacart is a full-service shopper.

A full-service shopper will shop for items in the grocery store and deliver them to Instacart customers. In some cases, you’ll only be required to deliver orders.

As a full-service shopper, you’ll be considered an independent contractor rather than a part-time employee. You can set your own schedule, work whenever is convenient for you, and work as many hours as you’d like.

If you have access to a vehicle, this is a great way to earn extra cash on the side.

Full-Service Shopper Requirements

In order to become an Instacart shopper, you must pass a few basic requirements and have access to a vehicle to deliver orders.

Here are the requirements to become a full-service shopper:

  • Must be 18 years or older
  • Eligible to work in the United States
  • Consistent access to a vehicle with insurance
  • Own an iPhone 5 or Android 5.0 or newer
  • Able to lift 30–40 pounds with or without accommodation

In-Store Shopper

If you don’t have access to a vehicle or would rather not drive around town delivering orders, being an in-store shopper is a great option.

In-store shoppers fill customer orders in the store and prepare them for pick-up. As an in-store shopper, you’re considered a part-time employee and can only work 29 hours per week.

However, this doesn’t mean that you’ll be guaranteed 29 hours every week. The number of hours you’ll work will depend on the demand of shoppers throughout the week.

In-store shoppers will be assigned a grocery store for each shift they work.

During their shift, they’ll fill customer orders that they receive through the app and prepare them to be picked up by a full-service shopper.

In-Store Shopper Requirements

There are fewer requirements to become an in-store shopper than a full-service shopper. The major difference is that in-store shoppers aren’t required to have access to a vehicle.

Beyond that, the requirements are nearly the same and are as follows:

  • Must be 18 years or older
  • Eligible to work in the United States
  • Own an iPhone 5 or Android 5.0 or newer
  • Able to lift 30–40 pounds with or without accommodation
  • Pass a routine employment background check

If you’re confident you’ll meet the requirements, you can move on to the next step – applying.

Sign Up for Instacart

If you think you’d like to give Instacart a shot, you can take the first steps toward signing up today.

Signing up requires filling out an online form and completing an onboarding process that is either online or in person.

an image showing how to sign up for Instacart and apply for the gig

To start, you can head to the application page and fill out your personal information. This step takes about five minutes.

Anticipate receiving additional information on how to proceed based on which type of shopper you aim to be.

Here is an overview of the sign-up process:

  • Enter in personal information (name, address, etc.)
  • Select Full-Service or In-Store Shopper
  • Fill out a brief questionnaire (this basically ensures you meet the requirements)
  • They will send you an application download link — download it and fill it out
  • Answer questions or work preference (like the hours you would like to work)

Don’t Forget the Referral Code:

During this step, you’ll enter an Instacart Shopper referral code to unlock a sign-up bonus if one is being offered in your city.

Make sure to enter one during the time of application. Trying to get one retroactively is a lot harder than just entering it correctly from the start.

After entering the initial information, you’ll then need to fill out a questionnaire confirming that you meet all of the requirements for becoming an Instacart employee.

This includes confirming whether or not you have access to a vehicle.

After that, you’ll be directed to download the Instacart shopper app and complete the application process.

Once the application is complete you’ll need to pass a background check and then wait to be approved as an employee before completing the onboarding process.

Be Aware of the Waitlist

Be aware that you may be waitlisted if many people apply to shop with Instacart in your area at the same time as you.

This is a clever method that Instacart has adopted as a way to manage demand for the positions if there are too many drivers in a specific area.

After applying, you will see a notification within the Shopper app, as well as receive it via email. It’ll look something like this:

screenshot showing a notification that a shopper has gotten waitlisted by Instacart

The wait time varies from days to months, and there is no way to check status. Applicants must wait for a position to open to get off the waitlist.

The waitlist aims to prevent market saturation but can frustrate new drivers. Just remember, however, that there is a lot of churn for Shopper positions, so a little patience goes a long way.

Whenever you do get approved, you’ll get a notification (again, sent via email and within the Shopper app) that lets you know that you’ve been taken off the waitlist and are then able to complete your application.

screenshot showing a notification that a shopper has gotten off the Instacart waitlist

There’s really no good way to get off the waitlist other than wait.

However, I have heard rumors that changing the application zip code to a less busy area may help. I haven’t tried this myself to verify, but it is worth a shot.

I also suggest checking out other popular delivery apps. There are 9 of them that I recommend, many of which will allow you to earn close to what you’ll earn with Instacart.

What to Expect After Getting Approved for Instacart

Once an application is accepted, potential Instacart shoppers are asked to schedule a one-on-one.

Bear in mind, with how popular Instacart is, it can be rather challenging to accomplish this since available slots are booked pretty fast.

After a spot has been reserved for you personally, the orientation typically takes around 2 hours.

During this time, shoppers will learn the ropes of what to do during the shopping portion of the job.

For example, shoppers will learn what to do if an item is out of stock or how to select fruits and vegetables.

They will also be informed of how to pay for the order, namely via a prepaid card. All shoppers receive this financial item at orientation, so be sure to get yours.

Have questions, comments or concerns? Let me know by dropping a comment in the comments section below.

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