Instacart’s new 30-minute deliveries are sure to give workers a headache


In the busy food and grocery delivery space, Instacart hopes a few minutes of shaving makes all the difference. To that end, it creates a new ‘priority delivery’ option that debuts today in select markets and promises orders will be fulfilled in ‘just 30 minutes’.

While deliveries within 45 and 60 minutes are already available to many Instacart customers, according to the company, “ priority delivery ” is debuting in more than 15 cities (although it lists only six: Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, San Diego, San Francisco and Seattle ). It’s meant for quick grocery shopping, rather than the bulk, grocery-for-the-week feature where Instacart tends to thrive. With that in mind, even in participating stores, the 30-minute option will no longer be available for orders that are too large or complicated, the company said. The edge.

As with many delivery jobs, small orders, such as those for which “priority” is intended, are usually the least lucrative and often stay in line longer with unclaimed work. For many drivers, picking up these small potato orders is not worth the gas they would spend getting to the store. Of course, faster service also costs more – although pricing for “priority” is not yet known. Instacart declined to provide details of how much the overcharge is expected to be, or how much of it will make its way into delivery drivers’ salaries. Instacart also did not say whether it expanded its workforce or made workflow changes to meet specific “priority delivery” needs.

It’s reasonable to be on the lookout for how this new position, with its even tougher time requirements, could impact an already tense and vulnerable workforce. After all, this is the same company that was found to be subsidizing workers’ wages with their own tip money; it is also the company that to some extent still allows customers to participate in the revolting practice of tip baiting, where delivery drivers are enticed to pack an order with a generous tip, after which it is withdrawn after the order has been completed. This is not to say anything about Instacart’s feelings about gaining employee status or the right to collective bargaining.

Completing a delivery in half an hour may not seem like a huge burden, especially for Instacart customers who already work on subways with a lead time of 45 minutes. But in the uncertainty of DIY job, customer reviews can mean the difference between having a job or having a job is deactivated.