8 Steps to Becoming an Instacart Shopper

8 Steps to Becoming an Instacart Shopper

What is InstacartInstacart is a same-day delivery app that brings essentials and fresh groceries to users. The app allows users to order groceries from local retailers and have their orders delivered by Instacart shoppers who handpick the items and deliver the orders directly to users.

What does an Instacart shopper do? There are two different shopper roles with Instacart: full-service shopper and in-store shopper. Full-service shoppers both shop and deliver while in-store shoppers shop and stage batches in each store. Both opportunities offer a lot of flexibility and allow you to choose how many orders (batches in Instacart lingo) you can fulfill. 

How to work for Instacart? Let’s go over the general requirements first:      

Full-service shopper requirements:

  • Must be 18 or older
  • Have a reliable, insured vehicle
  • Provide a valid driver’s license
  • Provide social security for background check
  • Be able to lift 30+ pounds

In-store shopper requirements:

  • No car required
  • Must be 18 or older (some stores locations are 21+)
  • Provide a valid driver’s license
  • Provide social security for background check
  • Be able to lift 30+ pounds

Step 1: Sign Up 

Once you download the Instacart app on your smartphone, you will be asked to sign in one of the three ways: Facebook, Google, Email. 

After you choose an option and log in, you will be prompted to enter your zip code to ensure Instacart is available in your area. If Instacart isn’t available in your area, they will put you on a mailing list and email you when it does become available.

Step 2: Select Shopper Role

Next, you’ll be prompted to select whether you would like to “Shop & Drive” or “Shop Only.” Tap the gig option you prefer. 

Having a hard time deciding which role to choose? Here are some of the pros and cons of each option:

Shop & Drive (full-service shopper):


  • Pick which batches you want to accept
  • No limit on how many hours you can work (1099 independent contractor)
  • You keep 100% of your tips


  • Requires you to drive and make deliveries
  • No benefits
Shop Only (in-store shopper):


  • Doesn’t require a car
  • You will be classified as a W2 employee
  • Receive minimum wage and benefits (401k, PTO, Maternity/Paternity leave, etc.)


  • Instacart will schedule your shifts and assign batches to you based on your availability (must be available to work at least 12 hours between Saturday, Sunday and Monday)
  • You can only work a maximum of 29 hours and a minimum of 15-20 hours per week
  • No opportunities to earn tips

Want to be a full-service shopper, but don’t have a car? Get hooked up with a vehicle for rideshare, delivery, or anything else with HyreCar. If you rent for 3+ days, Jackalope will set you up with $75 off.

Step 3: Choose Stores

Next you'll have the opportunity to choose which stores you would like to accept batches from. You can choose up to 4 stores in your area.

Step 4a: Remote Interview

If you choose to apply for the in-store shopper role, you will need to schedule a remote interview. You will be prompted to choose your earliest availability from the options listed. Instacart will contact you with further instructions. The interview is said to be fairly straightforward.

Step 4b: Complete Questionnaire 

The Instacart questionnaire assesses your grocery store and customer service experience, but full-service and in-store shoppers must complete this. Instacart will give you scenarios, such as what would you do if an item is out of stock, and give you multiple choice answers to choose from.

Step 5: Verify your License

After you’ve completed the questionnaire, you’ll need to submit a picture of the front and back of your driver’s license.

Step 6: Background Check

In order to become a Shopper, you will need to consent to a free background check which takes 3-10 days to process. This requires that you submit your social security number. Anyone with a disqualifying offense in the last 7 years or for any other safety-related reason will not be approved. This includes DUIs, sexual offenses, felonies, violent crimes, theft, and property damage. If you want to dispute the accuracy of your background check, you can contact Checkr, the third-party provider running the background checks.

Step 7: Approval & Prepaid Card

Once you’ve completed the prompts and your background check is approved (usually less than a week), Instacart will mail you a prepaid debit card. This is the card you will use when checking out with your customers’ orders. Whenever you receive an order, the amount for each batch you accept will be loaded onto your card. With this card, you’ll be ready to start your first delivery!

How will you know if you’ve been approved? You can always check your application status on the Shopper app. If it says “Awaiting Approval,” it means that Instacart is still reviewing your application. 

Step 8: Get Paid!

Instacart will release your payments every Wednesday morning via direct deposit. How much you earn will depend on whether you’re an in-store shopper or full-service shopper:

Full-service shopper: You are getting paid per batch you complete. Since you are an independent contractor, your total earnings will depend on how much work you accept and your tips (you keep 100% of your tips). 

In-store shopper: Since you are an Instacart employee rather than an independent contractor, you will be earning a set hourly minimum wage as a W2 employee.

Final tips for succeeding as an Instacart Shopper:

As a new Shopper, focus on familiarizing yourself with the stores in your area. Start by taking single batches with a low number of items, so you’re not overwhelmed. Once you get comfortable and start memorizing where everything is in the store, you’ll be able to take on more batches. 

A helpful way to shop efficiently is by shopping in this order: non-perishables first, then produce, dairy, meat, frozen items, and lastly, ice cream.

A quick way to see if the batch contains bulk buys is to look at the number of items vs. units. If you see 10 items and 120 units, there’s a good chance that you’re picking up a heavy order.

Remember—you are your own boss now. Take breaks, don’t sweat the small stuff, and have fun! Use Jackalope to track your mileage, expenses, and earnings, so you are organized and ready to save come tax season. 

Don’t waste your time waiting around for another batch. You can optimize your earnings by applying to multiple gig apps and ensuring that you are working the right jobs at the right times for maximum hourly income. Discover optimal times to and earn more when you create your schedule using our Scheduling tool.