Instacart Business Model: A Comprehensive Review

Welcome to our comprehensive review of Instacart’s business model. Instacart is a leading grocery delivery service in the U.S., known for its innovative approach to online shopping and on-demand delivery. As a technology-driven company, Instacart has successfully tapped into the gig economy business model and established strategic partnerships to drive its growth. In this article, we will delve into the various aspects of Instacart’s business model, including its revenue streams, customer acquisition strategies, and market strategy.

Key Takeaways:

  • Instacart is a technology-driven company that offers a grocery delivery service through its online shopping platform.
  • The company operates on an on-demand delivery model, providing customers with quick and convenient access to groceries.
  • Instacart’s business model is built on a partnership model, collaborating with over 40,000 stores in more than 5,500 cities.
  • The company generates revenue through various streams, including commissions, delivery and service fees, membership fees, and advertising.
  • Instacart has a strong market strategy and focuses on customer acquisition to maintain its dominance in the grocery delivery industry.

The History and Growth of Instacart

Instacart, a leading grocery delivery service in the U.S., was founded in 2012 by Apoorva Mehta, a former Amazon employee. Recognizing the need for a convenient grocery shopping app, Mehta embarked on a mission to transform the way people shop for groceries.

To realize this vision, Instacart secured initial funding through renowned startup accelerator Y Combinator. This financial support allowed the company to establish its foundation and start expanding its operations.

Driven by its ambition to provide seamless grocery delivery services, Instacart rapidly expanded its presence, serving numerous cities across the United States. The company’s success did not stop at national borders, as it soon ventured into the Canadian market, further solidifying its position as a dominant player in the grocery delivery industry.

Throughout its journey, Instacart forged strategic partnerships with major retailers such as Costco and Sam’s Club. These collaborations enabled the company to offer a wide range of products to its customers, while simultaneously strengthening its market presence.

However, the true turning point for Instacart came with the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic. As the world grappled with the challenges of restricted movement and social distancing, Instacart’s on-demand grocery delivery became an essential service. To meet the surge in demand, Instacart rapidly expanded its workforce by hiring an additional 300,000 employees, enabling the company to serve customers better during these unprecedented times.

Today, Instacart operates in over 5,500 cities and boasts a network of 300 partner retailers. Its remarkable journey from a startup incubated by Y Combinator to a household name in the grocery delivery industry underscores its unwavering commitment to innovation and customer satisfaction.

Instacart’s Growth Milestones

Year Milestone
2012 Instacart founded by Apoorva Mehta
2012 Secured funding through Y Combinator
2014 Expanded operations to multiple cities in the U.S.
2017 Entered the Canadian market
2019 Formed partnerships with major retailers
2020 Rapid expansion and hiring of 300,000 additional employees due to COVID-19

Instacart’s Business Model Canvas

Instacart’s business model can be analyzed using the Business Model Canvas. Let’s examine each component of the canvas to understand how Instacart operates.

Customer Segments

Instacart caters to three main customer segments:

  1. Users who want convenient grocery shopping.
  2. Shoppers who want flexible income opportunities.
  3. Stores that want to increase sales.

Value Propositions

Instacart provides the following value propositions:

  • A convenient shopping experience.
  • Quick delivery.
  • Additional income for shoppers.


To reach its customers, Instacart utilizes various channels:

  • Website
  • App
  • Shoppers
  • Press
  • Internet marketing

Customer Relationships

Instacart maintains customer relationships through:

  • Customer service
  • Social media
  • Local stores
  • Community engagement

Revenue Streams

Instacart generates revenue through the following streams:

  1. Commissions
  2. Markup overprices
  3. Delivery fees
  4. Service fees
  5. Membership fees
  6. Advertising

Key Resources

Instacart’s key resources include:

  • Partnerships with stores
  • Shoppers
  • Platforms
  • Human resources

Key Activities

Instacart’s key activities involve:

  • Software development
  • Platform maintenance
  • Payment processing
  • Delivery
  • Customer service
  • Training
  • Shoppers management
  • Local market management

Key Partners

Instacart collaborates with the following key partners:

  • Shoppers
  • Local grocery stores
  • IT platform providers

Cost Structure

Instacart’s cost structure includes:

  • Technological maintenance
  • Salaries
  • Commissions
  • Shoppers payment
  • Payment processing fees
  • Administration and operations
  • Marketing

Competitors in the Grocery Delivery Market

As a prominent player in the grocery delivery market, Instacart faces competition from several other companies offering similar services. These competitors include:


Shipt, owned by Target, is a grocery delivery service operating in 300 cities. It has established partnerships with major grocery stores like Costco, CVS, and Kroger. Shipt provides a convenient and reliable solution for customers seeking grocery delivery.

Amazon Fresh

Amazon Fresh, offered by the e-commerce giant Amazon, is an exclusive grocery delivery service available in 15 cities. It is accessible only to Amazon Prime members, providing them with convenience and a wide selection of fresh produce and pantry essentials.


Walmart+ is a grocery delivery service provided by Walmart. It offers perks and discounts to its members, enhancing the shopping experience for Walmart customers. With its extensive network of stores and competitive pricing, Walmart+ poses a significant threat to Instacart’s market share.

Fresh Direct

Founded in 1999, Fresh Direct focuses on delivering goods directly from farmers and artisans. The company offers a wide range of fresh produce, gourmet foods, and household essentials. Its emphasis on quality and sourcing directly from suppliers distinguishes it from other competitors.

Blue Apron

Blue Apron is a grocery delivery company that specializes in providing ingredients and recipes for home-cooked meals. It offers convenience and meal planning options for customers seeking inspiration and convenience in their cooking routines.

These competitors challenge Instacart’s market position and drive the company to innovate and provide exceptional services to retain its customer base. Instacart continues to explore new strategies and partnerships to stay ahead of the competition in the dynamic grocery delivery market.

Company Key Features Availability
Shipt Partnerships with major grocery stores 300 cities
Amazon Fresh Exclusively for Amazon Prime members 15 cities
Walmart+ Perks and discounts for members Nationwide
Fresh Direct Direct delivery from farmers and artisans Nationwide
Blue Apron Ingredients and recipes for home-cooked meals Nationwide

Strengths and Weaknesses of Instacart

Instacart has several strengths that contribute to its success. These include:

  • Reliable partnerships with established stores
  • Quick delivery times
  • Strong customer service
  • A favorable financial position
  • A diverse brand portfolio

However, the company also faces weaknesses, such as:

It is important for Instacart to leverage its strengths while addressing its weaknesses to maintain its competitive edge in the grocery delivery market.


Strengths Details
Reliable partnerships with established stores Instacart has forged strong partnerships with well-known grocery stores, allowing it to offer a wide range of products to its customers.
Quick delivery times Instacart’s efficient logistics and extensive network of shoppers enable fast and reliable delivery, meeting the demands of time-sensitive customers.
Strong customer service Instacart prioritizes customer satisfaction by providing responsive and helpful customer service, ensuring a positive shopping experience.
A favorable financial position With a valuation of over $17 billion and significant funding, Instacart has the resources to invest in technology, expansion, and innovative solutions.
A diverse brand portfolio Instacart offers a wide selection of brands, catering to diverse customer preferences and ensuring a comprehensive shopping experience.


Weaknesses Details
A project management approach that prioritizes internal delivery over external stakeholder interests Instacart’s focus on meeting internal delivery targets may sometimes come at the expense of considering external stakeholder needs and expectations.
Pricing strategies that may not always be perceived as justified Instacart’s pricing decisions, such as markups and service fees, might face scrutiny from customers who perceive them as unreasonable or unfair.

Opportunities and Threats for Instacart

Instacart, as a leading player in the grocery delivery industry, has both opportunities for growth and potential threats to its business. By capitalizing on these opportunities and addressing the threats, Instacart can strengthen its market position and continue to provide value to its customers.


  • International Expansion: Instacart has the opportunity to expand its operations into new international markets. By entering markets with high demand for grocery delivery services, the company can tap into new customer segments and drive further growth.
  • Advancements in Artificial Intelligence: Instacart can leverage advancements in artificial intelligence to enhance its consumer demand prediction capabilities. By accurately forecasting customer needs, Instacart can optimize its supply chain and improve the efficiency of its operations.
  • Potential for New Trends and Habits: Instacart has the potential to benefit from new trends and habits that promote app usage. As consumers increasingly adopt online shopping and home delivery services, Instacart can position itself as the go-to platform for grocery needs.


  • Increasing Competition: Instacart faces intense competition from other players in the grocery delivery market. As more companies enter the space, Instacart needs to differentiate itself and continuously innovate to retain its customer base.
  • Sticky Prices in the Industry: The grocery delivery industry is characterized by sticky prices, where customers are price-sensitive and tend to stick with their preferred service providers. Instacart needs to carefully manage its pricing strategies to remain competitive without compromising profitability.
  • Economic Conditions: Instacart’s business is influenced by economic conditions that may affect consumer spending patterns. During economic downturns or recessions, consumers may reduce their discretionary spending, impacting Instacart’s revenue. Instacart needs to be agile in adapting to changing economic conditions and identifying ways to mitigate the impact.

By capitalizing on these opportunities and effectively addressing the threats, Instacart can continue to thrive in the dynamic and competitive grocery delivery market.

Instacart’s Financial Performance

Instacart, a leading grocery delivery service, has demonstrated impressive financial performance in recent years. The company boasts a valuation of over $17 billion, showcasing its robust market position and investor confidence. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Instacart experienced unprecedented growth, raising significant funding that led to a valuation of $39 billion.

Recent data indicates that Instacart has not only achieved profitability but has also witnessed substantial growth in income from operations. This success can be attributed to the company’s strategic initiatives, strong partnerships with retailers, and its ability to adapt to the evolving demands of consumers in the digital age.

Instacart financial performance

The financial performance of Instacart underscores its status as a formidable player in the grocery delivery industry. As the company continues to innovate and expand its services, it is well-positioned to sustain its growth trajectory and remain a dominant force in the market.

Instacart’s Customer Cohort Analysis

As part of its strategic analysis, Instacart conducts regular customer cohort analysis to gain valuable insights into customer behavior and trends. By organizing customers into groups based on their shared characteristics and actions, Instacart is able to better understand their purchasing patterns and tailor its services accordingly.

One significant finding from the customer cohort analysis is the large percentage of Gross Transaction Value (GTV) generated by the 2020 cohort, which emerged during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. This cohort continues to be a major driving force for Instacart’s business, showcasing the impact of changing consumer habits during the crisis.

While new customers may initially contribute less to the GTV, the cohort analysis reveals that over time, they can become more engaged and valuable customers. As they familiarize themselves with the platform and experience the convenience and benefits of Instacart’s services, their spending tends to increase. This highlights the importance of nurturing and retaining customers to maximize long-term revenue.

Instacart’s customer cohort analysis also provides insights into the demographics of its customer base. The analysis reveals a larger percentage of above-average income earners and urban consumers among Instacart’s user base. This information is crucial for understanding the target audience and tailoring marketing efforts to effectively reach and engage these specific customer segments.

By leveraging the findings of its customer cohort analysis, Instacart is able to make data-driven decisions that enhance customer satisfaction, drive revenue growth, and solidify its position as a leading grocery delivery service.

Cohort GTV Contribution
2020 55%
2019 30%
2018 15%

Instacart’s Impact on the Grocery Delivery Market

Instacart has had a significant impact on the grocery delivery market, disrupting traditional shopping methods and revolutionizing the industry. As a technology-driven company, Instacart leverages its online shopping platform and on-demand delivery model to provide users with a convenient and seamless grocery shopping experience.

Instacart’s success in the grocery delivery market has not gone unnoticed by competitors and potential entrants. Prompted by Instacart’s achievements, retailers and tech giants have followed suit, launching their own grocery delivery services to stay competitive. This increased competition has fueled innovation and further propelled the growth of the grocery delivery market.

What sets Instacart apart and solidifies its position as a leader in the grocery delivery space is its strategic focus on technology, partnerships, and customer experience. By continuously investing in technological advancements, Instacart ensures a user-friendly interface and efficient order processing and delivery. The company has also formed strategic partnerships with thousands of stores, allowing it to offer a wide range of products and access to various geographic regions.

Additionally, Instacart prioritizes customer experience, providing reliable and timely delivery, responsive customer service, and flexibility in shopping options. These factors, combined with Instacart’s user-friendly app and website, have garnered a loyal user base and contributed to its market dominance.

Instacart’s Advantages:

  • Disruption of traditional shopping methods
  • Revolutionizing the grocery delivery industry
  • Strategic focus on technology and innovation
  • Strong partnerships with thousands of stores
  • Commitment to customer experience and convenience

Emergence of New Competitors:

  • Retailers and tech giants launching their own grocery delivery services
  • Increased competition driving innovation and market growth

Instacart’s Success Factors:

  • Continuous investment in technology and user-friendly platforms
  • Strategic partnerships with a diverse network of stores
  • Focus on customer experience, reliability, and flexibility


Instacart has revolutionized the grocery delivery industry with its convenient and technology-driven business model. By partnering with thousands of stores and offering seamless online shopping and rapid on-demand delivery, Instacart has provided users with a hassle-free grocery shopping experience.

The company’s strategic partnerships have played a crucial role in its success. Collaborations with major retailers like Costco and Sam’s Club have expanded Instacart’s reach and customer base. Additionally, Instacart’s diverse revenue streams, including commissions, delivery and service fees, membership fees, and advertising, have contributed to its strong financial performance.

With its dominant market position and continued focus on customer acquisition, Instacart remains the leading player in the grocery delivery market. The company’s commitment to technology, partnerships, and customer experience sets it apart from its competitors and ensures its ongoing success in the industry.


What is Instacart’s business model?

Instacart operates as an on-demand grocery delivery service and online shopping platform. It utilizes a technology-driven business model and operates in the gig economy, partnering with grocery stores to fulfill orders and deliver them to customers.

How does Instacart generate revenue?

Instacart’s revenue streams include commissions from partner stores, delivery and service fees charged to customers, membership fees for its subscription service, and advertising partnerships.

How does Instacart acquire customers?

Instacart focuses on customer acquisition through its website and mobile app, as well as through partnerships with grocery stores. The company also utilizes press and internet marketing to reach potential customers.

Who are Instacart’s competitors in the grocery delivery market?

Some of Instacart’s competitors include Shipt, Amazon Fresh, Walmart+, Fresh Direct, and Blue Apron, each offering their own grocery delivery services.

What are Instacart’s strengths and weaknesses?

Instacart’s strengths include reliable partnerships, quick delivery times, strong customer service, a favorable financial position, and a diverse brand portfolio. Its weaknesses include a project management approach that may prioritize internal delivery over external stakeholder interests and pricing strategies that may not always be perceived as justified.

What are the opportunities and threats for Instacart?

Instacart has opportunities for growth in international markets, advancements in artificial intelligence, and emerging consumer trends. However, it also faces threats from increasing competition, sticky prices in the industry, and economic conditions affecting consumer spending patterns.

How has Instacart performed financially?

Instacart has achieved strong financial performance, with a valuation of over billion. The company has raised significant funding and experienced growth in income from operations.

What is Instacart’s customer cohort analysis?

Instacart conducts customer cohort analysis to understand customer behavior and trends. The data shows that the 2020 cohort, during the COVID-19 pandemic, still drives the largest percentage of Gross Transaction Value (GTV). New customers may not contribute significantly to GTV initially, but over time, they can become engaged and higher-spending customers.

What impact has Instacart had on the grocery delivery market?

Instacart has disrupted traditional shopping methods and revolutionized the grocery delivery industry. Its success has prompted other retailers and tech giants to enter the market with their own grocery delivery services, showcasing Instacart’s dominance and leadership in the industry.

What can be concluded about Instacart’s business model?

Instacart’s business model has transformed the grocery delivery industry by offering a convenient and technology-driven solution. Through strategic partnerships, multiple revenue streams, and a strong focus on customer acquisition, Instacart has become a dominant player in the market.