5 min read

    5 min read

    Looking to avoid some of the most common beginner mistakes for Instacart shoppers? RSG contributor Katie Heflin shares some of her rookie errors as an Instacart driver to help you avoid making the same mistakes.

    Best of all, by avoiding these mistakes early in your Instacart shopping experience, you’ll be on track to earn more – and be way less frustrated!


    Quick links:

    Top 7 Mistakes Beginners Make with Instacart

    Watch the video here or below: Instacart Shopper Training: 7 Mistakes Beginners Make with Instacart


    1. Accepting huge wholesale store orders

    Shopping at places like Costco and Sam’s Club can be trouble if not done right. My limit is only 8 items and 10-15 units (so they can get 8 items, and 3 or so of each item).

    Why? It’s hard to shop for a ton of items in multiple quantities efficiently, and sometimes it’s hard to fit in your car!

    2. Delivering to a different delivery address

    On the one hand, it’s great that people use their app to shop for their grandma or others who can’t leave the house. The problem happens when they make an order for themselves and forget to change the delivery address to their own home address.

    One time, I ended up spending an hour and a half in the store and driving an extra 20 miles, only to receive $12 for all of that… and no tip. Here’s where I went wrong: I saw the customer had gone back and forth with customer service about a new delivery destination. The customer had originally forgot to update their destination (they had been making orders for someone else).

    They demanded the new delivery be brought to a new location after I already was on my way to the original location. All this shopping and back and forth… for $12. It was ridiculous.

    Be careful if you see a lot of back and forth between the customer and customer service – it’s probably trouble and you should just cancel the order.

    3. Shopping for businesses

    90% of veteran Instacart shoppers refuse to do it – and there’s a good reason why. Businesses don’t tip and they treat you like an unpaid intern. They’ll demand you bring everything up, put it in a certain location, ignore you and not tip.

    Just avoid them! You’ll know it’s a business because it looks like a monopoly hotel piece on your app (watch the video above to see what this looks like).

    4. Parking in a tow zone

    Just do not park in a tow zone! Personally, I like parking next to a shopping cart corral so you can drop off your cart and go. That’s the ideal scenario. But parking in a tow zone? No way.

    Unfortunately, it’s really difficult to avoid these situations in downtown areas. It’s virtually impossible to find parking, pay for parking, get reimbursed for parking, etc.

    And no, don’t park in a disabled parking spot. That’s just wrong – make the customer come and get their stuff.

    5. Wearing Instacart’s ‘uniform’

    In the beginning, Instacart would hand out shirts to shoppers (or necklaces). You do not have to wear them, and I definitely don’t. I’ve found cashiers and even customers at the store seem to treat you poorly.

    6. Accepting triple or large double batches

    I personally don’t like triple batches or even large double batches. I like to get groceries one at a time and make deliveries one at a time. It can be stressful to organize and even deliver large, multiple batches and watch out if you have frozen food!

    Just avoid it altogether.

    7. Getting more than 3 cases of water

    This seems really weird, but people seem to enjoy buying tons and tons of cases of water. Why they just don’t have Sparkletts deliver, I don’t know.

    In the beginning, I would accept orders that asked for tons of cases of water (8+!). I learned quickly and the hard way that most people do not help you bring these cases of water in.

    I once had a man bring me a dolly and watched me deliver case after case of water – not helping, not tipping – and I was 5 months pregnant! I guarantee you most people will not help you with the cases of water and they will not tip.

    Just let people know you won’t deliver more than 3 cases – some will get mad but that’s not your problem!

    Takeaways for Beginning Instacart Shoppers

    You are an independent contractor and you have the right to decline or cancel any order you don’t want to take. Many customers are beginning to realize we all have normal cars, not delivery trucks, and we’re simply not going to deliver huge orders for them anymore.

    You will still find customers asking for huge orders, or Instacart encouraging you to accept more batches at once, but learn from my mistakes and don’t take them! Someone else eventually will, so the customer will be fine.

    Focus on your bottom line, turning orders over quickly (reasonable orders with close delivery locations), and if something seems difficult to you, listen to your gut and cancel. Good luck out there!

    -Katie @ RSG

    Quick links:

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    Melissa Berry

    Melissa Berry

    Melissa left her job in Homeland Security to become a full-time editor and project manager. When not working behind the scenes at RSG, she likes to travel and take rides as a pax with Uber/Lyft to get the scoop on how drivers feel about driving, their rideshare markets - and the best places to eat.