7 min read

    7 min read

    For most people, shopping in-store and delivering groceries via contactless delivery is the best way to work with Instacart. Your hours are flexible and you accept delivery orders based on how much you’ll earn. However, for some Instacart shoppers, being an in-store shopper (no delivery) is a full-time gig. What’s the difference between an Instacart in-store shopper vs. Instacart full-service shopper? RSG contributor Chonce Maddox-Rhea breaks it down below.

    Instacart has become one of the most popular grocery delivery apps for both customers and drivers. The app partners with local and big-box stores like Costco, Whole Foods, and Target and boasts convenient same-day delivery options for customers.


    Over time this service has become essential and created additional gig-economy jobs as a result.

    With Instacart, there are two ways to make money: become a full-service shopper or work as an in-store shopper. If you’re wondering what the main difference is between the two and which one would be best for you, you’re not alone.

    There are pros and cons to working with Instacart in either position. In this article, I’ll break down how each job works and what shoppers and drivers are saying about their experience.

    The difference between full-service and in-store shoppers:

    • Instacart full-service shoppers do it all: shopping in store and delivering groceries to someone’s house
    • Full-service shoppers work flexible hours on their own schedules
    • Instacart in-store shoppers only shop in-store – no delivery
    • In-store shoppers are W-2 employees and have a set schedule
    • Sign up for Instacart here!

    Delivering For Instacart

    If it’s one thing people need, it’s fresh groceries at least weekly. If you’re looking for an easy way to make money, Instacart hires deliverers as independent contractors to drop off food items that a customer orders conveniently from the app.

    Anyone who’s familiar with rideshare driving knows that it’s pretty similar. Only instead of dropping a person off, you’re dropping off groceries and household goods.

    Sometimes Instacart offers bonuses to new drivers in addition to flat-rate pay based on distance. Plus, you get to keep your tips.

    Learn how to batch shop with Instacart here: Instacart shopper app tutorial:


    What is an In-Store Shopper for Instacart?: In-Store Shopper Overview & Requirements

    Just as the title sounds, an Instacart in-service shopper is someone who works in the store and does the grocery shopping only. You don’t have to deliver the items since an Instacart delivery driver will complete this task.

    Instead, you’ll be placed at a store where Instacart orders come in regularly. Then, you’ll be able to shop for the items and get them ready for a delivery driver to bring to the customer.

    If you’ve been to Walmart lately, you’ve probably seen their in-store shoppers pushing blue crates and fulfilling orders to Walmart pick-up customers. It’s the same idea with in-store stopping for Instacart.

    Shoppers receive orders through an app on their smartphone then shop and bag the groceries in the store. This is a part-time W2 position where you’re paid hourly.

    How Do I Apply to Become an In-Store Shopper for Instacart?

    It’s the same process to become an In-Store shopper for Instacart as it is to become a Full-Service shopper. The only difference is whether Instacart is hiring for W-2 In-Store shoppers in your area yet.

    Since this is always fluctuating, you should definitely apply now. You’ll either be accepted immediately or be placed on a waitlist.

    How Much Do Instacart In-Store Shoppers Get Paid?

    In-store shopper hourly rates vary by city and location. However, Glassdoor estimates that the average pay is $13 per hour based on reports from previous and current Instacart in-store shoppers. Hourly rates can vary between $7 to $21 per hour which is a pretty significant range.

    If you apply and get approved to work as a shopper, you should definitely confirm the hourly rate as well as how many hours you can expect to work weekly. While some drivers online claim that they can make more with full-service shopping, others are not as willing to take the risk.

    One in-store shopper stated on Indeed: “It depends on your position. I am a part time in-store only shopper and I’m paid $14 per hour guaranteed regardless if an order pops up. My husband is a driver and it depends on the batch.”

    An in-store shopper in St. Louis, Missouri says shoppers make $11.25 to $11.50 per hour and work 16 to 20 hours per week on average:


    What is a Full-Service Instacart Shopper?: Full-Service Shopper Overview & Requirements

    A full-service shopper is someone who shops for an Instacart order and delivers it to the customer. You work as an independent contractor and can choose shifts to work a week in advance, receive orders through the app, then head to the store and shop for the items.

    After you finish shopping, you get directions to the customer’s house through the app, make the delivery – done!

    In March, Instacart announced plans to bring on 300,000 new full-service shoppers and they quickly met that goal in a few weeks growing the community to over 500,000 people. Moving forward, they are focused on bringing on additional shoppers in key areas with the most consumer demand.

    Some of these in-demand areas are in states including:

    • California
    • New York
    • Texas
    • Florida
    • Illinois
    • Pennsylvania
    • Virginia
    • New Jersey
    • Georgia
    • Ohio

    Instacart full-service shoppers earn $20+ per hour on average, but what you earn all depends on factors like how many hours you work and the size of your orders.

    Some orders are offered in batches so you’ll earn a specific rate once you fulfill 2 to 3 orders for example. Remember, you also get to keep 100% of your tips too.

    What is the Difference Between an Instacart In-Store Shopper vs. a Full-Service Instacart Shopper?

    As you can see, being an in-store shopper is completely different from working as a full-service shopper.

    For starters, you need a car if you’re going to deliver items to the customer and you’ll also have to pay for your own gas and car maintenance. Visit our driver vehicle marketplace if you’re looking for a vehicle to do deliveries with!

    San Francisco or Seattle Instacart shopper? Use Gig car share to deliver with Instacart!

    As an independent contractor, you can deduct some of these expenses, but it still stings when you have to pay for them upfront. Full-service shoppers should always track their income after expenses and taxes to get a realistic view of how profitable this work can be.

    As an in-store shopper, you don’t need a car and can take advantage of some of the benefits of being an employee, like earning a guaranteed wage with guaranteed hours. However, your income will likely be capped.

    Full-service Instacart shoppers can only work a maximum of 29 hours per week but you can work strategically to maximize your income. For example, this may include earning higher customer ratings and being able to schedule your shifts early to work during peak times on busy days.

    Another thing you can do is set your desired work zone to an area that you know is very busy where people tip well. You can also deny shopping trips that don’t seem like they’ll be worth your time.

    There are so many Instacart strategies that full-service shoppers can utilize to their benefit. One driver we spoke with earned $2,000 per week driving for Instacart during the unprecedented times brought on by Covid-19, so earning a decent income as a full-service shopper can be done.

    Most Instacart Shoppers are Full-Service Shoppers

    Due to the W-2 process of becoming an in-store shopper, most Instacart shoppers are full-service (i.e. flexible) shoppers.

    If you like grocery shopping and don’t want to deal with the delivery aspect of the job along with the wear and tear on your car, you may opt to try Instacart’s in-store shopping part-time position.

    Head over to Instacart to see if they are hiring for in-store shoppers in your city.

    However, if you’re looking for more flexibility, Instacart’s full-service option may be better for you. In addition to having full flexibility over your time and earnings, you can also shop with a buddy or bring your children along with you if needed. Getting started as a full-service shopper is also faster and easier than going through the W-2 process of being an in-store shopper.

    Sign up to become a full-service shopper with Instacart here.

    Want to learn more about maximizing your earnings with Instacart? Make sure to check out all of our latest Instacart videos here!

    Do you work for Instacart as a full-service or in-store shopper? Let us know!

    Sign up for Instacart here!

    Want More Tips? Deliver With DoorDash

    ddlgoDashers receive tips on 97% of their deliveries. DoorDash has a tip button and encourages customers to setup "automatic" tips. Become a dasher here.

    -Chonce @ RSG

    Chonce Maddox Rhea

    Chonce Maddox Rhea

    Choncé is a freelance writer who’s obsessed with living well on a budget and loves encouraging people to make extra money so they can meet their financial goals. She is happily married to one of the best Uber drivers in the Chicago metro area, who currently has 2,800+ trips under his belt.