Instacart produces its own hand sanitizer

Dan Ochwat
Executive Editor
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Due to shortages of hand sanitizer supply during the coronavirus pandemic, Instacart has teamed up with a third-party company to manufacture its own hand sanitizer spray product just for its full-service Instacart shoppers; the move is part of an expanded list of safety measures that the online grocery delivery service has enacted to serve its workers.

Instacart said the sanitizer will be available by request online in about a week. The company had been collaborating with retailers to provide disinfecting supplies and sanitation stations for its Instacart shoppers over the last few weeks but the move is to ensure there’s enough available.

Instacart announced the sanitizer and new initiatives on Sunday, March 29, just ahead of a proposed strike by some Instacart shoppers, called upon by groups of Instacart shoppers and a nonprofit group called Gig Workers Collective, that claim the company hasn’t been doing enough to protect them.  

Instacart workers aren't alone. Whole Foods and Amazon employees have planned a walk out over better conditions and requesting additional pay.

For the last several weeks, the San Francisco-based company has been very busy, as online grocery delivery has seen a spike. Instacart said they’ve seen order volume grow by more than 150% year over year, with average customer basket sizes growing by 15%. For Instacart shoppers, they’re seeing earnings grow too, by as much as 40% month-over-month, according to Instacart.

The company added 50,000 new full-service shoppers recently and it’s looking to hire 300,000 full-service shoppers over the next three months to help serve its retailer partners in the U.S. and Canada.

In addition to the hand sanitizer, Instacart also announced a new default tip setting that could benefit its shoppers. Previously, Instacart had in place a default 5% tip setting on orders, but the new setting will default to whatever the Instacart user last tipped. So, if the Instacart user tipped a shopper 15% because of good service, for their next order the tip default will be 15%. The new setting also has eliminated the option for a user to click a 0% tip option, instead forcing a user to apply a 0% tip manually. In cases, where a shopper gets a less than 5% tip, the default is still set at 5%.

While testing the new setting, Instacart said they’ve seen a 30% increase in earnings for Instacart shoppers.

Other health initiatives the company said it has added to manage COVID-19 conditions:

  • bonuses for its shoppers based on the number of hours the worked from March 15 through April 15 in the range of $25 to $200;
  • sick pay for its part-time employees (an accrued benefit that can be used as paid time off if absent;
  • extended pay for part-time or full-time employees if diagnosed with COVID-19 or placed in quarantine;
  • Individual promotions based on demands in regions, customer demands and other factors, resulting in a $2 to $4 per batch increase or a chance to earn up to $50 in extra earnings based on completing several increased batches during a certain timeframe;
  • and contactless delivery options for customers to have groceries left at the door, as well as not needing to sign for purchases of alcohol.

For a complete look at what retailers are doing to manage coronavirus conditions for their staff and shoppers, see this retailer roundup that Store Brands put together.