Everything You Need To Know About Instacart's Subscription Upgrade

Instacart is giving its premium subscription service an upgrade, hoping to retain subscribers as food prices continue to rise and product shortages plague American grocery stores. According to a press release, the service is called Instacart+ and it will replace Instacart Express.

Although the company is rebranding its subscription service, Instacart+ is more of an upgrade than a whole new product. The subscription still offers free deliveries on orders over $35, reduced service fees, and offers 5% credit back on eligible pickup orders, which Instacart FAQs states excludes alcohol, prescription medication, and any individual item worth more than $150. Additionally, the service has not increased in price. A subscription to Instacart+ costs $9.99 per month or $99 for a year, which the company states will pay for itself with just two orders per month.

So if the price and perks are the same, what's new? The biggest new feature of Instacart+ is the "family account" feature, which allows the account holder to add one extra person to their account and that person will receive the same membership benefits. This person could be a parent, child, sibling, or even a friend or roommate. For family account members who live together, the two account users can both place items in a "family cart" to avoid multiple deliveries, or they can keep items in their own individual cart, a feature which could be useful for college students living away from home.

There are additional Instacart+ benefits exclusive for Chase card holders.

Trying to retain customers

The switch from Instacart Express to Instacart+ comes after the company made a few other improvements to its service in recent months. TechCrunch reported in May that Instacart revised its shopper rating system so one or two bad reviews would have less negative impacts on delivery employees, while Tech Radar notes that the delivery giant improved its security features for drivers and customers after a 2020 data leak.

The move to promote savings by allowing households to share accounts may be a maneuver by Instacart — which TechCrunch reported grew by 500% in 2020 — to retain customers as inflation is causing some people to return to in-person shopping. According to Morning Consult, the number of shoppers who report having used online grocery delivery services like Instacart and Amazon Fresh at least once a week has dropped by 7-11%, dependent upon demographic, between October 2021 and April 2022, despite COVID-19 concerns. This was the force that pushed 60% of Americans to start using delivery apps in 2020.

With food inflation reaching record highs across the U.S. and Europe, more people are reporting cutting back on spending, which could include cutting out delivery fees and bargain shopping between brands, something which may be easier to do in-person for households on a budget.