Instacart brings virtual shopping to Tallahassee

Photo special to the Outlook


By Shaqueria Howard
Outlook Writer

On any given day, the to-do list for the typical family could include dropping the children off to a soccer match, making a PTO meeting and sometimes even more.
And we haven’t even talked about picking up a few groceries before heading home. Nor that treat for the pet.
Well, that task of having to pick up groceries or pet food could be crossed off the list for some Tallahassee residents.
Instacart, a company that offers the convenience of on-line grocery shopping, is now taking some of the hustle and bustle out of shopping at five local stores. Seemingly some could hardly wait for the Instacart service, said Brittany Billingslea, a customer service associate at Publix.
“I can’t wait to see the outcome of it both ways,” Billingslea said. “For parents when they drop their kids off for school and elderly people who are retiring and settling in Tallahassee.”
In addition to Publix, Instacart’s service will be available through Whole Foods, ABC Fine Wine and Spirits, Costco  and Petco.
Instacart launched the service in Tallahassee this past Thursday. The company started its local service with 43 employees, but it expects to have a workforce of 100. Additional hires could be made in the fall.
“Since we have FSU and FAMU in our area we will be super busy during football time,” said Joyce Ellis, an Instacart mentor.
She added: (It) is a great reason why Instacart will be big here too because of our two colleges.”
Shoppers will have the option of logging onto Instacart’s website ( to make their purchases. However, Publix and Costco also offer a link on their website.
Each on-line order will be filled by a personal shopper from Instacart.
“The good thing about our partnership is that it looks like its Publix delivery,” said Kerri Hawkins, an Instacart mentor, who trained the personal shoppers. “Customers can go directly to the store’s website and start the delivery from there.”
Instacart, which started five years ago, is one of the latest companies to join a growing on-line trend for shopping. A U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey reported that the on-demand businesses attract an estimated 22.4 million consumers annually. It generates $57.6 billion in spending.
Additionally, the Census Bureau estimated that 5.5 million people order food on-line each month at the cost of $4.6 billion annual spending.
Instacart wants its share of the financial pie and coming to Tallahassee is a step in that direction.
The company delivery area will cover over 116,000 households that are within a 14-mile radius of each store.  In Tallahassee, service will be available for residents of Fort Braden, Woodville, Perkins, Homestead Ridge, Centerville, Bradfordville, Felkel, Miccosukee, Lamonia and Scotland.
“I know Instacart wants to expand in Florida, aggressively,” said Hawkins. “As far as zones we have a direct relationship with Publix and wherever Publix expresses their customers’ needs for delivery we try to go to that area.”