Instacart is rolling out a new platform to deliver smoother omnichannel experiences

Image courtesy of Instacart

Online grocery pioneer Instacart is ready for Act 2. Through the new Instacart platform, announced March 23, the San Francisco-based online grocery pioneer is giving retailers including Publix , Schnuck Markets and Key Food, access to the technologies behind its consumer market to power their own digital properties and retail operations.

The platform seeks to expand what Instacart already offers in terms of digital storefronts and fulfillment solutions: now, for example, Instacart’s merchandising, product discovery and loyalty-as-a-service offerings will be available to retailers on their own websites, regardless of whether they use Instacart’s storefront technology, noted Instacart CEO Fiji Simo.

In the area of ​​fulfillment, Instacart Platform will offer delivery solutions in as little as 15 minutes via Carrot warehouses—nano fulfillment centers (NFCs) run by Instacart but with retailer-owned inventory and supply chains.

Additional Instacart platform offerings, available à la carte for retailers, include digital tools and connected hardware intended to improve the physical shopping experience for consumers – smart, scanning-free shopping carts, for example, with tools to help shoppers find items they’ve added to their online grocery list in-store.

“The grocery industry is undergoing a digital transformation where customers expect a seamless experience across many channels, but behind the scenes it takes an incredible amount of work and investment from retailers to deliver these new services. “, said Simo, who took over the helm of Instacart last summer, in a press release. “We are looking to change that with the Instacart platform.”

In an exclusive interview with Winsight Grocery, Simo added that Platform represents a “the evolution of the company’s strategy.” Act 1, she said, “was sort of bringing groceries online, and we certainly did that successfully, but through the process we developed a great understanding of consumers and capabilities of consumers that our retailers have started asking us for their own properties”.

The company’s work to dramatically expand its online and in-store shopping capabilities, refreshed in Platform, Simo said, “will help retailers innovate faster than ever on their own properties.”

Three features will be essential to the Instacart platform:

  • carrot ads, which Instacart says is unlocking new digital revenue streams for retailers by bringing the best of Instacart advertising – technology, products, engineering and sales talent, and data insights – to owned e-commerce sites and operated by retailers. It also includes revenue share models for an additional source of profit. Carrot Ads is currently being tested with retailers such as Schnucks, Good Food Holdings and Plum Market, with plans to roll it out more widely later this year. “Through our five iconic food retail brands, we operate in a dynamic industry where we must meet consumer expectations, both online and offline,” said Neil Stern, CEO of Good Food Holdings, the holding company of Bristol Farms, Lazy Acres. Natural Market, Metropolitan Market, New Seasons Market and New Leaf Community Markets. “Our goal is to leverage the best technology and the best partnerships in the industry to future-proof our omnichannel retail business.”
  • Carrot warehouses, which helps retailers create more flexible local fulfillment models to unlock features like super-fast 15-minute delivery. As a comprehensive solution, Instacart will work with retailers to enable end-to-end fast delivery solutions tailored to their needs, including building new nano-fulfillment centers, designing floor plans, setting up place automation services and ongoing operations management. In the coming months, according to Instacart, Carrot Warehouses will provide super-fast 15-minute delivery for Publix customers in Atlanta and Miami. “The Instacart platform continues to power our omnichannel strategy, powering curbside delivery and pickup in our markets. Our partnership also enables Publix to serve customers in new ways, solving additional use cases by enabling meal delivery and virtual convenience,” said Maria Brous, communications director for Lakeland, Utah-based Publix. Florida. “Our new NFCs, built with the Instacart platform, enable super-fast delivery in our major metropolitan areas, allowing customers to get what they need in just 15 minutes. We look forward to continuing to test and iterate on these new concepts as consumer needs continue to evolve.
  • Overview of carrots, which provides retailers with near real-time visibility into their operations to help them make informed business decisions. Its dashboards track key performance and operational metrics, such as order volumes and out-of-stocks across the Instacart platform and retailers’ Instacart app storefronts. Key Food Stores Co-Op Inc., a cooperative of independent supermarkets in Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Florida, is one of the first retailers to adopt Carrot Insights. “As a co-op with a variety of banners that make up the Key Food family of supermarkets, it’s extremely important for us to understand not only how each of our banners works, but also how our e-commerce business works as a whole.” said George Knobloch, chief operating officer of New York-based Key Food, “We are thrilled with the new Carrot Insights and look forward to continuing to use it to help us access actionable insights as we continue expand our e-commerce efforts and make our stores more accessible and convenient for customers.”

Other retailers currently using the Instacart platform include Aldi and Food Bazaar, Instacart said in a statement.

Evolve beyond the weekly shop

Since its inception in 2012, Instacart has been “focused on creating a differentiated customer experience,” Simo said in a blog post. It all started with the Instacart app, bringing groceries online, with a focus on the weekly store.

“We’ve helped people find their favorite products, built an innovative advertising business that inspired people to try new brands, connected people to our dedicated community of shoppers, and did it all at scale without losing our focus on what mattered most: helping retailers and customers build deeper relationships,” she said.

As consumer expectations have evolved, Instacart has also helped retailers build their own websites and apps, powered by Instacart technology, and in some cases, Simo said, “we’ve also helped our partners to do things that weren’t possible in the physical world—like creating virtual convenience stores to deliver nationwide in 30 minutes,” referring to Publix Quick Picks, which launched in September 2021 and allows customers to Shop Publix’s assortment of fresh groceries, pantry and household essentials, meals and snacks for delivery in as little as 30 minutes with Instacart Priority Delivery.

“Along the way, consumer expectations have changed. People wanted new ways to connect with each retailer and get personalized recommendations, multiple delivery options, and a seamless online and in-store experience,” said Simo. “So we moved from focusing exclusively on the weekly store to more use cases such as bulk monthly stock, convenience, and liquor. We moved into catering with the acquisition from FoodStorm. We enabled all delivery windows, from 30 minutes to two hours overnight. We made grocery delivery more accessible by accepting EBT SNAP payments. Each time, we brought these innovations not only to our own Instacart app, but also to the websites and properties of our grocers.

Just last week, Instacart launched Shoppable Recipes on TikTok, Tasty and Hearst Magazines properties such as Delish and Good Housekeeping, allowing consumers to discover new recipes and add the ingredients to their carts at the same time. .

“We don’t believe the future of grocery shopping is about choosing between online and offline,” Simo said. “It’s about helping customers find the foods they love from retailers they trust, no matter where they are or how they choose to shop.”

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