Instacart Clone: Reinventing Grocery Shopping1
EcommerceMobile Apps

Instacart Clone: Reinventing Grocery Shopping

A few clicks on the phone replaced our need for in-store shopping. A few years back online shopping was a luxury. Whereas today, it’s a necessity. Many on-demand delivery services experienced an upsurge, including the grocery delivery apps like the Instacart clone app.

The convenience of getting the grocery items delivered at your doorstep fresh & same day is the major reason why grocery delivery apps are growing high in demand.

So, if you are someone who offers essentials like groceries, Instacart clone can be the perfect model to start your eCommerce journey.

Here’s how:

The Marketscope of Instacart Clone

The grocery market is expected to reach $30 billion in sales by 2021. If you look at consumer spending, it states that they will spend upwards of $100 billion on food-at-home items by 2025.

Though there would be challenges in building an Instacart clone – grocery delivery apps like choosing the right business model, partnering with the retailers, stores, managing the inventory (if self-owned), and more. However, with the right guidance and proper planning, you can build a successful Instacart clone. Here’s how:

Though the reasons are infinite, here are some major reasons why people prefer grocery delivery apps rather than offline shopping.

  • Saves time

If you went shopping in a store, it would take you 30-60 minutes or more to pick up the products, make a purchase, and drive back home.
But with a grocery delivery app, it would take you hardly 5 minutes to place the order. Moreover, you can save yourself from all the traffic hurdles, parking, and other road issues while driving to and fro.

  • Convenience

You can place your order from anywhere, anytime provided you have an internet connection and a smartphone (all-time companion, as we call it).

  • Flexible delivery

People don’t have to worry about the delivery boy who would deliver in their absence. With delivery options, customers can select their preferable time and get their groceries on the doorstep.

  • Less impulsive buying

You can save yourself from buying an extra carton of chocolate chips ice cream from the billing counter. Because people are not worried about a round trip purchase from a grocery store, with grocery delivery apps.

Did we forget the COVID-19 pandemic?

One of the major reasons why grocery delivery apps are high on demand at present. With social distancing and limited physical contact, it has become difficult for people to get out of their houses and shop from brick-and-mortar stores. In fact, many delivery service providers and eCommerce businesses like Zomato, Uber, Amazon have started providing grocery, and other essentials and non-essentials delivery to customers.

How to Build an Instacart Clone App

The secret: It keeps retailers, consumers, and shoppers at the forefront. Instacart also has a dedicated mobile app to assist in-store shoppers and all those advanced features that give customers a feel of shopping in-store virtually.

Choose the business model

Business model of online grocery system

The solution to your successful Instacart clone starts with selecting the business model/type of grocery delivery app. You can select one of these:

  • Marketplace

Marketplace apps have their own delivery fleets and drivers to take orders and deliver the grocery to the doorstep. In case you don’t have a prior grocery related business but want to pursue a grocery app, then this is the most suitable business model for you. 

  • Aggregator

The aggregator model is all about tying up with local stores. All the stores nearby would be listed along with their menus. Customers can order groceries from their preferred store, which would then be collected by affiliated drivers and delivered at the doorstep. In this model, the fulfillment would depend on the store. Instacart runs on this model.

  • Grocery chains

If you have multiple chains of grocery stores, then this model is for you. Many big stores such as Walmart have their own app stores from where customers can order and get it delivered from the nearest chain.

  • Single stores

This model is for grocery owners having a single store and want to provide their regular customers with a convenient way of shopping grocery. It will be a success for a single store as every online ordering feature would be managed by the store itself, attracting customers directly towards its store.

  • Retailers

This model would allow fulfilling bulk orders. Instead of offering delivery services to individual customers, you would be serving retailers who are looking for bulk deliveries from big logistics like Walmart, Sam’s Club, etc.

Based on your plan, choose the business model to get started.

Other Successful Grocery Models You Can Replicate

Now that you have successfully completed your crash course on the Instacart clone – grocery delivery app. Let’s assess the alternatives that can be added to your list of competitors.

  • Amazon Fresh

Amazon Fresh provides Amazon prime members with their own grocery delivery app. Customers can browse and select through 500,000 products and get it delivered on the same day. The products include fresh foods, whole food market, home, and other essentials. 

It offers a 30-day free trial for customers to try their service before charging them.

  • Shipt

Shipt was launched in 2014 and provides grocery delivery from local shoppers to over 250 metros throughout the US. Using Shipt, people can get their orders delivered to their friends and relatives too. It has a monthly subscription of $14 and a yearly subscription of $99.

  • Freshdirect

Freshdirect partners with local farms, dairies, and fisheries, and provides a comprehensive list of 3000 products to choose from. It is more popular among east coasters and mostly provides grocery delivery services in locations such as New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Pennsylvania, and Washington D.C.

  • Peapod

With its root in 1989, Peapod is the oldest and experienced grocery delivery service, provider. It is the most efficient and its order genius feature – reordering the previous order, the meal kit feature makes it a tough competitor.

However, before moving ahead, let me give you an idea. You can go for a hybrid model combining aggregate and retailers models, with different divisions. An individual division where customers can order their grocery items and business division would allow retailers to order bulk. A win-win solution for both of you.

Decide the target audience

Research on your target audience based on the business model you’ve chosen for your Instacart clone.

Basically, your audience would comprise of:

  • Customers: One who orders groceries. They can be individuals or retailers.
  • Sellers/Vendors: Store owners/suppliers who provide products.
  • Delivery Person: The one who takes the order and delivers it.

To ensure business success and proper niche market, create a buyer’s persona considering their demographic, geographic, psychographic, and behavioral aspects.

Unique Value Proposition

It’s time to decide your unique offerings that will attract customers towards your business.

To provide grocery delivery services using Instacart clone, you can offer:

  • Different Services: Provide your individual and retailer customers with their type of delivery service. Moreover, you can offer doorstep delivery as well as in-store pickup. 
  • Flexible cancellation:  Allow customers to cancel the order with no charges or a cancellation fee. Suppose a customer cancels the order before it is accepted, then there would be no charges. And in case, the order is canceled after the order is accepted, you can levy a charge on customers.
  • Seller Brand Building: If you’re going for an aggregator model, ensure that your seller is at the forefront. Promoting your seller will help you in the long run.

Workflow of the Instacart Clone

Customer Workflow

  • The customer logs in to the account and sets their profile.
  • Adds the complete address and the location for doorstep delivery.
  • Selects the store from the list of the available stores.
  • Searches for specific products using search and filter options.
  • Add the products into the cart.
  • Make the payment and move onto the checkout.
  • In a while, the order is delivered at the doorstep.

Shopper Workflow

  • The shopper signs in using the email id and password.
  • Checks the received new request for the delivery.
  • Opens the delivery details mentioned along with time of delivery.
  • Buys the product based on the list and other specifications mentioned by the customer.
  • Delivers it to the customer.

And the order gets delivered.

Essential features of InstaCart Clone

If you want your tailored Instacart clone app, then here are the features that you need to look for:

Customer’s features:

  • Shopping list notepad: Where customers can write their complete shopping list.
  • Search and filter options: To help customers find specific products.
  • Add to cart: Allow users to add the items to be bought.
  • Popular and favorite items: Suggestions for users to enhance their shopping experience. 
  • Order tracking and management: Complete history of past orders along with real-time order tracking of the current order.
  • Push notifications: Update customers with deals and offers, products on sale, and in case an order is not in the stock or so.
  • Multiple payment options: Allow online payment using different payment methods like PayPal, Mastercard, e-wallets, net banking along with other options such as COD, Pay later, etc.
  • Scheduled delivery: Customers can schedule their delivery time using this feature.
  • QR code scanner: Customers can check the nutritional value of the product, its expiry, by scanning the QR code.
  • Recipe order: Integrate API that would allow customers to order directly for a specific recipe by auto-adding of the ingredients.

Shopper’s features:

  • Aisle Management: Gives shoppers a complete overview of the store and helps in finding the product in the store.
  • Live chat and call: Shoppers can contact customers in case a product is not available and to confirm the alternative which they suit would be best.
  • Delivery management: Manage all the successful/unsuccessful and pending deliveries.
  • Payment tracking: If the customer pays in cash, then with this feature they can update the received payment amount in the system.
  • Maps and Navigation: To help them with doorstep delivery.

All these features are mandatory for your Instacart clone app. But they would be in your competitor’s app too.  So what else you can do to gain an upper hand over your competitors? Let’s have a look.

COVID-19 advanced features

The new normal is not so normal, but people are trying to adopt it. To help people with this new trend of precaution and safety first, many on demand delivery services have come up with innovative features to provide grocery and other deliveries at the doorstep. Here are some features that you can incorporate in your Instacart clone app.

  • Contactless Delivery: To avoid physical contact, the delivery would be left at the doorstep. Just like Instacart’s ‘Leave at my door delivery’, you can integrate one in yours.
    • Priority Based Delivery: Automatic prioritizing of the delivery request based on the age group. As senior citizens have more demand for the grocery than youngsters, prefer providing services to the elderly first.
    • Precaution Check: A thorough precaution check of the delivery persons with the photo validation feature like Uber to ensure that the delivery person has taken all the safety measures.

Related: A Road Map to Building a Successful UberEats Clone App

Monetize To Earn Money

Time for some ROI planning. Just like every business, you need a revenue stream to grow, diversify to reach heights. And when it comes to grocery delivery apps, here are some monetization ideas that you can look for:

  • Commission

You can take an order based commission from all the stores listed on your platform. This works well for aggregator models.

  • Upcharge the item

You can post the rate of the item a little bit more than the actual rate. This monetization strategy is being used by almost all the platforms.

  • Delivery charges

You can charge your customers with a delivery fee and earn through that. This model is very common and is used by many food delivery services at present. Zomato is one such example.

  • Advertising

You can place ads of a specific store on your app and get revenue from it. But if you have a warehouse model, then this won’t work for you.

Futuristic Approach for your Instacart Clone 

  • Drones and robots for delivery

This approach is already existing, thanks to the spread of the virus that demanded a contactless delivery. Companies such as Wings provide this type of delivery for shipping snacks and healthcare products in Finland, Australia, Virginia. It is just a start but the future of this delivery system is bright.

  • In store pickup

Amazon Go’s in-store pickup service would be a demanding feature in the near future. Walmart is trying to replicate the same for their store. Instead of building your tech-based store like Amazon, you can start low, where customers can order and pay online and go to the store to pick (if in-store shopping is luxury for them but they don’t want to wait in the payment queue).

  • AI for quality check

Integrating AI for product quality check. Customers can know when the product was brought into the store and if the grocery item is in good condition.

  • Product comparison

What if a customer wants to check the price of a product in different stores before buying? Adding a product comparison feature will help customers on a tight budget to order wisely.

Technology Stack You’ll Require for Instacart Clone

To build your Instacart clone with the above-mentioned features, you need to have a thorough understanding of the technological stack.

Here we have sorted it out for you!


  • Programming languages

Well, it depends on the app you want to build. For a mobile app, there are various apps that you can build like Hybrid, PWA, Native. Next, if you are working on android then you would need javascript, whereas, for iOS, you will need Swift. You can choose from different mobile app frameworks: ReactJS, AngularJS, Xamarin, Flutter, Ionic, Vue.js.

For web development, you can go with ASP.Net, CakePHP, Laravel, WordPress, or use eCommerce platforms such as Odoo, Shopify, Woocommerce, etc.

  • Backend support and database 

For the database, you can go for MySQL. You will need to integrate an API for data sync such as Xero, etc.

  • Delivery options

With machine learning algorithms, you can update your client with their delivery status. The app will provide details such as delivery location, dispatch time, estimated delivery time.

  • Payment options

You will have to add a secure payment gateway to your app. PayPal, Mastercard, Stripe are mostly preferred by developers. Make sure to add multiple payment gateways.

  • Navigation

To help shoppers/delivery people with customer addresses, you would need a GPS Navigation. For android, you can integrate Google Maps and for iOS, you can use MapKit.

  • Messages and Notifications

For instant messaging, live chat, and call support, you would need to integrate APIs such as voice API, you can integrate Zoom API for live video calls, MailChimp for emails, etc.

Over to you!

So should you develop an Instacart clone?

The final answer would be Yes!

With the pandemic, many people are turning towards home-cooked meals and are looking for ways to get their products delivered to the doorstep. So this is the right time to develop your Instacart clone.

By proper planning and implementation, you can build your Instacart clone.

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