Can't find the time to do your grocery shopping or need a little help with it?

Instacart, a national retail delivery service, has expanded to the Quad-Cities to provide customers with same-day delivery from three local retailers: Schnucks, Natural Grocers and Petco. The service is available to most of the metro Iowa and Illinois Quad-Cities and surrounding communities.

The delivery service has its own shoppers who hand-pick and deliver orders directly to customers. Customers place their order online or through Instacart's phone app and leave the heavy lifting to Instacart shoppers.

Martha Vargas, Instacart's Midwest operations manager, said the expansion marks the company's entrance into Iowa. "We were in all the major cities and now are expanding our geographies. Iowa was definitely a target for us because customers there have been asking for our services," she said.

Locally, she said 100 shoppers have been hired to date, but as demand grows both in customers and retail partners there will be more job opportunities. She said the shopper jobs attracts a wide variety of workers, some who shop five hours a week to those who shop 60 hours a week.

According to its website, there are two types of shoppers: Independent contractors who shop and deliver orders, and part-time employees who shop, but do not deliver.

Founded in 2012 in San Francisco, Instacart has grown rapidly to more than 190 markets spanning all 48 continental U.S. states and Hawaii.  Some of the national retailers it works with include Albertsons, Kroger, Costco, CVS, as well as regional grocers such as Schnucks and Publix.

"In some markets, we partner with a local grocer as long as we can work out the technology," Vargas said.

The Schnucks' grocery chain brands the service as Schnucks Delivers - Powered by Instacart. Schnucks Spokesperson Paul Simon said the company first partnered with Instacart in early 2017 in its home market of St. Louis. The Bettendorf store is among the last five of Schnucks' 100 Midwest stores to roll out the service.

"It's going to be good for business, it makes it more convenient for our customers," said Eric Wilson, store manager of the Bettendorf Schnucks. "For those customers we do have across the river, it does make it a lot easier for them than dealing with the bridge traffic."

According to Vargas, the process is seamless and "customers are kept in the loop" through an app that alerts them of their order's progress. "They know when a shopper gets to the store and is at the checkout."

For orders of $35 or more, the delivery fee is $5.99. Instacart Express also offers a membership for $14.99 a month or $149 a year, which gives the customer unlimited, free same-day deliver on orders of $35 or more.

"We can deliver in as soon as an hour, but in most cases it is two hours," Vargas said. "We do find the customers save money because they stop the impulse buying."

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