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For $6, you can avoid those lines at Costco. Will you use Instacart?

Instacart, a grocery delivery service starts in Modesto Wednesday (11-28-17). Stores including Safeway and Costco are taking part.
Instacart, a grocery delivery service starts in Modesto Wednesday (11-28-17). Stores including Safeway and Costco are taking part. Instacart

Why fight the lines at the checkout counters when you can hire a personal shopper?

Instacart Inc. is rolling out its same-day grocery delivery service in Modesto Wednesday, allowing customers to order from retailers including Costco, Smart & Final, Safeway, Cash & Carry, CVS Pharmacy and Petco.

Customers who are busy at work or have stuff to do at home can place their orders online and an Instacart driver delivers the groceries and other purchases to their homes at a prearranged time. Instacart said the store purchases will be delivered in Modesto in as little as an hour.

According to a press release Tuesday, the new service also is available in Turlock, Ceres, Riverbank, Salida, Del Rio, Hughson, Empire and Denair. At this time, Oakdale, Waterford, Patterson and Newman are out of the loop.

It’s believed that more store chains are signing agreements with Instacart Inc. because of Amazon’s expansion into the grocery business. Founded in 2012, the same-day delivery company operates in more than 150 local market areas in the United States.

It’s anyone’s guess how well the delivery service will catch on with e-commerce customers who live in the Central Valley. Instacart said its own expansion into the Modesto area is in response to a large number of local requests for the delivery service.

The company said it was hiring more than 100 people to work as shoppers for Modesto-area customers. People place their orders for groceries and choose delivery times at www.Instacart.com or use a mobile app.

The Instacart shoppers, who are independent contractors, are given the orders electronically and drive to the store, where they choose the items from the shelves and the produce crates. They go through checkout like all the other shoppers and then make the deliveries to the doorsteps of customers.

On its website, Instacart boasts that its shoppers know how to pick perfectly ripe, fresh produce, and “we’ll keep your eggs safe too.”

People placing orders with Instacart can choose a delivery time within one or two hours or can schedule a delivery up to seven days in advance. If they are not going to be home, customers can leave instructions on the website on where to leave the parcels, but customers usually are at home, an Instacart spokesperson said.

The company said the delivery charge for an order of $35 or more is $5.99. Memberships costing about $15 a month or $149 a year will cover the delivery cost for orders of $35 or more. A free trial period and introductory discounts are being offered with the Modesto launch.

Dacyl Armendariz, communications director for Instacart, said customers placing orders have several payment options on the website. No money changes hands between the courier and customer at the doorstep, she said.

Armendariz said the service territories for the fast-growing San Francisco-based company are based on factors such as requests for service in zip codes, population density and driving distance from store partners, which may or may not explain why Oakdale and the three other cities were left out of Tuesday’s launch.

Those residents may not be waiting long thanks to Instacart’s rapid growth. “We would say, stay tuned and we hope to bring Instacart to them soon,” Armendariz said.

Armendariz said that background checks are done on the independent contractors who do the shopping and driving for the delivery service. The company does not disclose the hiring criteria, but the background checks are “done by a third party to ensure the safety of our customers,” Armendariz said.

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