During the COVID-19 lockdown, Instacart became an essential service for millions of Americans trapped at home. Even as early as February, Instacart started noticing unusual demand for items such as toilet paper, canned vegetables and long-life milk.
The next few months accelerated the growth of Instacart, which in 2019 was losing $25 million every month. It recorded its first monthly profit in April 2020, netting $10 million, and CEO Apoorva Mehta said the company had passed its 2022 goals.
While Instacart doesn’t publish usage statistics, it added 300,000 more ‘shoppers’, riders responsible for picking up and delivery groceries, in the first half of 2020. At the end of 2019, it employed less than 100,000. It hired 350,000 more in 2020, with $35 billion in grocery sales.
Instacart was one of 20 businesses started by Mehta in the early 2010s, in a wave of entrepreneurial spirit in which he created a social network for lawyers and an ad network for gaming companies. Using his experience as a supply chain engineer for Amazon, Mehta built the system which took aim at his old boss.
It wasn’t long before Amazon shot back. In August 2017, it acquired Whole Foods for $13.7 billion. At the time, Whole Foods was responsible for 10 percent of Instacart sales, and some investors worried that Amazon would end the partnership.
Instead of shutting down the upstart, the Whole Foods acquisition scared the rest of the retail world, which quickly penned agreements with Instacart. What was considered an extension of the Whole Foods brand became a marketplace for all types of retailers, which were more accommodating to Instacart out of fear of the Amazon machine.
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The rise of a food delivery app would not be complete without several controversies. Like DoorDash, Instacart has been accused (and taken to court) for withholding tips and paying workers less than minimum wage. In 2019, Instacart workers set up a union and during the COVID pandemic, many walked out in protest of the lack of protective equipment.
Instacart has since provided PPE and made it much easier for customers to tip.
Will Instacart remain an essential service after lockdown? The company has no doubt received one of the greatest boosts to its chances of survival, with an IPO planned for 2021.
We have collected data and statistics on Instacart. Read on below to find out more.
Instacart key statistics
- Instacart reportedly generated $1.5 billion revenue in 2020, with $35 billion worth of sales
- During the coronavirus pandemic, Instacart hit its first profitable month, netting $10 million
- Instacart has an estimated 9.6 million active users and over 500,000 shoppers who pick up the items
- In March 2021, Instacart was valued at $39 billion
|Launch date||1 July 2012|
|HQ||San Francisco, California|
|People||Apoorva Mehta (CEO, co-fonder), Sagar Sanghvi (CFO)|
Note: A few of the values are estimates. We expect to find out more once Instacart IPO’s
Note: Instacart does not publish profitability. Our 2020 estimate is based on The Information’s report that Instacart hit its first profitable month in April and Forbes interview, in which Instacart says it generated $3 profit per order in the mid-2020s.
Source: The Information
Note: Instacart users use the app more than once a month. While peak users may be far higher than 9.6 million, we suspect active shoppers has fallen since the US economy has opened back up
Note: Shoppers are what Instacart calls its riders, who pick up the items from stores and deliver them
Note: Partners refers to retail and grocery companies that operate on Instacart.
Sources: Forbes, Instacart
Instacart cities available
Source: CB Insights
What is Instacart’s gross merchandise volume in 2020?
It was reportedly on track to process more than $35 billion in grocery sales this year (Bloomberg)
How much does the average Instacart Express customer spend?
Instacart Express customers spend on average $5,000 per year and at double the frequency
Does Instacart benefit towns?
A study found Instacart generates $620 million in incremental state revenue (Supermarket News)
What is an Instacart users average spend?
Instacart annual user spend is $512 (Rakuten Intelligence)
How many products are available on Instacart?
Over 500 million products are listed on Instacart
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