Last Updated: May 10, 2024

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Rohit Rawat

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Instacart may be a household name, but its dominance doesn't mean there's no room for innovation. The success of various apps like Instacart such as Shipt, Kroger, and Walmart Plus proves that!

  • Annual Revenue of Shipt (2023) - $1.0 Billion
  • Walmart's membership fee revenue (By January 2024) -  $3.1 Billion 
  • Kroger Revenue from Digital Deliveries (2023) - $12 billion

Customers crave options – specific stores, personalized service styles, and control over their orders.

If you have a unique idea for an app similar to Instacart, targeting a niche audience or service need, and you execute it flawlessly, there's a space for you in this thriving market.

Unlike copycats, these Instacart like apps cater to specific demographics and preferences.

  • Shipt focuses on brand recognition and excellent customer service
  • Kroger Delivery emphasizes convenience and integration with existing loyalty programs for their customers.
  • Walmart Plus seamlessly integrates grocery delivery with existing shopping habits for frequent Walmart customers.

By analyzing these diverse approaches, we'll explore what makes them successful and spark your creativity. Let's see what we can learn to make your app like Instacart a reality.

But before that, let’s take a look at why someone might be interested in using an app that is similar to Instacart.

Reasons Why Someone Might Seek an Instacart Alternative

Limited Rural Reach

Instacart's model relies on a network of both available grocery stores and a pool of shoppers located within a reasonable distance of customers. Less populated rural areas often lack one or both of these necessities, making service expansion difficult.

Cost Considerations

Instacart, in order to operate, adds delivery fees, service fees, and sometimes even marks up item prices compared to what you'd pay shopping in-person. While convenient, these combined costs can make it significantly more expensive than a traditional grocery trip, especially for large orders.

Technology Accessibility

Instacart heavily relies on its website and mobile app for ordering. Potential customers unfamiliar with smartphones or those with poor internet connections may find it challenging to use the service. Individuals uncomfortable with online shopping platforms might also face difficulties, creating an accessibility barrier.

Opportunity for Apps Similar to Instacart

The success of Instacart and its competitors isn't just a sign of convenience winning over tradition – it's a demonstration of the ever-growing demand for on-demand grocery delivery.  But these existing solutions are just the tip of the iceberg.

What if you could offer something truly unique? A hyper-local grocery app focusing on fresh produce directly from local farms?  A grocery delivery service that caters to specific dietary needs or cultural preferences? The possibilities are endless!

Here's the beauty of building your own app: You're not limited by the one-size-fits-all approach of existing platforms. You can tailor the experience to your target audience, address unmet needs, and potentially disrupt the grocery delivery industry as we know it.

Apps Like Instacart You Can Take Inspiration From

Let’s discuss in detail about the 3 major online grocery delivery platforms that are similar to Instacart. We will take a look at their pros, cons, and development considerations one-by-one. This will help you figure out what makes these brands click with their customers and the scope for improvement.

FeatureShiptKrogerWalmart Plus
ModelTarget-owned, shoppers under ShiptTied to Kroger storesTied to Walmart stores and ecosystem
ProsStrong brand, good service, wide store selectionStore selection, loyalty integration, choice in fulfillmentFrequent Walmart shopper savings, extra perks
ConsMembership fee, potential limited areasGeographic limitations, fees, competitionOrder minimums, tied to Walmart inventory
Target Audience Target fans, busy people, those valuing serviceLoyal Kroger shoppers, those seeking convenienceLoyal Walmart shoppers, fuel savings seekers

Shipt

Apps Similar to Instacart - shipt

Owned by Target, Shipt is an app like Instacart that leverages this connection to offer same-day delivery from an extensive network of stores. This often includes, but isn't limited to, Target locations, making it a great choice for fans of the retail giant.

Shipt prioritizes personalized customer service through its dedicated shoppers. This focus on building relationships can result in shoppers who become familiar with your preferences and go above and beyond to ensure a positive experience.

Like Instacart Express, Shipt utilizes a membership-based model. This subscription often provides benefits like free delivery on orders over a certain amount. However, it’s worth carefully comparing membership costs and delivery zones between Shipt and competitors before making a decision.

Pros of Shipt

Strong Brand Backing

Being owned by Target provides instant recognition and credibility, especially for those already familiar with and loyal to the Target brand. This can significantly reduce the marketing efforts required to establish trust with new users. Additionally, the app can leverage the positive reputation of Target's customer service to set the bar high for its own service standards.

Excellent Customer Service

An emphasis on shopper quality can lead to loyal customers who appreciate the personalized touch. This can be achieved through a rigorous vetting process for potential shoppers. This process should include ongoing training that emphasizes excellent communication skills, attention to detail, and the ability to handle special requests. Additionally, a robust rating and review system incentivizes good service while providing valuable feedback for shopper improvement.

Wide Store Selection

Offering a variety of stores beyond just Target caters to a broader audience. This gives users the flexibility to choose their preferred stores or find specialty items they might not get at Target. However, clear communication about available stores within a user's delivery zone is essential to avoid confusion or disappointment.

Potential for Exclusive Deals

Partnerships with stores could enable unique promotions or discounts exclusive to the app. Leveraging the Target connection could provide additional benefits. This might take the form of bundled savings on complementary items from different stores, special loyalty point offers, or exclusive early access to sales events.

Focus on Community

If targeting a smaller geographic area, highlighting the idea of shoppers supporting their local economy can resonate with potential users. Many consumers seek to buy from businesses within their communities, adding an additional positive aspect to the app's image. Promoting local stores and farms, and partnering with local businesses for special events or initiatives that give back to the community can foster a strong sense of brand loyalty.

Cons of Shipt

Membership Model

A subscription fee might deter some occasional or price-conscious shoppers. These potential customers may perceive the additional cost as outweighing the convenience, especially if they only need grocery delivery services infrequently.

Potential Geographic Limitations

Service areas may be more limited than major competitors like Instacart. Clearly outlining serviceable zones is crucial, as is a plan for strategic and sustainable expansion into new markets to remain competitive.

Inventory Syncing

Ensuring real-time inventory accuracy across multistores can be a significant technical challenge. Inaccurate inventory data can lead to frustrated customers if items they order are out of stock, requiring shoppers to choose substitutions or cancel parts of the order. Robust API integration or a central inventory management system would be necessary.

Development Considerations for Shipt

Shopper Network

Building and managing a reliable pool of shoppers who provide great service is crucial to this model. This goes beyond simple recruitment.

  • A thorough vetting process can help ensure the onboarding of trustworthy individuals. This may include background checks, verification of driving records (if applicable), and potentially even in-person interviews.
  • The app should provide shoppers with clear guidelines, best practices for order fulfillment, and guidance for handling common customer requests and issues.
  • A fair and transparent compensation system is key to attracting and retaining top-notch shoppers. The system should consider factors like base pay, bonuses for peak hours, mileage reimbursement, and tips.
Robust Order Management

The system needs to efficiently handle multiple store orders, shopper assignments, and real-time updates for both customers and shoppers. This includes:

  • Intelligent order batching algorithms can group orders for efficiency based on location, store, and time of day, maximizing shopper output and minimizing unnecessary travel.
  • GPS tracking allows customers to follow their order's progress and provides valuable data for optimizing routes and delivery times in the future.
  • The app should facilitate in-app communication between shoppers and customers for substitutions or addressing issues. Customers should also be able to reach support with any problems.
Target Integration

If partnering with an existing retailer, tight integration with their inventory and POS systems is vital. Collaboration with their technical team is necessary to ensure:

  • Real-time inventory updates can be achieved by having the system directly reflect Target's inventory levels with minimal lag time, avoiding order cancellations due to out-of-stock items.
  • The app should ensure that any Target-specific deals or discounts are reflected accurately to avoid customer confusion or frustration at checkout.
Scalable Infrastructure

Planning for the ability to handle rapid growth in users and order volume is crucial. Cloud-based solutions excel in this area:

  • The system can scale server capacity up or down quickly based on demand without the need to invest in expensive hardware that might sit idle during quieter times.
  • Database optimization allows the system to handle large amounts of order data, customer information, and shopper metrics without slowing down performance.
  • Security measures to protect sensitive data at all stages of the process – encryption, secure login, and regular penetration testing – should be top priorities, especially as the app grows.

Walmart Plus

Apps Similar to Instacart - Walmart Plus

This is a great choice for those who frequently shop at Walmart, as it includes free delivery on groceries (with order minimums). This can eliminate numerous individual delivery fees, potentially leading to significant savings for loyal Walmart customers. It's important to compare the cost of the membership against potential savings and the typical order size.

Benefits of this app similar to Instacart extend beyond grocery, including discounts on fuel and streaming services. Walmart Plus aims to create an ecosystem that keeps users engaged with their brand across multiple facets of their lifestyle. For example, gas discounts can be appealing to regular commuters and families, while access to streaming services adds entertainment value to the subscription.

Pros of Walmart Plus

Free Grocery Delivery

Unlimited free deliveries on orders over a certain amount offer significant savings potential for frequent Walmart shoppers. This appeal increases for those who might otherwise pay per-order delivery fees, and for whom the convenience of delivery consistently outweighs the cost of a membership.

Time Savings

The ability to shop from home and have everything brought to your door appeals to time-strapped individuals and busy families. Eliminating the time spent traveling to and from the store, navigating aisles, and waiting at checkout can be a major advantage of Walmart Plus.

Mobile Scan & Go

In-store shoppers can use the Walmart Plus app to scan items as they shop, then expedite their checkout process in a dedicated lane. This streamlines the shopping experience, minimizing time spent waiting in traditional checkout lines.

Fuel Discounts

Members receive discounts at participating Walmart, Murphy, and Sam's Club gas stations. For those who frequently fill up their vehicles, especially larger ones, these discounts can potentially offset a portion of the membership cost.

Walmart Plus Perks

Access to exclusive deals and sales events gives members opportunities to get first access to popular items or snag items at prices not available to non-members. This adds an element of exclusivity and encourages frequent engagement with Walmart's offerings.

Prescription Savings

Walmart Plus members get discounts on select prescriptions. While the selection of eligible prescriptions may be limited, this perk can provide potential healthcare cost savings for those who rely on specific medications.

Cons of Walmart Plus

Order Minimums

The free grocery delivery benefit typically requires a minimum order amount. Smaller orders may incur additional delivery fees or require paying a higher rate for expedited service. This restriction may discourage spontaneous small purchases. Customers might be forced to combine orders to reach the minimum, potentially leading to over-purchasing or less frequent use of the service.

Geographic Limitations

Similar to other delivery services, Walmart Plus likely has service area restrictions. It's essential for potential users to verify availability in their specific location before subscribing, especially those living outside of major urban centers. If Walmart Plus doesn't cover a user's area, the membership offers limited benefits.

Item Availability

Not every item sold in Walmart stores may be available for delivery through Walmart Plus. Those seeking very specific items or niche products should check inventory through the app or website before assuming their full shopping list can be delivered. Limited availability could lead to disappointment or the need to still make a trip to the store, negating some of the convenience.

Membership Fee

The annual or monthly subscription fee for Walmart Plus needs careful consideration. Infrequent Walmart shoppers might find that the savings on deliveries or fuel don't justify the expense of the membership. A cost-benefit analysis comparing typical shopping habits to the membership cost and anticipated benefits is crucial.

Development Considerations of Walmart Plus

Inventory Management & Synchronization
  • Massive Stock: Walmart Plus needs to handle the vast inventory of a retail giant. The system requires real-time synchronization with in-store stock levels across wide geographic areas to ensure order accuracy and avoid frustrating cancellations.
  • Variety & Updates: Walmart's inventory encompasses widely diverse product categories. The system must accommodate fast updates, new item additions, frequent sales, and potential regional variation in stock availability.
Scalable Delivery Network
  • Logistics Management: Matching customer orders with available delivery personnel in real-time requires robust order routing optimization software. This becomes more complex as the service area and user base expand.
  • Delivery Tracking: Customers expect real-time updates on their delivery. GPS tracking and fluid communication systems between drivers, customers, and support teams are essential.
  • Expansion Planning: Walmart Plus is built with growth in mind. Systems for adding new service areas, onboarding new drivers, and handling increasing volume smoothly are crucial for long-term success.
Membership Model Integration
  • Tiered Benefits: If offering different membership levels, clear delineation of benefits and restrictions associated with each tier is necessary. The platform must seamlessly grant and restrict access to features based on subscription type.
  • Billing & Renewal: Secure payment systems linked to subscriptions, automatic renewal processes, and clear communication with users about their membership status are all critical.
Multi-Faceted Perks
  • Fuel Savings Integration: Partnering with gas stations (in Walmart's case, their own brands) requires secure systems to verify membership, apply discounts at the point of sale, and track fuel savings data for the user.
  • Partnership Programs: Implementing prescription savings or exclusive deal programs often involves collaboration with third-party providers, necessitating API integration or data-sharing agreements.

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Kroger Delivery

Apps Similar to Instacart - Kroger Delivery

For frequent Kroger shoppers, Kroger Delivery offers the convenience of online ordering without sacrificing the familiarity of their local store. This Instacart alternative allows customers to virtually browse the same aisles they know, filling their digital cart with groceries, household essentials, and potentially even prescriptions.

This brings the shopping experience directly to the customer's home, streamlining the process for those already loyal to the Kroger brand.

Pros of Kroger Delivery

Store Selection

Kroger's massive network of stores provides customers with a wide selection of products. This selection might include access to local favorites, regional brands, and Kroger's own extensive line of private-label products, offering potential value and unique finds compared to competitors.

Potential Savings

Kroger's established loyalty program and digital coupon system can offer significant savings opportunities for regular shoppers when integrated with their delivery service. This can be particularly enticing for those on a budget or who actively seek out deals and discounts.

Choice in Fulfillment

Kroger's offering of both delivery (to your door) and pickup services caters to different customer preferences and schedules. Those lacking the time or mobility for in-store shopping appreciate delivery, while pickup can appeal to those who want more control over when they receive their order or wish to avoid additional delivery fees.

Prescription Integration

If customers already use Kroger pharmacies, integrating prescription refills and delivery with their grocery orders can streamline their healthcare management. This offers added convenience, especially for those with recurring prescriptions or limited mobility.

Potential for Exclusive Deals

As a large retailer with their own private label brands, Kroger has the potential to offer unique discounts, promotions, or even bundled "meal kit" type deals exclusively through their delivery service. This exclusivity factor can attract new users while rewarding those who opt into the delivery platform.

Cons of Kroger Delivery

Geographic Limitations

Kroger's delivery service is currently not available in all areas where their stores exist. This is a significant drawback for many potential users, especially those who live in rural areas or smaller towns outside of Kroger's core operating regions. To address this, Kroger is actively expanding their delivery service to cover a wider geographic range.

Fees & Minimums

Like many services, Kroger Delivery has delivery fees or order minimums, which can add to the overall cost. These fees can be a deterrent for budget-conscious shoppers, particularly for smaller orders. Kroger is aware of this challenge and is exploring different fee structures and potentially introducing membership options to provide users with more cost-effective choices.

Inventory Syncing

Ensuring real-time inventory data between the app and stores can be challenging, especially across a wide range of stores and product types. Inaccurate inventory information can lead to frustration for users who discover desired items are out of stock upon arrival at the store for pickup or upon delivery.

Kroger is constantly enhancing its inventory management system through regular updates. They're also improving communication to provide clearer information about potential stock limitations, aiming to enhance the user experience.

Competition

Kroger faces stiff competition from both other major grocers offering delivery and from apps focused solely on on-demand service rather than being tied to specific stores. Competitor services offer users the flexibility to choose from a wider selection of stores.

Additionally, users may benefit from potentially lower delivery fees compared to store-specific apps. Kroger Delivery is leveraging its existing customer base and loyalty program benefits. Additionally, they're exploring unique features and value propositions to entice users to choose their service over competitors.

Development Considerations of Kroger Delivery

Robust Inventory Management

A cornerstone of a successful grocery delivery app is a system for maintaining accurate and up-to-date inventory data across a potentially vast network of stores. This system should be capable of synchronizing product availability in real-time to avoid frustrating out-of-stock situations at the time of fulfillment.

This requires an integration between the inventory management systems in individual stores and the app itself. Additionally, the system should be able to account for dynamic inventory fluctuations throughout the day, such as sales or deliveries to stores.

Integration with Existing Systems

For a seamless user experience, Kroger's app should connect seamlessly with their existing loyalty program, digital coupon system, and potentially their pharmacy systems. Users would be able to easily access loyalty points or discounts during the checkout process. Additionally, the app could potentially integrate prescription refills or deliveries with their grocery orders.

Shopper/Picker Network

The efficiency of the delivery or pickup service hinges on a reliable network of personnel. Depending on their model, Kroger Delivery may require a network of delivery drivers to transport groceries from stores to customers' doorsteps.

Alternatively, they might choose to utilize a system of in-store pickers who assemble orders for customers to collect at a designated time. Establishing a system for recruiting, training, and managing these personnel is crucial. It ensures consistent and high-quality service, regardless of the model they choose.

Scalability

The platform needs to be built with the potential for significant growth in mind. This means being able to handle an increasing number of users and potentially expanding into new service areas. The system's architecture should be designed to accommodate additional stores, product offerings, and user traffic without compromising performance or stability.

Apps-Similar-to-Instacart

Build Your App Like Instacart with Narola Infotech

As you've seen, successful apps like Shipt, Kroger, and Walmart Plus have leveraged on a unique idea to attract customers and provide top-notch service. However, it requires more than just a good idea and effective ecommerce app development. Technological considerations like robust inventory systems, shopper management, and seamless user interfaces are crucial.

So if you want to make an app similar to Instacart, you need a tech partner who can easily navigate all the technical challenges. This is where Narola Infotech.

We specialize in tackling these complexities. Our 18+ years of experience and a 350+ strong workforce is adept at handling any kind and scale of project.

Let's discuss how we can bring your grocery delivery vision to life. Contact us for a consultation!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

See the answers to some of our most commonly asked questions below.

An Instacart alternative refers to any other online grocery delivery service that competes with Instacart by offering similar or different features, pricing, and delivery options.

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