Instacart’s on-demand grocery service brings home the bacon for thousands of happy customers


20 states

Instacart delivers in

Planet with map pin

375 cities

served by Instacart


1 hour


How does an on-demand delivery services start-up accomplish what others before them could not? Instacart disrupted the grocery-delivery market with a lean strategy that aligns sellers, drivers and consumers. To help them optimize the shopper experience for their time-crunched customers, Instacart integrated Twilio masked number and notification technologies into their platform.

Putting the customer experience first

Tapping into their customer’s appetite for convenience and quality, Instacart delivers groceries to thousands of customers in 375 cities across the U.S. Leveraging a lean business model, they saved millions in start-up costs with virtually no overhead and by using the sharing economy model for its labor force. In fact, all Instacart needs to operate is an integrated technology platform and a fleet of well-trained personal shoppers with smartphones and cars.

When your business is based on the promise of fresh groceries delivered within an hour, seamless communications with your team and high levels of trust with your customers are mission-critical imperatives. Instacart integrated the Twilio’s SMS and notifications technologies to help them handle their end-to-end customer service, alert and inform shoppers, and manage their growing remote workforce.

Attention shoppers: SMS makes it happen

Instacart relies on Twilio’s SMS notifications to manage their order confirmations, delivery ETA’s, customer satisfaction surveys, and employee shift alerts. Most critical to the business is the speed in which alerts reach their personal shoppers, so they can begin to process the order and deliver on their hour-or-less promise.

“When you’re talking about deliveries in one hour or less, there are a series of events that have to happen. Often there will be an order coming in just when we’ve finished a previous order–so it could be only one or two minutes after you place your order that we’re picking things off the shelf,” said Mullen. “That wouldn’t be possible without Twilio because we send a text message to our shoppers which notify them when they have to start. And we have optimized that time between when they get that message and when they actually start–we know how long it takes, in seconds, for an in-store shopper to acknowledge an order and pick the first item. These are critical metrics to us; efficiency equals economic viability in our business.”

“I don’t think we could have started Instacart without Twilio. When we started out, dispatching orders to shoppers was a key problem, and Twilio was an enabling technology for us.”

Max Mullen Co-Founder

Quality can be very a challenge when relying on a virtual workforce, and the way Instacart solves this is by letting shoppers provide feedback through the Twilio system as soon as possible. “When you rate an order on Instacart, the shopper gets the feedback,” said Mullen. “ Feedback is instructive to our shoppers so they get better at it, and over time quality builds into our system.”

Easy as pie customer service and operational excellence

Instacart’s Twilio-powered customer service experience allows their customers to connect with the company whenever and however they choose—be it voice, email, SMS, or chat. “You can chat with your shopper via the app, via the website, over SMS, and if you respond to a notification it jumps you into chat,” said Max Mullen, co-founder of Instacart.

For maximum customer and shopper privacy, communications, deliveries, and pickup details are sent using Twilio-obscured phone numbers. Twilio also enables Instacart’s customer service team to get instant insights into their customer’s orders. “When a customer places a call into customer service, we can see the message exchange so we can provide better service,” said Mullen. “And because of Twilio, when you call we can pull up your information automatically.”

>> To learn more, check out Instacart’s latest Twilio Talk here.

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