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By Terri Miller
Contributing Writer 

Gig Economy Offers Meaningful Work, Good Pay, Flexibility

Here's What It's Like to be an Instacart Shopper

 

Last updated 5/6/2020 at 11:28am

Gig economy: A labor market characterized by the prevalence of short term contracts or freelance work as opposed to a permanent job.

Gig work is certainly not new. Musicians have been working gigs forever as well as photographers, etc. But with the Internet, gig work is everywhere. With Apps such as Instacart and websites, a simple Google search brings up a plethora of opportunity for those who don't mind being scheduled at the last minute.

A Quick Google searched generated these gig economy job sites:

- Guru

- Fiverr – micro job market

- iFreelance

- People per Hour

- UpWork – the mac daddy of gig sites

- Freelancers.net

- Linkedin Profinder

- CloudPeeps

With pensions going away and many millennials not staying in "jobs or careers" as long as their parents and grandparents did, this type of work can fill in the income gaps between traditional jobs. No need for an advanced education to be able to pick up meaningful work with good pay depending upon where you live and what gig you choose.

For the purpose of this article, I signed up for a service called Instacart, where you can either order groceries or other items online to be delivered to you by an Instacart "shopper" within a certain amount of time or sign up to be an Instacart Shopper/Driver.

I found it easy to download the App and signed up in just a few minutes on my iPhone. They ran a background check on me, signed me up with ApplePay on my phone and within a day or so, I had my first "Batch."

I was put through some online training courses and had to take tests to complete them. I can go on to Carrot Academy and learn even more about how to be a 5-Star shopper with courses such as advanced food safety, how to make a good substitution for an item as well as tips and trick to completing my order faster.

I chose to order refrigerated bags from a third party provider in order to be able to keep my orders at the desired temperature; either cold or hot. This way, Instacart knows I am serious about keeping the food safe for the clients during the shop and delivery. I have to take pictures of the bags and sanitation wipes to send to the company. (HINT) In hindsight, I could have bought bags for half the price from any store but I wanted to be sure what I had was going to pass the test.

I was fortunate that my sister started with Instacart a few months earlier so she is a seasoned shopper. She said she started shopping to cover some expenses but she really loves being able to help people and that is what keeps her Instacart shopping. She went with me on my first shop to show me the ropes. Not only was that fun, it really helped me learn quickly what to do and I could ask her questions as I went along.

Orders come in as Batches. They can be one customer or bundled into two orders. Those are a little more complicated because you have to keep them separated and deliver to two different addresses.

While shopping, we have the App open and it shows us items. If the item is not there, we can make suggestions or refund the item. There is a two-way chat as well where the client can request other items or we can confirm changes, etc.

Clients pay via credit card and shoppers are given an Instacart credit card that is preloaded for checkout. Once the items are rung up, the shopper heads to the car and hits the navigation. The clients can see where the shopper is at all times during the shop so often, they are eagerly awaiting my arrival. The client can leave detailed instructions about where to leave the items.

I joined the gig economy before there was a name for it. I was a mystery shopper for five years and that was a lot of fun. This is much the same, but there is no mystery. While I am shopping for Instacart as research for this article, it is also for necessity. You see, my store closed due to the pandemic and my part time job was forced to close also.

Being a Multiple-preneur but having no income and frustrated with unemployment, my Gigger personality had to come out again. I like being able to work my own hours, be out and about while helping others. I saw a sign in the window of a client today. It was handmade and said "Thank you Delivery Drivers, True Heroes!!"

I never thought of myself as a hero for delivery groceries but there was another, more official sign on the door that indicated the person living there has a compromised immune system. I am fortunate to be able to be out and about. My sister made me pretty masks to wear and I have gloves and hand sanitizer.

Instacart shoppers look like regular people. While shopping on any given morning there will be no less that 10 shoppers in any given store. I counted 20 at one time Tuesday morning.

Since we are timed throughout our entire shop, there is no standing around talking; we are serious. There are men, women, couples, mommies with kids (yes, one lady shops with three kids in tow). People are as young as 18 and as old as, well, old. They may be shopping for Instacart or another company.

When I am able to ask them, usually while waiting for a custom deli order or at the seafood counter, the ladies said they really like it. One lady told me her husband lost his job and she is able to make up part of his income by shopping. Another lady told me she worked for Publix for 21 years in the deli but she has been shopping for Instacart for over a year. She said she likes what she is doing now much better. One young man. I asked if he liked doing this and he just looked at me with his mask on and said, 'Uh, NO,' and went back to shopping. We ladies with more birthdays have been doing this for years, but now we are getting paid!!

Next, to become an Instacart client, I'll let you know how that goes in my next article.

Until then, you can contact me via email; [email protected] or follow me on Instagram Happy Human Initiative and Facebook Happy Human Initiative.

 

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