Instacart ?? 101: How to Determine if the Batch is Worth Accepting

What’s up all you Instacart shoppers out
there? Chad The Gig Economist here with another bonus entry into my Instacart Beginner’s
Guide series. In one of the early entries in this series I showed you how to read the
batch offer screen, but I didn’t tell you how to tell if the batch was worth accepting
or not. So that’s what we’re going to do this time. Whether you’re working Instacart part-time
or full-time, consider both your preferred and minimum total earnings in a week. Now
take those numbers and divide them by the number of hours you’re scheduled (or willing
to work if you’re in an on-demand zone). The answers will result in your wage range
with the higher number being your preferred wage and the lower number being your personal
minimum wage. Let me give you an example. Say you’re doing
Instacart part-time and your goal is to make $200 a week and you’re willing to work 9
hours on the weekend and one weeknight shift of 4 hours. If we divide $200 by 13 hours
that comes out to just over $15 an hour which is a fairly realistic goal. If you’re willing
to settle for $150 a week by working the same number of hours, your minimum hourly wage
is $11.53. Does this mean you should automatically accept
every batch paying $11.53 or higher and reject anything paying less? Basically yes, but there
are a few things you need to consider. First of all, when you complete a batch there’s
no guarantee you will have another one lined up right away. Any downtime between batches
means the next job will have to pay more to make up for the time you lost between gigs.
For example, let’s say you accept a $15 batch and complete it in an hour. But then
30 minutes goes by with no work to do. If you’re just sitting around you’re not
making any money. In order to make up for that down time, the next batch would have
to pay $22.50 so that you’re still averaging $15 an hour. And this goes on for the entire
week. Second of all, most batches take about an
hour to complete, but small batches can sometimes be knocked out in 20 minutes or less, while
really large batches can take 70, 80 or 90 plus minutes. The number of items as well
as the total mileage involved all factor into the time. But how can you accurately estimate
those variables? I’ll show you how in the next few sections. If you know what your average shopping speed
is, you can use that to estimate the bulk of the labor with simple math. Look at the
item count then multiply that by your average item time. If you don’t know your exact
speed, err on the side of caution and just say a minute per item which is about average
for new shoppers. Seasoned shoppers like me can slash their time down to about 30 seconds
an item. Additionally, it takes about 5 to 7 minutes
to complete the checkout process. Walking back to the car and loading it up takes another
5 to 7 minutes. So to estimate the total shopping time, multiply your shopping speed by the
number of items and add 5 to 10 minutes to account for the complete and total shopping
time. In the case of delivery only orders, the time
you’ll spend at the store is much shorter. If it’s only a few bags, you can probably
scan them and be out the door in a matter of minutes. But if it’s a large double or
triple batch, it can sometimes take 10 to 20 minutes to scan the bags, put them in insulated
bags, and then load up your car. As I said, there are a few variables to consider
when looking over a batch offer. Made-to-order items play a huge role in determining a batch’s
worth. Having to order deli or prepared foods can increase your shopping time by 5 to 10
minutes or 20-something minutes in a worse-case scenario. If there’s a long line and only
one person working the counter that can totally screw you. This is why you should always scroll
through the preview pictures and look for those kind of items before you accept a batch.
Another X factor to consider is the store itself. How busy is it on average? How busy
is it right now? How bad is the traffic? How long are the lines usually? How competent
is the staff? Is there a better store in the vicinity? If so, it might actually be worth
it to go there if you know that store will be quicker and easier. Mileage is an important factor to consider
when analyzing the batch offer screen. Instacart indicates the mileage from the store to the
customer; but not the distance from where you are to the store. Sometimes you’ll be
offered a batch that seems worthwhile, but then you realize it’s for a store 10 or
15 miles away. You can shop at a closer store if it’s partnered and save yourself some
time, but bear in mind Instacart will probably not adjust the mileage compensation.
Another thing to consider is the customer’s location. The store might be close, but the
customer might be out in the middle of nowhere. Once you complete the delivery, how far and
for how long will you have to deadhead back to civilization?
Speaking of dead miles, Instacart has a terrible habit of sending delivery-only orders to stores
20 or 30 miles away from the customer when there are literally dozens of stores closer
to them. So you might see a tempting high-paying batch for a nearby store only to realize it’s
taking you 10 cities away. If the customer is in an area with other Instacart stores
nearby, you might be able to grab another batch out there when you’re done. But you’re
going to have to make your way home eventually. If it’s the middle of the day, you could
only accept orders heading in your general direction; but if it’s later in the evening
you might have to eat all those miles going home. A lot of new shoppers naively take low item,
low mileage batches thinking they can knock out two of three of them in an hour. After
all, if you complete three $7 batches or two $9 batches in an hour that’s the equivalent
of making $21 or $18 an hour. If you could do that all day you’d be making pretty good
money, right? No, it doesn’t work like that. You can’t
approach Instacart as you would DoorDash, Uber Eats, or GrubHub. Low item, low mileage
batches are rare, and being offered many of them in a row (let alone an entire shift)
is completely unrealistic. Not even delivery-only batches are comparable because the mileage
tends to be way higher than it is with hot food delivery.
Worst of all, when you take lowball batches you teach the algorithm you’re willing to
work for peanuts. I’ll explain what this means later in the video. The most obvious warning sign of a bad batch
is “+ no tip.” I cannot stress this enough: do not accept batches without an upfront tip!
You can do the best job in world, but that won’t change the fact that some customers
absolutely refuse to tip. Believe me, I’ve done over 1,200 batches this year and whenever
a batch said “+ no tip” it almost always stayed that way. I’d say maybe 1 in 50 customers
who didn’t tip upfront tipped at the door or after delivery. So you can hope and pray
that will happen to you, but the odds are not on your side. You’ve probably heard that what you see
on Facebook is determined by an algorithm that learns your habits and purposely tries
to show you what it thinks you want to see. Well, the algorithm Instacart uses to assign
batches works on essentially the same concept of Machine Learning. For every batch that
you accept, you “teach” the algorithm what you consider to be an acceptable payment
for the time, mileage and physical labor. So if you accept a lot of batches paying $9,
Instacart will think that’s the kind of batches you prefer and you’ll be offered
more and more batches like that. When enough people do this en masse, it brings wages down
across the board. I’ll do an entire video explaining this another time, but for now
just realize that when it comes to your Instacart payments – whatever you allow is what will
continue. So just to recap, when it comes to determining
if a batch is worth it or not: 1. Calculate your preferred and minimum earnings
and wages. 2. Look over each batch carefully and try
to predict how long it will take to complete. 3. Consider the subtle nuances and various
X factors associated with the batch. 4. Don’t equate Instacart labor to simple
food delivery labor. 5. Avoid red flags.
6. Be careful what you teach the algorithm Hopefully this video explained the basics
of what goes into accepting or rejecting a batch. It really doesn’t take too long before
you’ll be able to look at a batch offer and make a quick decision. If you disagree
with any of my points or you think I left something out, let me know in the comments
section. As always, I encourage you to check out my
library of Instacart and gig economy videos. If you’re new here, why not subscribe so
you don’t miss any of my future installments. Thanks for watching and I will see you next
time. Bye.

8 thoughts on “Instacart ?? 101: How to Determine if the Batch is Worth Accepting

  1. Do you have any tips to be able to stay in a smaller area in the zone? Some areas in my zone are complete trash…..

  2. Great video! Definitely took the words right out of my mouth factoring in unpaid mileage, the time it takes to do a batch or to get to the store, and customer tips. From my experience, I never take any batches with “no tip” anymore! I always seem to have bad experiences with customers [MAJOR RED FLAG.] A lot of people don’t carry cash too, also consider a lot of these customers request you to leave their groceries at the door. Yeah $20+ may seem worth it, but where I live, those $20+ batches show up mostly downtown in mid traffic, or HEAVY pay items that make you deliver to apartments. I did that a couple times and it took waaaay longer than taking a $15 batch down the street at like Aldis or something. I couldn’t take it anymore and headed up north and I was extremely lucky to get a batch to shop at Sprouts (which I hate) but she tipped $80+! I was skeptical at first because I never rely on tips because they have 3 days to change their mind but it was extremely slow, I had to make up for the hours lost and Instacart shitty offers. Luckily, she didn’t change her tip at all, she ended up increasing it being thankful she spent time with her daughter. Keep in mind, the day before I had to work 6 batches to equal that one pay I made for that day. And all because I was selective with my choices. If I took that shitty batch of $13 + no tip right before it, I would of missed out on that offer. smh Instacart! It seems to save me way more gas, time, and I chill at home now and able to eat lunch with my daughter instead of in my car. If I relied on this full-time, no way I could do it with the 1,500+ new shoppers in our area. Go ahead and work for pennies kiddos! No thanks! I'm trying to work smarter, not harder.

  3. So hard on demand if you consider the batch it’s gone. And where I’m at I can’t get the minimum hours for early access so come Wednesday there are no hours at all in my area.

  4. So does it matter on denying orders when low pay and no tip when on shift? I was accepting 100% because I thought it was better to have the 100% acceptance rate?

  5. Whatever dude. When a batch comes up on my screen, I've got about 3 seconds before someone else takes it. Thinking about it is out of the question unless you want to be idle all day.

  6. I have a question for you Chad, and this may not be something you know.

    We all know the timer for the batch is irrelevant, however is the timer based my personal shopping time or their preferred average?

    I usually finish a batch significantly quicker, but on occasion I know I’m shopping the same store the same way with no issues and the timer seems lower.

    Again, I know it means nothing, but for all we know they can decide to base pay on any metric they have.

  7. If they ever being the quality bonus back, lemme know. Until then ALL of the batches can suck something. That "free" $3 was greatness

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