- Instacart is a delivery company that pairs customers with personal shoppers who deliver groceries to their homes.
- In 2016, it signed a five-year contract with Whole Foods to become its exclusive delivery partner. In 2017, Whole Foods was acquired by Amazon.
- Instacart now goes head-to-head with Amazon’s own Whole Foods delivery services, including Amazon Prime Now.
- We put the two competitors to the test.
Up until last year, there was only one way to have Whole Foods produce delivered to your door: via Instacart, a delivery company that pairs customers with personal shoppers who pick groceries in the store and deliver them directly to people’s homes.
This changed in June 2017, when Amazon announced that it would be buying Whole Foods for $13.7 billion. The announcement sent shockwaves through the market and put Instacart, which had exclusive rights to Whole Foods’ delivery, in a sticky situation.
In a recent interview at Recode’s Code Commerce conference, Instacart CEO Apoorva Mehta explained how Whole Foods’ CEO, John Mackey, called to personally inform him about the deal when it happened.
“It was probably a one-minute call,” Mehta told Recode journalist Jason del Rey. “He wanted me to be one of the first people to know.”
In the months that followed, Instacart signed deals with several major US retailers including Sam’s Club, Costco, CVS, Albertsons, and Kroger, but industry experts were left wondering what would happen to the five-year contract that it had signed with Whole Foods in early 2016 and was only a year and a half in to.
“I don’t think anyone expected Amazon to buy Whole Foods, and the contract was obviously written with that expectation,” Mehta said.
Whole Foods was Instacart’s first national delivery partnership. Instacart continues to deliver for Whole Foods along with Amazon’s own delivery services, but experts say it likely won’t be long before it’s muscled out.
I decided to put Amazon Prime Now and Instacart to the test to see how they compare. Find out what happened below:
I started by ordering from Instacart’s website. As this was the first time I used the service, I was asked to enter my zip code and set up an account.
It’s easy to register, and you can log in directly using a Google account without having to register any details, which is definitely a bonus.
Once I logged in, Instacart went straight to selling me a membership.
Instacart Express works in a similar way to an Amazon Prime membership. You pay $149 a year and are able to get free shipping when you spend over $35. However, given that the selection on Instacart is limited to groceries, pet supplies, and drug stores, you are getting far less for your money than with an Amazon Prime membership.
Prime costs $119 a year and includes free shipping of almost anything you can think of on Amazon.com as well as access to a ton of perks such as Prime Video and Prime Music.
When it comes to shopping for groceries alone, Instacart is the leading player. On here, you can shop from 300 different chains.
The first step is to select the store you want to shop from. I chose Whole Foods.
The site is easy to use. You can shop by department or search for a specific product.
You can filter by brand to find items more easily. This is especially useful if you want to shop Whole Foods 365, the grocer’s budget label.
When I clicked on each product, there was very limited information available aside from a photo that was hard to see. This was a major downside.
In small writing on the packaging it says “ready to eat,” but when the package arrived, I realized it was frozen and would need to be defrosted before cooking.
You don’t need to click through to lots of other pages to find out when these items can be delivered. A tab on the right-hand side shows you exactly how soon you can receive the order.
When you click on the cart, it clearly states how much more you’d need to buy to be eligible for cheaper or free delivery depending on whether you are an Express member or not.
For orders under $35, there is a hefty delivery charge costing anywhere between $11.99 and $15.99. I opted for delivery within the hour to test its speedy service, and this cost $13.99.
A 5% tip is suggested at checkout, with a minimum suggestion of $2 per individual store delivery. The tips are optional, and according to Instacart, you can adjust them up to three days after the order is delivered. The tips go directly to the shopper.
Customers also pay a 5% service fee on each order, which goes directly to Instacart. This becomes pretty pricey on larger orders.
It’s a slick process, and within five minutes I had placed the order.
At the end, it gave me one last push to add more items to my basket.
Once I completed the order on the website, I received a text message with a link to the app that allowed me to track the order.
It’s easy to message the shopper on the app and select alternatives if anything is out of stock.
Within 30 minutes the package had arrived on my doorstep. I hadn’t even had enough time to make it back home from work.
Next, I tested out Amazon’s Prime Now service.
Prime Now offers free, two-hour delivery of Whole Foods groceries as well as a mix of items from Amazon.com to members of its paid Prime program in about 30 metro areas across the United States — if they spend over $35.
The main page is very similar to Amazon proper, so it instantly felt familiar. However, it’s not as user-friendly as Instacart.
At the top of the page, you can search different departments, but the groceries are jumbled in with other Amazon products, which was confusing.
At the bottom of the main page you will find product categories that are easier to search. I clicked through to seafood and found a selection of fresh and frozen produce.
The assortment seemed to be identical to what was on Instacart, and the prices were the same.
It’s not immediately obvious, but on the right-hand side, there is a button that gives you the option to filter by brand. That way you can find the budget Whole Foods 365 items.
Instacart definitely made this process easier.
One big advantage is that on most of the items I selected, I was able to see the nutritional information of the product. This wasn’t the case on Instacart.
During the ordering process, Amazon alerts you that if a product is out of stock, it will contact you to let you know. If it doesn’t hear back from you, it’ll leave the item out of the order.
The options for delivery weren’t as speedy as Instacart’s. At first glance, I thought there was a within-the-hour delivery option, but this wasn’t the case. I ordered around 6:30 p.m., and the soonest it could arrive was between 8 p.m. and 9 p.m.; this cost $9.99.
Amazon automatically added a tip, which you can amend if you like.
There was no extra service fee, however, which is an advantage over Instacart if you are doing a large order.
Once I placed the order, I received several text messages and requests to download the app so I could track my order.
Both Amazon and Instacart had a similar approach to keeping you updated about the order.
My order went through at 6:24 p.m. and arrived by 8:33 p.m.
If your groceries are going to be out on your doorstep for a while, you might appreciate that the Prime Now delivery bag is actually closed.
It was a bit off-putting to find an open Whole Foods bag with the Instacart delivery in it, as it felt like anyone could help themselves pretty easily.
Verdict: Instacart was the winner overall. The website was easy to use, and the options for delivery were considerably quicker. The main benefit is that you don’t need to have a membership to use the service.
There is one big downside to Instacart, however. If you’re ordering on a frequent basis, the service and delivery fees do add up if you aren’t an Express member, and it’s hard to justify a $149 annual fee when Amazon Prime is not only cheaper but grants you access to more perks.
Public officers above 58 years and with pre-existing conditions told to work from home: The Standard
Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua. [File, Standard]
In a document from Head of Public Service, Joseph Kinyua new measure have been outlined to curb the bulging spread of covid-19. Public officers with underlying health conditions and those who are over 58 years -a group that experts have classified as most vulnerable to the virus will be required to execute their duties from home.
However, the new rule excluded personnel in the security sector and other critical and essential services.
“All State and public officers with pre-existing medical conditions and/or aged 58 years and above serving in CSG5 (job group ‘S’) and below or their equivalents should forthwith work from home,” read the document,” read the document.
To ensure that those working from home deliver, the Public Service directs that there be clear assignments and targets tasked for the period designated and a clear reporting line to monitor and review work done.
SEE ALSO: Thinking inside the cardboard box for post-lockdown work stations
Others measures outlined in the document include the provision of personal protective equipment to staff, provision of sanitizers and access to washing facilities fitted with soap and water, temperature checks for all staff and clients entering public offices regular fumigation of office premises and vehicles and minimizing of visitors except by prior appointments.
Officers who contract the virus and come back to work after quarantine or isolation period will be required to follow specific directives such as obtaining clearance from the isolation facility certified by the designated persons indicating that the public officer is free and safe from Covid-19. The officer will also be required to stay away from duty station for a period of seven days after the date of medical certification.
“The period a public officer spends in quarantine or isolation due to Covid-19, shall be treated as sick leave and shall be subject to the Provisions of the Human Resource Policy and procedures Manual for the Public Service(May,2016),” read the document.
The service has also made discrimination and stigmatization an offence and has guaranteed those affected with the virus to receive adequate access to mental health and psychosocial supported offered by the government.
The new directives targeting the Public Services come at a time when Kenyans have increasingly shown lack of strict observance of the issued guidelines even as the number of positive Covid-19 cases skyrocket to 13,771 and leaving 238 dead as of today.
SEE ALSO: Working from home could be blessing in disguise for persons with disabilities
Principal Secretaries/ Accounting Officers will be personally responsible for effective enforcement and compliance of the current guidelines and any future directives issued to mitigate the spread of Covid-19.
Uhuru convenes summit to review rising Covid-19 cases: The Standard
President Uhuru Kenyatta (pictured) will on Friday, July 24, meet governors following the ballooning Covid-19 infections in recent days.
The session will among other things review the efficacy of the containment measures in place and review the impact of the phased easing of the restrictions, State House said in a statement.
This story is being updated.
SEE ALSO: Sakaja resigns from Covid-19 Senate committee, in court tomorrow
Drastic life changes affecting mental health
Kenya has been ranked 6th among African countries with the highest cases of depression, this has triggered anxiety by the World Health Organization (WHO), with 1.9 million people suffering from a form of mental conditions such as depression, substance abuse.
Globally, one in four people is affected by mental or neurological disorders at some point in their lives, this is according to the WHO.
Currently, around 450 million people suffer from such conditions, placing mental disorders among the leading causes of ill-health and disability worldwide.
The pandemic has also been known to cause significant distress, mostly affecting the state of one’s mental well-being.
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With the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic attributed to the novel Coronavirus disease, millions have been affected globally with over 14 million infections and half a million deaths as to date. This has brought about uncertainty coupled with difficult situations, including job loss and the risk of contracting the deadly virus.
In Kenya the first Coronavirus case was reported in Nairobi by the Ministry of Health on the 12th March 2020. It was not until the government put in place precautionary measures including a curfew and lockdown (the latter having being lifted) due to an increase in the number of infections that people began feeling its effect both economically and socially.
A study by Dr. Habil Otanga, a Lecturer at the University of Nairobi, Department of Psychology says that such measures can in turn lead to surge in mental related illnesses including depression, feelings of confusion, anger and fear, and even substance abuse. It also brings with it a sense of boredom, loneliness, anger, isolation and frustration. In the post-quarantine/isolation period, loss of employment due to the depressed economy and the stigma around the disease are also likely to lead to mental health problems.
The Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) states that at least 300,000 Kenyans have lost their jobs due to the Coronavirus pandemic between the period of January and March this year.
KNBC noted that the number of employed Kenyans plunged to 17.8 million as of March from 18.1 million people as compared to last year in December. The Report states that the unemployment rate in Kenya stands at 13.7 per cent as of March this year while it stood 12.4 per cent in December 2019.
Mama T (not her real name) is among millions of Kenyans who have been affected by containment measures put in place to curb the spread of the virus, either by losing their source of income or having to work under tough guidelines put in place by the MOH.
As young mother and an event organizer, she has found it hard to explain to her children why they cannot go to school or socialize freely with their peers as before.
“Sometimes it gets difficult as they do not understand what is happening due to their age, this at times becomes hard on me as they often think I am punishing them,”
Her contract was put on hold as no event or public gatherings can take place due to the pandemic. This has brought other challenges along with it, as she has to find means of fending for her family expenditures that including rent and food.
“I often wake up in the middle of the night with worries about my next move as the pandemic does not exhibit any signs of easing up,” she says. She adds that she has been forced to sort for manual jobs to keep her family afloat.
Ms. Mary Wahome, a Counseling Psychologist and Programs Director at ‘The Reason to Hope,’ in Karen, Nairobi says that such kind of drastic life changes have an adverse effect on one’s mental status including their family members and if not addressed early can lead to depression among other issues.
“We have had cases of people indulging in substance abuse to deal with the uncertainty and stress brought about by the pandemic, this in turn leads to dependence and also domestic abuse,”
Sam Njoroge , a waiter at a local hotel in Kiambu, has found himself indulging in substance abuse due to challenges he is facing after the hotel he was working in was closed down as it has not yet met the standards required by the MOH to open.
“My day starts at 6am where I go to a local pub, here I can get a drink for as little as Sh30, It makes me suppress the frustration I feel.” he says.
Sam is among the many who have found themselves in the same predicament and resulted to substance abuse finding ways to beat strict measures put in place by the government on the sale of alcohol so as to cope.
Mary says, situations like Sam’s are dangerous and if not addressed early can lead to serious complications, including addiction and dependency, violent behavior and also early death due to health complications.
She has, however, lauded the government for encouraging mental wellness and also launching the Psychological First Aid (PFA) guide in the wake of the virus putting emphasis on the three action principal of look, listen and link. “When we follow this it will be easy to identify an individual in distress and also offer assistance”.
Mary has urged anyone feeling the weight of the virus taking a toll on them not to hesitate but look for someone to talk to.
“You should not only seek help from a specialist but also talk to a friend, let them know what you are undergoing and how you feel, this will help ease their emotional stress and also find ways of dealing with the situation they are facing,” She added
Mary continued to stress on the need to perform frequent body exercises as a form of stress relief, reading and also taking advantage of this unfortunate COVID-19 period to engage in hobbies and talent development.
“Let people take this as an opportunity to kip fit, get in touch with one’s inner self and also engage in reading that would help expand their knowledge.