Instacart Meals, a new service by the grocery delivery app, will provide a Swiss-army-knife solution for customers to order and pick up their food in whatever manner they choose, reports said Thursday (Jan. 23).
The new service will be tested with Publix Supermarkets. Users will be able to order prepared food from the supermarket chain's "digital deli counter," and then choose to pick it up at the store or have it delivered to them.
With the "build your own" functionality, Instacart Meals will allow customers to have their meal built and delivered as they want it, and it will be integrated with Publix's order management system to optimize the timing of food prep and pickup.
The service will be piloted initially in Orlando, Florida, and focus on Publix's made-to-order sub sandwiches. From there, the new service will be rolled out at other Florida Publix locations, and after that, at the rest of the stores in the Southwestern chain's repertoire.
The San Francisco-based Instacart said Instacart Meals would help supermarkets like Publix better compete against restaurants, as it will satisfy customers' need for convenient food prepared for a mobile-savvy, on-the-move lifestyle.
Instacart President Nilam Ganenthiran said the pricing would be better, too, at "less than half" the cost of the average fast-casual food order. He said the numbers were on their side — with made-to-order food counters making up 15 percent of grocery chains' sales, and having such a high rate of sales, and it only made sense to lean into the service.
Publix, which is based in Lakeland, Florida, and has over 1,200 stores in Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia, has partnered with Instacart before, having worked with the app since 2016. They intend to bring Instacart to all stores by this year.
In other Instacart news, the app plans to expand its Instacart Pickup services to all 50 states this year. The expansion followed a year of doubling its grocery partners and tripled the number of states in which it operates. The service recently added a host of new features, including an "on the way" alert for speedier curbside pickup and a "smart storefront" feature that allows customers to see delivery and pickup options from a single screen.