Instacart, Uber, Others Turn to Driver Perks to Combat Capacity Constraints

As driver labor challenges persist, delivery services are challenged to work harder to attract and retain the gig workers that make their model possible, or else they risk alienating their customers with poor service and frustrating capacity constraints.

Read more: Instacart Launches New Gig Worker Rewards Program

Instacart, for its part, has been unveiling a range of new tools for its pickers and couriers, the so-called “shoppers,” fulfilling customers’ orders. Most recently, last week (July 7), the aggregator announced Cart Star, a new rewards program for its shoppers, promising rewards including priority access to “batches” (customers’ orders) and discounted child and senior care to those who qualify.

“Shoppers are an important part of the Instacart community, helping us invite the world to share love through food,” said Tom Maguire, vice president of operations and care at Instacart, in a statement. “They balance empathy and efficiency with communication and problem-solving, and we’re thrilled to unveil our Cart Star program to recognize top shoppers with impactful incentives that help them stand out to their customers, improve their access to earnings, and reach their personal goals.”

Through this system, shoppers that have fulfilled 20 orders qualify for the tiered rewards program, reaching the next level after fulfilling 100 orders and the top level after fulfilling 200, so long as they retain an average rating at or above 4.7 out of five. Members gain access to “tailored rewards and offerings,” both from Instacart and from third-party partners. For instance, members in the highest tier can receive two days per quarter of highly discounted “Backup Care” for relatives or pets provided by

The announcement came just six weeks after Instacart’s last update to its shopper offerings in May, a change to its rating system to make it easier for high- but not top-ranking shoppers to access batches and a system of forgiving bad ratings that come from customers who consistently give harsh reviews.

See also: Instacart Makes Changes to Rating System to Attract, Retain Employees

“It’s incredibly important to us to nurture a community built on best intent — deepening the trust between shoppers, customers, and all of us at Instacart,” said John Adams, vice president of shopper and fulfillment product at Instacart, in a statement at the time.

Instacart is far from the only same-day delivery aggregator looking to woo and hold onto gig drivers with perks and rewards. DoorDash, for instance, offers drivers discounts from a range of third-party partners in addition to cash back on gas. Similarly, Grubhub also has deals to provide drivers discounts on various services from third parties.

Uber, meanwhile, offers drivers access to its Uber Eats Pro rewards program, which includes options to access free tuition for the driver “or an eligible family member” at Arizona State University Online in addition to car maintenance discounts with third-party partners and cash back for gas paid for with the Uber Visa Debit Card. For Uber, the program has the added advantage of incentivizing shifts at the busiest hours, with the company offering more rewards points for deliveries completed during peak times.