Instacart on Thursday announced plans to distribute free health and safety kits to the online grocer’s full-service shoppers as a part of its ongoing commitment to safely serve all members of its shopper community in the wake of COVID-19.
The move followed a threatened walkout of Instacart employees earlier this week because of what workers called inadequate measures by the company to protect and compensate them during the COVID-19 pandemic, although Instacart says the plan was in effect for several weeks.
According to the company, Instacart has been working for several weeks with third-party manufacturers, in consultation with medical and infectious disease experts, to source and develop new health and safety kits for shoppers that include face masks, hand sanitizer and thermometers. Additionally, on Thursday the company announced the launch of its new COVID-19 Resource Center to share details with all members of the Instacart community about how the company is responding to the evolving COVID-19 crisis.
“We're singularly focused on the health and safety of our shopper community. Our teams have been working around the clock over the last few weeks to proactively secure personal protective equipment like hand sanitizer and face masks, without taking away valuable resources from healthcare workers given inventory delays and global supply scarcity," said Nilam Ganenthiran, president of Instacart.
He added, “We want to provide customers with an essential service they can rely on to get their groceries and household goods, while also offering safe and flexible earnings opportunities to Instacart personal shoppers. As COVID-19 evolves, today's health and safety solutions will be tomorrow’s table stakes, and our teams are working quickly to introduce new services and features to ensure our shopper community is supported as this situation unfolds.”
The health and safety kits will be available to Instacart full-service shoppers to order at no cost beginning next week, via a website built for the shopper community. Shoppers will be able to request a kit by registering with their Instacart shopper email address. For in-store shoppers, Instacart has also sourced and will be directly distributing face masks at retail locations where the company has in-store operations.
Instacart's health and safety kits include a washable and reusable cloth face mask to use while shopping that do not impact the healthcare and medical community's supply; an ethyl alcohol-based hand sanitizer that exceeds the CDC's guidance; and a reusable forehead thermometer that provides a fast and accurate temperature check in approximately 15 seconds.
“Over the last month, Instacart has been working closely with the CDC, state and local health officials, and a panel of medical and academic experts to ensure we’re providing shoppers with all of the recommended health and safety resources to support them while they shop,” said Dilshika Wijesekera, Instacart's director of food safety and regulatory compliance.”
Instacart has also introduced a number of health guidelines and safety resources to further support Instacart shoppers, including: health and safety guidelines in partnership with Instacart’s advisory panel of medical and academic experts; sick pay for in-store shoppers; COVID-19 bonuses for in-store shoppers; increased batch promotions for full-service shoppers; extended pay for part-time employees and any shopper affected by COVID-19; and implementing pre-opening and post-closing hours access for Instacart shoppers in partnership with retailers to promote effective social distancing at some of the busiest stores.
Additionally, the company has launched several new product features to support shoppers in the wake of COVID-19, which include "Leave at My Door" delivery; contactless alcohol delivery; ratings forgiveness; automatically canceling out-of-stock orders; mobile checkout available everywhere; and a new “Customer Default Tip” feature.
The customer tip default setting, which has been tested over the past few months, already has had a “significant, positive impact” on shopper earnings, noted Instacart. The company said 97% of all orders over the last month have included a tip, and shoppers on average saw a 30% earnings gain from customer tips.
Instacart also launched a COVID-19 Resource Center where the company can continuously share details with all members of its community about how Instacart is responding to the evolving COVID-19 crisis. The site includes information about new shopper guidelines, resources and features; product and support information for customers; details on the health and safety advisory panel Instacart is consulting on COVID-19; and more.
Instacart last week announced plans to hire another 300,000 full-service shoppers over the next three months, noting that almost 50,000 new shoppers were added in the last week alone. Instacart also launched a 30-day extension, through May 8, of its previously announced benefit of 14 days of pay for hourly employees and full-service shoppers diagnosed with coronavirus or put in isolation or quarantine by a health professional due to the virus. The company, too, introduced a bonus payment — ranging from $25 to $200, depending on hours worked from March 15 to April 15 — for in-store shoppers, shift leads and site managers.
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