Instacart is reaching well beyond online delivery to help grocers drive their digital transformations with the launch of Instacart Platform.
A modular, enterprise-grade solutions suite, Instacart Platform serves up end-to-end omnichannel functionality by giving grocery retailers access to the technologies behind Instacart’s consumer marketplace, San Francisco-based Instacart said late yesterday. Among the offerings are e-commerce storefronts; online delivery and pickup for stores or warehouses; digital advertising; omnichannel solutions to enhance the customer experience; and data tools for operational, customer and market insights.
Supermarket chains adopting new capabilities from Instacart Platform include Publix Super Markets, Aldi U.S., Schnuck Markets, Good Food Holdings, Plum Market, Key Food and Food Bazaar, among others.
Instacart said the rollout of Instacart Platform marks the next step in the company’s evolution as an e-commerce enabler for retailers. Though initially focused on the grocery market, Instacart has steadily expanded into an array of retail sectors, including segments such as convenience stores, drugstores, dollar stores, office supplies, home goods, home improvement, beauty care, off-price/closeout retail, vitamins and supplements, and pet care, among others. The company, too, has built up a roster of white-label enterprise e-commerce solutions and added technology capabilities, such as through the acquisition of smart shopping cart company Caper and partnership with micro-fulfillment specialist Fabric.
“The grocery industry is undergoing a digital transformation where customers expect a seamless experience across many channels, but behind the scenes it’s taking an incredible amount of work and investment for retailers to deliver these new services,” Instacart CEO Fidji Simo said in a statement. “We’re looking to change that with Instacart Platform. We started as the e-commerce and fulfillment partner of choice for grocers, and we’ve been building on that foundation to broaden and deepen our capabilities in order to help retailers innovate faster than ever on their own properties.”
Plans call for Instacart to offer Instacart Platform first to grocery stores and then to other retailers. The company said some retailers will adopt solutions from the suite à la carte, while others might opt for the full, connected platform for more seamless operation across channels. Components of the platform include the following:
• E-commerce — online storefronts custom-built for grocers, with options for recommendation and merchandising capabilities.
• Fulfillment — Solutions for online delivery and pickup from stores or warehouses, with service options ranging from 15-minute to next-day delivery.
• Digital advertising — Ad solutions to help brands connect and engage with consumers in the online stores.
• In-store — Digital integrations and connected hardware to enhance the brick-and-mortar shopping experience, with technologies ranging from scanless shopping carts to solutions that help manage operations.
• Insights — Data tools to help retailers sharpen operations, provide more connected experiences and make more informed business decisions.
“Instacart Platform continues to fuel our omnichannel strategy, powering delivery and curbside pickup across our markets. Our partnership also enables Publix to serve customers in new ways, solving for additional customer-use cases by enabling meals delivery and virtual convenience,” stated Maria Brous, director of communications at Lakeland, Fla.-based Publix.
Publix is one of the first users of Instacart Platform offerings branded with Instacart’s updated carrot logo. Dubbed Carrot Warehouses, the full-stack solution helps retailers create local fulfillment models for such services as 15-minute delivery. Instacart works with retailers to enable customized, fast delivery solutionss, including building new nano-fulfillment centers (NFCs), devising floor plans, setting up automation services and running ongoing operations. For Publix, Carrot Warehouses will power 15-minute delivery for customers in Atlanta and Miami over the coming months, Instacart said.
“Our new NFCs, built with Instacart Platform, unlock ultrafast delivery in our major metro areas, allowing customers to get what they need in as fast as 15 minutes,” according to Brous. “We are eager to continue to test and iterate on these new concepts as consumer needs continue to evolve.”
Schnucks, Good Food and Plum Market, among other retailers, are now piloting new advertising services using the Carrot Ads solution from Instacart Platform, with plans for broader rollouts later this year.
“Our goal is to provide customers with a seamless shopping experience. Partnering with Instacart and leveraging Instacart Platform technologies has enabled us to build, maintain and grow a robust e-commerce business,” commented Bob Hardester, chief information and supply chain officer at Schnuck Markets. “We’re excited to expand our long-standing partnership by launching Carrot Ads to power advertising across our digital offering amongst other capabilities and give customers even more ways to discover new products and old favorites from Schnucks.”
Carrot Ads is designed to open up new digital revenue source for retailers by bringing Instacart advertising capabilities — including technology, products, engineering and sales talent, and data insights — to retailers’ owned and operated e-commerce sites, Instacart said, adding that the solution brings new monetization capabilities, such as revenue share models.
“Across our five iconic food retailing brands, we’re operating in a dynamic industry where we need to meet consumer expectations, both online and offline,” noted Neil Stern, CEO of Carson, Calif.-based Good Food Holdings, whose supermarket banners include Bristol Farms, Lazy Acres Natural Market, Metropolitan Market, New Seasons Market and New Leaf Community Markets. “Our focus is to leverage the industry’s best technology and partnerships to future-proof our omnichannel retail business. We’re proud to be first-movers with Instacart Platform’s new Carrot Ads feature. We’ll now be able to take advantage of Instacart’s robust ad tech and talent to help us unlock additional digital revenue streams for our e-commerce sites.”
According to Matt Jonna, co-founder and CEO of Farmington Hills, Mich.-based Plum Market, Instacart Platform solutions will enhance the e-commerce experience for customers
“We’re proud to continue to innovate and expand with Instacart to meet the growing and changing needs of our communities. We are committed to offering the best selection to our guests in a seamless online experience,” Jonna stated. “The advertising capability within Instacart Platform enables a better experience for our guests to discover new products and ingredients on our app. Our partnership with Instacart delivers the scale, talent and tech needed to further elevate our offerings with new revenue streams in app and online.”
Matawan, N.J.-based cooperative Key Food Stores, meanwhile, is among the initial adopters of Carrot Insights, an Instacart Platform tool that aims to give retailers “near real-time visibility” into their operations, Instacart said. Dashboards track key performance and operational metrics such as order volumes and out-of-stocks across Instacart Platform and retailers’ Instacart App storefronts. The new data analytics software, now live for all Instacart Platform users, helps retailers better understand geographic sales, inventory stats and customer buying trends, the company noted.
“As a cooperative with a variety of banners making up the Key Food family of supermarkets, it’s incredibly important for us to not only understand how each of our banners are operating, but also how our e-commerce business is performing as a whole,” explained George Knobloch, chief operating officer of Key Food Stores Co-Operative Inc. “We’re excited about the new Carrot Insights and look forward to continuing to utilize it to help us access actionable insights as we continue to grow our e-commerce efforts and make our stores more accessible and convenient for customers.”
Overall, San Francisco-based Instacart partners with more than 750 national, regional and local retailers and provides online shopping, delivery and pickup from more than 70,000 stores in over 5,500 cities. Its services reach more than 85% of U.S. households and 90% of Canadian households. The company fields more than 600,000 personal shoppers, who pick, pack and deliver orders.
“Technology is revolutionizing grocery, and partnering with Instacart allows us to offer a fully digitized Food Bazaar experience,” commented Ed Suh, CEO at Food Bazaar Supermarkets, part of Brooklyn, N.Y.-based Bogopa Service Corp. “Whether it’s offering simple online and mobile shopping tools with timely on-demand delivery, or expanding our EBT/SNAP payment integration to better support our underserved communities, Instacart Platform enables us to expand and deepen online grocery services throughout the tristate area.”