Instacart Algorithm: How It Works & 5 Tips To Beat It

From a business perspective, it's super important to see how the Instacart algorithm actually works. We'll look to understand best practices.

Instacart has an online grocery store platform that is growing at an alarming rate! In fact last year, North America expanded from 30 to 99 markets alone. Plus with the current state of the world,  more and more Shoppers are inclined to do some online shopping rather than go in person and put themselves at risk. 

From a business perspective, however, it’s super important to see how the Instacart algorithm actually works. After all, this is the key way that they are able to deliver to their customers in a successful and profitable way.  

Let’s get started by determining how it works, and some ways to measure it yourself. Are you ready to begin?  

What is the Instacart Algorithm? 

First, in order to understand Instacart’s algorithm, it’s best to understand their own business model. Take a look at the following steps to see how Instacart actually works for the modern consumer. 

  1. All you have to do is first download the Instacart app. 
  2. Then you need to choose a store. They’re actually a ton to choose from such as Whole Foods, Costco, Petco, Rite Aid and even more. 
  3. After looking at each door’s inventory you’ll be able to select which items you want to add to your cart. 
  4. Then all you have to do is select a one-hour time window to determine when you want Your groceries delivered. Normally your groceries will be delivered within that one hour time frame. 

After you read through all of these steps to see how Instacart works, you can then measure and predict the best way to master the algorithm. 

Instacart has two major objectives. 

  1. Maximize the chance of finding the right products in a customer’s cart. 
  2. Minimize any time spent getting the groceries. 

 When these two objectives marry each other, the business is considered successful. 

This is How You Master the Algorithm 

Now that we understand how the business model works, take a look at the following ways that you can master the algorithm and predict how your brand can thrive through Instacart. This is a business that has been able to grow exponentially in the last few years, so it’s important to understand the way that it works for the benefit of your own brand.  

Predict a way to Measure the Demand: There are going to be different demand time frames based on the different consumers’ needs. For example, think of holiday time. During the week of Thanksgiving, there will be a ton of orders placed for food. As the holiday nears, so will the demand. Holidays are one of the best times to be able to predict a way to measure the demand for your brand

If you happen to be selling products through the Instacart platform, Then you’ll be able to preempt the quantities you’ll need for stock at the partnered stores.  

Predict Delivery Fulfillment Time: After orders are placed in a 1-hour time frame, it’s super important for Instacart to be able to deliver those groceries at the time that they promised them to the consumer. 

Food delivery fulfillment time will actually go hand-in-hand with the actual demand for groceries. Instead of instacart using a platform such as Google maps, they’ve actually been able to deliver their own map software so that their employees can map out where they need to go in a more efficient manner. This is perfect for those that are achieving consumer happiness within that one-hour time frame. 

Look at the Delivery Routes: Instacart actually uses a method where they create a ton of different routes for their employees to be able to deliver the groceries. if one route doesn’t work then the next one will likely be the answer. 

Instacart actually uses quantile regression to make predictions. Instead of finding the mean time for them to go off of, Instacart considers the variances across all the steps of delivery for the future. This could include things such as weather or road construction.  

Measure What’s Demanded: Look at the initial products and see what’s demanded from the grocery stores. This will not only help the different stores and businesses on Instacart, but it could be the key reason why consumers are driven to log on in the first place. 

Is your brand part of the reason why the demand on instacart is so high? Take a look at your reports and see which products have been sold and which products have been decreasing in sales. 

Start Utilizing A/B Testing: A/B testing has always played a huge role in helpful predictions for products and brands. 

it’s important to utilize this opportunity to see how the different actions in the testing reflect the overall purchases and activity by the consumer. Without A/B testing, sellers are left in the dark  in terms of consumer activity. 

The Bottomline 

Is Instacart one of the platforms that will benefit your business?  If you’re selling food or personal care items, this may be the perfect platform for you. By understanding the different algorithm methods, it will help you and your brand better determine the course of action that needs to be taken or everything to be successful. 

Let us know which methods you will be using in order to determine a better understanding of the Instacart algorithm. We’d love to know your thoughts!


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