Why Instacart is Going to Make this World a Better Place

Yesterday, I was scheduled to host a Friday night dinner for a few close friends. I had planned to shop for groceries at the supermarket just around the corner, but just a couple of hours beforehand, I became rapidly sick. The rain was pouring outside, and I had about as much energy as a rag doll.

Just as I began to pity myself, it dawned on me: wouldn’t it be great to have an app called “Mama” that would find somebody to come and clean your apartment, do your shopping for you and make you soup when you’re sick, and your mom is not around… Then I realized, hey! I’m in San Francisco — this is the city where there’s an app for everything! I pulled my phone out of my pocket, scheduled a house cleaning with Handy , and downloaded Instacart for the first time, to get my grocery order processed and delivered right away.

Why It works so well?

“Yes, but we need the groceries for dinner, and it will not get here in the next couple of hours….” My girlfriend said. “They wouldn’t call it Instacart unless you could order groceries instantly,” I responded. This short dialogue was the real time lesson about the importance of naming your app right and its alignment with the company’s logo; A big orange carrot on a white background which sophistically represents the core essence of the product: simplicity (white background), communication (orange)and freshness (green). The choice of the app’s logo is perfect not only because it combines the three but also because it’s the bunny’s favorite food and a bunny/rabbit represents speed. The carrot also references a popular childhood story in which entire family rallies together to solve a problem.

The groceries were delivered to our home from the requested supermarket chain store in less than three hours — after out of stock products were replaced by similar ones, at my approval. It was an overall amazing experience that gave me full control over the delivery process. It wasn’t just the monitoring of the process that made this experience so outstanding. There was a complete management of expectations, and all the fears that had previously prevented me from ordering my groceries online were eliminated and replaced with a positive experience. The only thing that stopped this experience from being perfect was a total cart price comparison between local supermarkets.

Why is it going to make this world better?

Back when I managed Greenpeace’s EMEA digital strategy, I led the campaign for labeling GMO products. During the campaign’s research phase, I studied the importance of labeling food, the consumer’s influence on nutritional brands and how hard it is to avoid unhealthy products when the price is sometimes three times lower. I’m not only talking about food quality and ingredients, but also about people being aware and responsible for their carbon footprint.

Many initiatives, such as “Buycott” have tried to penetrate the market by enabling people to know more about who benefits from their purchase, namely, the exploitation of resources. Unfortunately, it’s popular only for individuals with a greater level of awareness, which is less than 5% of the population.

(Taken from Dove's website)

Surprised? When I came to the states, I was blown away by the popularity of Dove’s Gentle Exfoliating Body Wash which contains microbeads that contaminate the ocean, not to mention the palm oil used in many of P&G’s products, an ingredient responsible for rainforests destruction.

The reason why most people are not using apps like Buycott is because it’s not integrated within the average consumer’s behavior. I believe that since successful companies like Instacart have great power, they should adapt themselves to the idea that with great power comes great responsibility. Responsibility to help customers, not only compare between shopping cart prices but also to educate shoppers by helping them become smarter and more responsible consumers.

If apps like Instacart are the future of grocery shopping — and I believe they are, it will be much easier for any user to understand how one cart can affect his or hers health and that the kind of world they choose to live in can be shaped by their purchasing power. We’ve got the power! As consumers, of course.