A retail delivery service that uses personal shoppers to hand-pick groceries and other items is now available to some North Fork residents.
As of Thursday, Instacart expanded its reach eastward, making personal grocery shopping available to local customers of BJ’s Wholesale Club, Costco, Best Market and CVS. Petco will be included starting April 27. Service areas include Riverhead and Flanders, Aquebogue, Jamesport, Baiting Hollow and Mattituck.
“There are many different people who benefit from Instacart and I think ultimately Instacart can be a service for everyone,” Walker Dieckmann, general manager at Instacart, said Tuesday.
The service is used by people including busy moms, working professionals and residents who aren’t as mobile as they used to be, he said.
Since 2014, Instacart has been available in parts of western Suffolk and Nassau counties, Mr. Dieckmann said. The company monitors locations near its existing delivery areas that have shown customer interest and Riverhead was listed as one of them, he said. Customers use Instacart.com or its mobile app to shop, adding items from participating retailers to their virtual carts. They then choose a delivery window — which could be as little as an hour or up to five days in advance — and check out.
An Instacart personal shopper then accepts the order via smartphone, uses the app to guide them through the shopping list, which can involve multiple stores per order, and then delivers the order to the customer’s home.
“If there’s something that’s out of stock or maybe there’s a produce item that’s poor quality, the shopper will communicate with the customer, find a replacement and bring it straight to their door,” Mr. Dieckmann said.
The arrival of Instacart could also create income opportunities for people who want to work as personal shoppers, according to the company.
Mr. Dieckmann said Instacart’s shoppers “come from all different backgrounds. They use the platform to connect with customers and bring them groceries from their favorite stores. It really makes a difference in people’s lives.”
Customers pay a delivery fee of $5.99 for orders totaling $35 and up. Various monthly or annual memberships are also available. Instacart is offering first-time users $20 off their order with the code HEYRIVERHEAD.