I ordered a load of groceries from Kroger via Instacart a while back, and the Instacart shopper accidentally left the Kroger receipt in one of the shopping bags. I was confused because no other shoppers had given me the store receipt before. So i did some comparing between the Kroger receipt and the Instacart receipt to see how close the prices were between the two.
Kroger Savings Is Not Passed On
The first thing that stuck out at me were two items that had Kroger savings. This is the money you get when you give the cashier your Kroger card when you check out. There were two items on my list that got Kroger savings, but those savings were not passed on to me. The Instacart price matched the regular Kroger price. Because of that I lost out on $0.79.
Instacart Prices Not Always Higher
There were eight other items with price differences between what I paid Instacart and what Instacart paid Kroger. Interestingly, Instacart did not always come out ahead on those. Instacart charged me less the Kroger price for half of those items and more for the other half.
I saved $6.42 on the items that I was undercharged for. However, i overpaid $7.68 on the other four items.
Taking all this into account, I paid Instacart $2.05 more than they paid Kroger. This was on an order total of about $75, so the premium was a little under 3%.
Produce Prices are Hard to Track
One thing I should note is that most of my purchases were produce, and the price of produce tends to change a lot more often than the price of processed/boxed foods. This might explain why Instacart got their prices wrong in both directions.
Since the prices were wrong in both directions, it's also possible that I have underpaid on other Instacart orders.
Possible Pricing Strategies
It's my opinion that Instacart's current pricing strategy is to make a best effort to get prices to match and to only keep the price differences due to the Kroger shopper's card.
However, that could be completely wrong. In this age of data science, maybe they're figuring out which items people care about overpaying for and which items people care less about overpaying for. In that case, an obvious business model would be to charge more for the items that people don't pay attention to and charge less for the items people watch really closely or purchase more often.
Either way, it's an interesting thing to think about, and I'm looking forward to the next receipt that I'm accidentally given.
Photo by Amoon Ra