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Instacart, a service that leverages crowdsourcing to deliver groceries from multiple local stores -- often within an hour of the time the order is placed -- has expanded to Chicago, where items from Trader Joe’s can be ordered and delivered by an Instacart personal shopper.
Additional items from Dominick’s, Whole Foods and Costco will be added in the coming weeks, allowing customers to combine items from all four stores into one order and have them delivered on the same day. The company said that customers can open a free account at www.Instacart.com and get free delivery on their first order.
“We look for urban areas with tech-savvy consumers who may not have cars and value convenience,” said Apoorva Mehta, CEO and founder of San Francisco-based Instacart. “Chicago fit the bill. We’re really excited to expand our footprint beyond San Francisco. There’s a lot more to come.”
Instacart uses a crowd-sourced labor force, dubbed “Personal Shoppers,” who shop for and deliver grocery orders using their own vehicles. This eliminates the need for costly infrastructure such as warehouses, trucks and full-time drivers.
Instacart keeps careful track of the price, location and availability of thousands of individual grocery items in the local stores in which it shops to help its Personal Shoppers be as efficient as possible and enable rapid delivery. The company recently closed an $8.5 million Series A funding round from Sequoia Capital and others, stating that it would use the funds for geographic expansion. Chicago is the first of 10 major cities Instacart plans to expand into by the end of 2014.
Instacart has signed on and trained a number of Personal Shoppers in Chicago, and the service is already available in 13 Chicago neighborhoods: Lake View, Lincoln Park, Logan Square, West Town, Near West Side, Lower West Side, Near North Side, Loop and Near South Side, as well as portions of Douglas, Bridgeport, Amour Square and McKinley Park.