Instacart is bringing its same-day grocery delivery service to Los Angeles, utilizing a crowdsourced model of personal shoppers who provide their own transportation and smartphones to shop for and deliver groceries to customers.
Starting Thursday, customers can order groceries and other items from Whole Foods Market and have them delivered in as little as an hour. Additional stores will be added in the coming weeks; shoppers will be able to combine items from multiple stores into one order.
Customers can open an account at http://www.instacart.com and get free delivery on their first order of $35 or more.
Instacart's initial L.A. coverage area includes West Hollywood, Hollywood, Fairfax, Beverly Grove, Sawtelle, West L.A., Mid-Wilshire, Santa Monica, Venice and Marina del Rey.
Instacart launched in 2012 in San Francisco, where it is headquartered. It has since expanded to Boston, Chicago, New York City, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., delivering from local grocery stores and large chains including Costco, Safeway and BJ's Wholesale Club.
Apoorva Mehta, founder of Instacart, said he hoped Angelenos would flock to the service to save time and avoid traffic. The company has fielded thousands of requests in recent months to come to L.A., he said.
"We expect that the traffic and long commutes in L.A. will drive demand similar to what cold weather does for the East Coast," Mehta said in a statement.
Instacart says the crowdsourced model eliminates the need for costly infrastructure such as warehouses, delivery trucks and full-time drivers.
To use the service, customers go to Instacart's website, select their city and store, and add items to a virtual cart. They choose a delivery window (within one hour, within two hours or a scheduled time in the future) and check out.
An Instacart personal shopper accepts the order via smartphone, buys the products and delivers the order in the designated delivery time frame.
The company said that the vast majority of Instacart customers select two-hour delivery, which costs $3.99. One-hour delivery is available for $14.99. The minimum order is $10.
Instacart also offers an Amazon Prime-like service called Instacart Express, a $99 annual membership that eliminates delivery fees for all orders of $35 or more.
About 35 people have already signed up to be Instacart personal shoppers in L.A., general manager Heather Wake said. The company has about 600 personal shoppers in the Bay Area.
Instacart raised $8.5 million in series-A funding in July, led by Sequoia Capital. It has announced plans to expand to 10 additional major cities by the end of the year.