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Instacart grocery delivery service rolls out in Los Angeles

Two Instacart shoppers.
Two Instacart shoppers.
(Instacart)

Sometimes called the Uber of grocery delivery, or the Amazon of online grocery shopping (even though Amazon has its own online grocery service), San Francisco-based Instacart has launched in Los Angeles.

The same-day grocery delivery service taps a team of crowdsourced employees who use their own transportation and shop for and deliver groceries to customers within an hour or two. That is, if those customers live in the areas where Instacart currently delivers -- Santa Monica, Venice, Marina del Rey, West L.A., Sawtelle, West Hollywood, Hollywood, Fairfax, Beverly Grove or Mid-Wilshire.

Instacart is offering free delivery on first orders of $35 or more, with flat fees of $3.99 (for two-hour delivery) or $14.99 (for one-hour delivery) thereafter. For a $99 annual membership fee, you can get free delivery on all orders of $35 or more (much like Amazon Prime Fresh).

Customers can choose groceries from Instacart’s website featuring items from Whole Foods Market and have them delivered. More stores will be added in coming weeks so that shoppers can buy groceries from multiple stores in a single order.

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Besides Los Angeles and San Francisco, Instacart also operates in Boston, New York, Chicago, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. It delivers both from local markets and chain grocery stores.

This is how it works: shop online at Instacart’s website, much like you would any other e-retailer, adding items to a virtual cart, then choose a delivery time (within one hour, two hours or another scheduled time) and check out with a credit card.

Then one of Instacart’s personal shoppers accepts the order by smartphone, goes to the store, buys the groceries and delivers the order for the arranged time. And, as Instacart would point out, you’ve avoided traffic.

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