Mobile

New Instacart feature lets friends and colleagues share a shopping cart (exclusive)

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After a long day at work, you open your fridge and are greeted with a forlorn-looking piece of cheese and some rancid smelling milk. We have all experienced this pain and that weary reluctance to make a trip to the grocery store.

A startup called Instacart is fast becoming a favorite in the Bay Area for its mobile and web service that lets you order food and beverages in a snap. The app is available for free on Google Play and the App Store.

Since it launched in August 2012, Instacart has found a niche with busy, urban professionals — but it’s also used by office managers at local startups.

To make it easier for roommates or colleagues to order items for a shared kitchen, Instacart has launched a new feature called “Shop with Friends.”

Click the “Shop with Friends” button to access a communal shopping cart, which anyone can access by clicking a custom link. “The idea is to give people the flexibility they have at the checkout counter,” said Instacart’s founder, Apoorva Mehta, in an interview. Mehta is a former supply chain management engineer for Amazon.com, who saw an opportunity to fast-track online grocery delivery.

Screen Shot 2013-03-12 at 1.43.55 PMThe company plans to beat out the competition with its focus on customer service and user experience design. Simply login via Facebook or set up an account, open a shopping cart, add a few items, share the link if you’re shopping with friends, and tap to place the order.

Thousands of items are available and will be delivered by Instacart’s team of personnel at home or an office in under three hours.

Instacart recently partnered up with yuppie chains WholeFoods and Trader Joe’s, and also delivers groceries from Safeway. The startup makes its money by charging a convenience fee ($3.99 for orders over $30) and an additional $14.99 for one-hour delivery.

We first reported on Instacart at a recent demo day for Y Combinator, the highly competitive accelerator program. At the time, we described it as an “Uber for grocery deliveries.” Similarly to Uber, Instacart has butted heads with city regulators (in this case, over its ability to sell wine and spirits).

In future, Instacart plans to bring in new revenues by selling an enterprise subscription to larger companies. The company has raised $2.3 million in seed funding.


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