Instacart Shop Only Orders: Meaning, How It Works, Benefits, Average Pay & Why They Are Better Than Curbside Pickup

After shopping on Instacart, you can either pick up the order or have it delivered. Only a full-service shopper can shop on your behalf and deliver it. On the other hand, both in-store and full-service shoppers can handle pickup orders. 

When a full-service shopper is responsible for a pickup order, it is called a ‘shop only’ order. This type of order is typically beneficial for customers who prefer to have their order follow a preference, among other benefits. 

This guide delves into the meaning of Shop Only orders, how it works, its benefits, and areas that currently provide the option in the U.S. You will also discover how much full-service shoppers can make (on average) per Shop Only order. 

What Are Instacart Shop Only Orders? 

Instacart Shop Only orders are pickup orders managed by full-service shoppers. These orders are paid for by the shopper and placed in a staging area for you to pick them up at a convenient time.

They are different from curbside pickup because Instacart processes the payments for these orders individually. This way, Instacart and full-service shoppers can make profits. 

How Does Instacart Shop Only Orders Work?


Placing a Shop Only order on Instacart requires you to follow these steps: 

  1. Create a shopping list on the Instacart app, selecting the “Shop Only” option and choosing a convenient pickup time. 
  2. Full-service shoppers will see the “Shop Only” label attached to such an order and how much they will make by shopping and preparing the order before accepting it. 
  3. Whichever shopper accepts it first will receive an email reiterating that your order is not meant for delivery. You can also leave a note to communicate your preference for every item on your list. 
  4. The full-service shopper will proceed to your preferred store to shop for the items and checkout with their Instacart card. 
  5. After checking out, your order (already in a bag) will be taken to the store’s “staging area” with labels describing how it should be preserved. 
  6. Some items may go into the freezer while others are stored in a fridge. Those who do not require special conditions will be placed on the shelf (a cool dry place).
  7. Your shopper will take a photo of where each bag is placed and their labels for easy pickup. 

Benefits of Instacart Shop Only Orders

1. Personalized shopping experience 

Unlike curbside pickup, the Instacart “Shop Only” option allows you to add personalized notes for items in your order. This allows customers to specify if they want the ripest avocados or only big cucumbers. 

2. Convenient and cost-effective 

Shop Only orders allow you to schedule a convenient time for pickup before the store’s closing hour. Also, by picking up your order, you eliminate delivery fees. 

3. Flexibility 

“Shop Only” orders were designed to primarily accommodate customers who are unsure of their availability for delivery. Instead, their orders get picked up at a nearby store whenever they are free. 

4. Reduces impulse buying 

These orders allow customers to rely on the expertise of full-service shoppers. These shoppers visit different stores and understand how they work, allowing them to shop according to the customer’s preferences. 

Sometimes, they go the extra length to visit multiple stores. When you opt for in-store orders or shop by yourself, there is always a chance of falling victim to impulse buying or choosing alternatives easily. 

5. Time-saving 

Aside from being cost-effective, Shop Only orders save time for busy customers. This allows them to focus on other tasks while keeping an eye on any updates from the full-service shoppers.

What Areas Support Shop-Only Orders? 

Currently, only a few areas like Florida, Georgia, Alabama, South Carolina, Kentucky, and other cities in the Southeastern U.S. support Shop Only orders. This is because these areas have the most busy stores. 

However, Instacart has begun to extend the service to other regions. Hence, watch out for this option when creating or checking out a shopping list (as a customer) or shopping for customers as (a full-service shopper.) 

How Much Do Full-Service Shoppers Make From Shop Only Orders? 


On average, you get about $7 to $10, depending on your service area, order size, and the distance covered. With the above figure, it is safe to say that Shop Only orders pay less than delivery orders ($15 to $20.) 

However, if you can get multiple Shop Only orders or batches from a store, you could earn a lot within your active hours. Simply put, it is a shopping option that lets you earn more without worrying about traffic, fuel consumption, or driving long distances. 


Where do full-service shoppers earn the most in the U.S.?

Atlanta, Chicago, and New York are the highest-paying cities for full-service shoppers. On average, they earn between $23 to $25 or more per hour for delivery orders. 

How do Instacart customers pay?

Your credit card has already been linked with the shopper’s card. Hence, you will be charged almost immediately when a full-service shopper pays for your order with their Instacart card. 

Does Instacart pay shoppers on the same day?

By default, full-service shoppers are paid weekly via direct deposit to their bank account. However, shoppers can choose to get their payment immediately with the Instant Cashout feature, provided they have up to $5 in earnings. 


The Shop Only order is a new Instacart feature designed to improve your experience as a customer. Keep an eye out for it the next time you create a shopping list because it is more personalized, unlike curbside pickup. 

With Shop Only orders, customers can interact with full-service shoppers regarding their preferences and save costs on delivery fees. On the other hand, full-service shoppers can accept up to 3 Shop Only orders or batches, provided they are from the same store. 

This helps them to earn more (between $7 and $10 per order) without needing to travel long distances and deal with gridlock or severe weather conditions. At this point, it is safe to say this new feature is a win-win for shoppers and customers. 

I hope you found this guide helpful. Here is what to expect when you report a missing item from an Instacart order

Thanks for reading.