Instacart jumps into prescription delivery with Costco

Online grocery delivery company Instacart is launching a prescription delivery service through a partnership with Costco as demand for online delivery continues to rise amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The company said Thursday the delivery service is now available from nearly 200 Costco locations in Arizona, California, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, New York, Washington and Washington, D.C. The service, which was initially piloted at several locations in Southern California and Washington, will expand nationally in the coming months, the company said.

Customers who use the online prescription service will receive a text message from their Costco pharmacy when their prescription is ready. The text will include a link with the option to schedule their prescription for delivery. Once the customer clicks the link, they will be redirected to Costco’s site. From there, customers can confirm their prescription and continue to add groceries and household goods to their Instacart Costco delivery order. The orders are delivered to customers in a sealed, tamper-proof bag to ensure customer safety and privacy.

Instacart is also offering contactless delivery for most medications. Instacart shoppers are able to scan a customer’s ID for verification without a signature on qualifying prescription orders. Customers are also able to schedule delivery up to one week in advance under the new service.

The new service was driven by demand in the wake of COVID-19, said Instacart president Nilam Ganenthiran.

“For many people, we know that part of their grocery shopping experience goes beyond fresh produce, meat, seafood and pantry staples, and also includes getting much-needed medications,” said Ganenthiran.

Instacart has seen demand for its grocery service skyrocket as the COVID-19 pandemic spread. The company’s total order volume last week was 400% higher than the same week last year. Customers are spending more, as well. The average customer basket size — meaning the total amount a customer spends on their order on Instacart — is more than 25% month-over-month, according to the company.

The increase in demand has prompted Instacart to expand its reach by adding nearly 150 new stores to its marketplace since March 1. It’s also adding workers to keep up with the increase in customers.

Instacart announced April 10 that it doubled its “Care” team, from 1,200 agents to 3,000 agents. These employees answer questions about how Instacart works as well as respond to delivery issues and other mishaps with orders.

The hiring news followed a strike in March organized by Instacart shoppers who demanded personal protective equipment, hazard pay, default tips and extended sick pay.