During these unprecedented times when the directive is to stay at home and to limit your interaction with others, the demand for both curbside pick-up as well as home delivery has seen a sudden spike. In fact, since the onset of COVID-19 impacted our nation, services like Instacart saw longer wait times than usual, noting order volumes increased by 300 percent last week alone compared to the same period the previous year.
Recognizing the impact to these services on its own customers, Tops began working closer with its partner Instacart to monitor the situation and increase the number of options to lighten the impact. A number of measures were put into place early on to help alleviate the wait times including:
- Expanding the hours in which its Instacart employees (known as “shoppers”) can shop Tops stores, allowing them to more readily fulfill the orders being received and
- Continuously hiring and on-boarding thousands of new shoppers each week.
Additionally, to help with the high demand for online orders, Tops own associates began picking online orders to assist Instacart shoppers in a pilot store April 16, with more stores immediately to follow.
VP of Instacart Care, Mark Killick, said, “Over the course of the last few weeks, the customer demand for our service and the sheer number of shoppers on our platform has surged in the wake of COVID-19. In my 38 years in the customer support industry, I’ve never seen anything quite like this. From a care operations perspective, most natural disasters and emergencies are high stakes, sudden but localized. In contrast, COVID-19 is affecting every one of us over a sustained period of time, and, as a result, we’ve had to reimagine and rescale our care operations overnight to best serve customers and shoppers across North America.”
Due to the pandemic, Instacart has become an essential service for millions of people in the US and Canada who are depending on the platform to safely, reliably and affordably get the groceries and household goods they need in a contactless manner. During the past few weeks, Instacart has launched new features to help minimize friction and increase safety and convenience for employees and customers including:
- An employee Safety Center to provide masks, hand sanitizer and thermometers at no cost
- “Leave at My Door” default option for contact-less customer delivery
- Fast and flexible option where customers receive an estimated delivery window and are notified when a shopper starts to work on their order
- Extended the ordering window from 7 days to 14 days
- Evolving their Help Center and significantly increasing their number of agents
“The last few weeks have been busier than we’ve ever imagined and our Tops team, along with Instacart, are working around the clock to serve all of our customers in this time of need,” stated Ed Rick, director of digital and e-commerce for Tops. “We will continue to be here for them and do everything we can to make their experience with us a positive one.”