Instacart has introduced new safety measures and resources aimed at protecting its workers, with the help of ADT, the company announced in a statement on Thursday. The "in-app safety hub" will now offer features like a "get emergency assistance" button, resources on injury protection and shopping and delivering safely, and it will be easier to report issues workers run into while shopping or delivering.
The company, which refers to the contractors that fulfill grocery orders as "shoppers," also launched an identity verification feature, by which shoppers will be prompted to take a photo of themselves periodically while shopping or delivering to verify that their account is not being used by someone else. Instacart also removed the requirement for workers to scan a customer's ID when delivering prescriptions or alcohol, opting for customers to scan their own IDs and for workers to verify the match "from a safe, six-foot distance." That change allows Instacart to offer contactless delivery, which will be rolled out in the coming weeks.
The grocery delivery service has also added perks for workers through partnerships with Sprint, CarAdvise and Good Sam. The new offerings aims to help workers save on automobile maintenance, roadside assistance and cell phone coverage.
As grocery apps have seen a surge in downloads and customers engage with grocers more on social media during the COVID-19 pandemic, Instacart has undergone quite a bit of change both to expand its footprint and brace for increased demand. In mid-May, the grocery delivery platform teamed up with Rite Aid to transport healthcare and grocery essentials to customers. Last month, the platform announced that it would deliver prescriptions to Costco customers.
In addition to hiring 250,000 more gig workers last month, on top of 300,000 announced in late March, the platform added a new "fast and flexible" feature and an "order ahead" feature in April. As of mid-May, the platform's delivery times had stabilized amid the surging demand.
However, as with many essential retailers, Instacart has received backlash from workers around their safety during the months of increased demand. The company faced a worker strike in early May, and these added safety features are meant to demonstrate the company's "commitment to shopper safety," according to the release.
In its statement, the company highlighted its COVID-19 Resource Center and noted that it has unveiled more than 15 new product features, additional health guidelines, contactless delivery options, shopper bonuses, sick leave policies and pay for those affected by the coronavirus. The platform joins retailers and companies, including Uber, Michaels, 7-Eleven, At Home and Walmart, in adding contactless measures to limit coronavirus exposure.
"The health and safety of the entire shopper community remains a top priority and it's critically important we continue to evolve our offerings for shoppers to ensure they have the personal protective equipment and resources they need inside and outside of the aisles to help keep them safe," Nilam Ganenthiran, president of Instacart, said in a statement. "These new features, safety tools and resources we're introducing today will help ensure shoppers have the support they need both during and long after the COVID-19 crisis."