- Following a successful pilot in Orlando, Florida, Publix will roll out a fresh meal delivery and pickup platform from e-commerce provider Instacart to stores throughout Florida, with expansion in the Southeast in the coming months. The feature is rolled into Instacart’s existing app, according to an Instacart press released emailed to Grocery Dive.
- The new tool, Instacart Meals, includes a digital deli counter that offers the grocer’s popular Publix subs. Customers can build and customize their own subs using the app and then add to the rest of their grocery order.
- The collaboration with Publix is the first step in Instacart’s new grocery meal delivery service, which offers ordering, delivery and pickup of made-to-order food from grocers through the app. Instacart Meals will launch with additional retailers throughout the U.S. later this year, the company said.
Instacart has been delivering "pub subs" from Publix for over a year now, but selection was limited to signature sandwich choices that couldn’t easily be customized. The new functionality aims to make the ordering process more seamless for shoppers and stores.
In addition to the build-your-own function in the Instacart app, the meal delivery feature plugs into Publix’s ordering system so store employees receive orders through existing infrastructure. Instacart contractors can then pick up the order to add to a customer’s total haul.
Instacart Meals also includes a "smart cart combo" feature that automatically offers customers promos, discounts and combo options at checkout. This includes Publix’s signature sub combo, which is now available via Instacart for the first time, the company said.
As prepared and made-to-order food options in grocery stores become more focused on quality and reflect restaurant-style menus, customers have become more interested in adding meals to their online grocery orders. While Instacart, DoorDash and Shipt have dabbled in meal delivery, the infrastructure has been in its early stages as companies figure out the best way to approach the process.
With Instacart Meals, the company is setting up the necessary structure to handle the logistics of meal delivery, which can be complicated when factoring in things like customization, food temperature and fluctuating weight and pricing. By adding Instacart Meals into the company’s existing app rather than setting up a separate platform, it is also helping to create a more cohesive experience that will ease the confusion many restaurants experience as they add delivery options.
Publix's partnership with Instacart has potential to bring up their bottom line. According to Instacart president Nilam Ganenthiran, purchases from made-to-order food counters represent as much as 15% of sales for Instacart's grocery partners and have higher margins than much of the store.