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Instacart looked like a lifesaver. Now the stores are not confirmed.

Instacart Inc. It once seemed the perfect partner for supermarkets looking to break into e-commerce. After several years together, some grocery stores began to question the relationship.

But many major stores say they don’t make money with Instacart, largely because the delivery company typically charges them a commission of more than 10% per order. Some Instacart’s retailer partners say the service has a great deal of control over customer interactions and expect it to take an increasing share of the money food makers spend on marketing. All of that put groceries in trouble Delivery continues to boom And the Becomes a necessity.

Mark Skogen, CEO of Skogen’s Foodliner Inc. , Which operates more than 30 stores under its Festival Foods brand and started Instacart about a year ago: “We don’t think we’re making money out of ordering Instacart.”

Mr. Skogen said delivery is still expensive because his company pays Instacart a percentage of its online sales. The grocer still works with Instacart because it allows for higher revenues even if there is no profit.

Instacart president Neelam Janninteran said in an email that the company’s services are helping grocery stores grow without spending years of work and capital investment building the infrastructure.

“We are not competing with retailers,” said Mr. Janntheran. “We do not operate out of warehouses and have not launched our own stores or small stores like other services that directly compete with grocery stores.”

The Save A Lot chain joined Instacart this summer because the service was fast and easy to implement, said Chris Hawkes, chief trade officer for Midwestern Grocery which operates more than 1,000 stores. He said Save A Lot sees Instacart as a way to attract current and potential clients.

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Instacart said it has added or expanded arrangements with more than 150 retailers in the US and Canada this year, partnering with more than 500 companies including

Kruger a company

And the

Walmart a company ,

Aldi Inc. And 7-Eleven Inc.

Like many of its peers, the delivery service struggled to meet Demand spikes at the start of the pandemic But he said it has since happened. Instacart said its orders are up 500% annually in times of this year and that its workforce is largely made up of temp workers. More than doubled to 500,000.

A boom in business helped give Instacart its first profitable month, in April, since it was founded in 2012. The company has raised nearly $ 500 million since March, valued at $ 17.7 billion. Instacart said it was expecting an initial public offering (IPO) but declined to comment on the timing.

Over the years, Instacart has added services like suggesting alternatives to out-of-stock items based on customer preferences and letting consumers communicate directly with Instacart shoppers, Mr. Janntheran said.

Instacart has started offering non-food items, such as prescriptions and alcohol. The company is expanding business building sites and providing technology support to retailers.

Instacart also works with manufacturers to promote and discount products on their platform. Mark Griffin, president of B&R Stores Inc. In Nebraska, this means that retailers and Instacart are seeking the same pool of money that brands spend on marketing.

“We compete with what we consider a partner,” he said. When working with Instacart, B&R becomes part of a “complete laundry list” for retailers rather than a local store for customers, he said.

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Instacart’s Mr Janentheran said the advertising activity gives consumers access to discounts, which will ultimately encourage them to buy more from supermarkets. He added that Instacart was created to protect retailers and help them gain market share online.

When HEB LP partnered with Instacart in 2015, the Texas-based chain raised the prices of the products it sells via Instacart to help cover fees related to delivery, people familiar with the conversations said.

The coronavirus pandemic has forced many Americans to accept new financial facts. Shelby Holiday from WSJ traveled to a diverse neighborhood in Philadelphia to find out how neighbors are facing different conflicts caused by the same virus. Photo: Adam Falk / Wall Street Journal

To maintain some control, others choose not to outsource the entire ecommerce business. Kruger, the largest grocery store in the country, handles pickups with its own staff. The company too It encourages customers to order delivery through its website– Instead of Instacart – by offering digital coupons and saving fuel at Kruger gas stations for its loyalty program members. Kruger executives described Instacart in a recent earnings call as a senior partner but they said The grocer is always looking for delivery partners.

Retailers have more options on hand.

Powered by Dash a company

And the

Uber technologies a company

Grocery deliveries started this year

Targeting Corp

Shipt Inc. Expansion.

He said[أسوشيتد فوود ستورز],[سالت ليك]A cooperative city of more than 400 stores, it is exploring using[إينستاكارت]Early next year. So far, it has been using DoorDash, partly due to a lower service commission rate of roughly 9% per order charged to stores, said Thomas Horn, the company’s chief e-commerce manager. He said the Instacart rate is higher, although the pricing varies by retailer.

Instacart said it wants to give all supermarkets an edge.

“Choosing the perfect banana batch or the best alternative to your favorite cookies is a lot more complicated than choosing a burrito for someone,” said Mr. Janentheran, adding that the company continues to make investments to improve its operations.

Some supermarkets are holding out. Northeast Chain

Weiss Markets a company

Encourage customers to prefer Order online and collect from storesCEO Jonathan Weiss said. Grocer doesn’t use Instacart but relies on Shipt for delivery.

He said of Instacart: “It was a bit pricey, in our opinion.”

Instacart might still be just one of the many ways to buy groceries online. Farhan Siddiqui, Chief Digital Officer at

Royal Ahold Delights

NV, said customers prefer specific delivery services. Owner uses Giant and Stop & Shop Instacart chains as well as in-house delivery services Peapod and FreshDirect LLC, which they are Cooperating with a private equity firm to purchase.

He added, “It’s a very complicated world.”

Write to Jaewon Kang at [email protected]

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