Instacart offers tiered rewards to gig workers

Source: Instacart
Aug 09, 2022

Instacart has introduced a three-pronged tiered-rewards program, Cart Star, to drive loyalty among its shoppers (delivery personnel).

The program offers incentives across three tiers: Gold, Platinum or Diamond.

To qualify for Cart Star, shoppers accumulate points based on the number of orders they fulfill within a three-month qualifying period, earning 10 points per order. Gold Cart status kicks in at 200 points, Platinum Cart at 1,000 points, and Diamond Cart will have earned 2,000 points.

Rewards under the program include:

  • Childcare discount: Diamond Cart shoppers gain access to two days of Backup Care in-home for a child, senior or pet, or in-center childcare, through a partnership with for $1 per hour or $10 per day. 
  • Gas/oil change discount: Through partnerships with Upside and CarAdvise, shoppers across all three Cart Star levels receive cash back at gas stations and a discount on an oil change. Platinum and Diamond Cart members receive bigger savings.
  • Customer recognition: Platinum and Diamond Cart shoppers receive recognition in the Instacart app, indicating to customers their status, number of orders shopped and how long they’ve been delivering for Instacart. In testing, customers who saw a top shopper badge on their profile were likelier to leave a higher rating and higher tip for their shopper.
  • Preferred order status: Diamond Cart shoppers who are within close range of a store’s location gain priority access to batches and exclusive early access to batches with the ability to accept batches before stores open.

Shoppers must maintain a 4.7 average customer rating to have access to the program.

Instacart offers tiered rewards to gig workers
Photo: Instacart


The incentive program is the final installment of its four-part rollout of new tools for its workers that also included tip protections and an overhaul of its customer rating system to dilute the impact of hard-to-please customers.

Instacart has faced numerous walkouts from its independent contractor workforce over worker protections, including two threatened strikes in 2020 and 2021 as growth surged during the pandemic. Recently, sales have slowed as consumers return to pre-pandemic shopping habits and moderate their spending due to inflation. Heightened competition is also arriving from Uber Eats and Doordash.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Will Instacart’s Cart Star rewards program lead to greater retention of its independent contractor workforce? Does it help resolve some of the shortcomings of the gig working model?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.
"I think this program is quite incentivizing, especially in an inflationary economy where recessionary-level layoffs looms possible."

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5 Comments on "Instacart offers tiered rewards to gig workers"

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Melissa Minkow

These rewards are both useful to workers and relevant to retention. I think this program is quite incentivizing, especially in an inflationary economy where recessionary-level layoffs looms possible.

Chuck Ehredt

Tier-based loyalty programs work in most environments because they define clear goals to reach additional benefits. For workers (shoppers), once they start receiving benefits, then the ability to leave those benefits behind becomes something they will think about the next time they have a tough day.

Of course, the benefits need to be reachable and useful, but as we can see in the list above, there is a little bit of something for nearly everyone, so this should work. The badges (recognition) are also important and in a community type app, they represent a degree of trust that customers want, and workers will strive for in order to stand out.

Katie Thomas

So the only good metric for employees is sheer volume? And overall customer reviews, which can’t be fully controlled by the gig worker?

I think there could be more creativity here to drive better overall customer experience rather than incentivizing the employee just to fill a lot of orders.

Shep Hyken

Just as a retailer might create a “loyalty program,” why not do the same for employees – especially independent gig workers who, like customers, choose who they want to work for, when they want to work, etc.? As the gig economy continues to grow, so must the strategies that companies use to incentivize the gig workers.

Anil Patel

Surprisingly, initiatives like “giveaways, prizes, and coupons” function in a magical way and easily appeal to people. Implementing incentives like these is crucial to retaining gig workers. Therefore, I think Instacart’s approach will be successful. The strategy seems to be very effective, however, these reward schemes will definitely work but only up to a certain extent as there is no quick fix to solve all the workers’ grievances.

"I think this program is quite incentivizing, especially in an inflationary economy where recessionary-level layoffs looms possible."

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