In September, the consumer price index increased 0.4% for the month, more than the 0.3% Dow Jones estimate, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. On a 12-month basis, so-called inflation was up 8.2%, off its peak of around 9% in June, but still hovering near the highest levels since the early 1980s. With inflation persisting at a 40-year high, Simo says that she’s working to help grocers overcome the inflationary challenges affecting consumer behavior.
“Right now, a big thing that we’re focused on is making the service more affordable,” she observes. “One of the things that we’re doing is making deals and discounts more accessible to people, which is why we created the Deals Tab. We can onboard value retailers that are on the more affordable end; that’s why we created a dollar hub. Then, when it comes to our membership, we want to continue providing more value, so with Instacart+, we relaunched it and we added the ability to have what we call family accounts.”
Another inflation-fighting focus for Simo has been expanding SNAP. Over the past two years, Instacart has pioneered the EBT (electronic benefit transfer) SNAP retailer onboarding process, which has enabled EBT SNAP payments nationwide with more than 70 retailers and banners spanning more than 8,000 stores across 49 states and Washington, D.C. Today, the company has a goal of expanding EBT SNAP payment access to all Instacart grocery partners by 2030.
Simo says that Instacart customers three years ago tended to be much more affluent than the average U.S. population, “whereas right now, if you look at our split of consumers, we actually map very closely to the U.S. population in terms of income, which to me is incredibly important.” It’s a metric that she tracks very closely because she wants to make sure that online grocery is something that’s accessible for all.
“So many people tell us that they’re saving time, they’re saving money on transportation costs, they’re managing their budget better,” Simo says. “They can also start making healthier choices.”
Instacart’s SNAP efforts are part of its new health initiative that aims to increase nutrition security, make health choices simpler for consumers and expand the role that food plays in improving health outcomes. The initiative launched in coordination with the White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition and Health in September.
“America’s health problem is actually a food problem,” Simo explains. “That’s why we launched Instacart Health, because we think health starts with good nutrition. And that’s why we’ve developed technologies for providers, nutritionists and dietitians to prescribe food in the same way as they would prescribe medicine.”
In terms of grocery e-commerce consumer trends, Simo says she’s “seeing people just want a lot of different things and have different needs, even across the same week. We are continuing to seize the need for convenience. Our convenience business is a segment of consumers who on occasion are ready to pay more to have their deliveries delivered faster, and it’s part of the business we’re continuing to see expand.”
She notes that people “always ask her whether quick commerce is dead,” now that so many entrants and innovators in that space seem to be foundering, but the reality is a bit more complicated than that.
“Quick commerce as a single use case is not sustainable on its own, but what we want to offer is all the possible options priced the right way,” Simo says. “So, yes, if you want to pay more for faster delivery, by all means. Sometimes we need something urgently, but there’s going to be other times where you’re just ordering your weekly shop, and it’s totally fine if it arrives within an hour.”
Grocers are telling Simo that options are what they want, because they want to capture all of these opportunities.
“They want to be there for their customers, no matter how their customers want to shop,” she affirms, “and so, if they have a technology partner that can help them provide all of these options, it’s great for them.”