April 4, 2014, 4:00 PM

Instacart introduces same-day web grocery delivery to Los Angeles

Consumers for now can order only from Whole Foods, but more stores are to come.

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Same-day grocery delivery service Instacart has expanded to Los Angeles, offering deliveries of online orders via Whole Foods Market. Instacart says it expects to add more stores in the coming weeks and enable web shoppers “to combine items from multiple stores into one order.”

The service applies to the following areas in Los Angeles County: West Hollywood, Hollywood, Fairfax, Beverly Grove, Sawtelle, West LA, Mid-Wilshire, Santa Monica, Venice and Marina Del Rey. Initial orders of $35 or more receive free delivery. Instacart typically charges $3.99 for two-hour deliveries and $14.99 for one-hour deliveries. Instacart’s minimum order is $10. For a $99 annual fee, Instacart offers free deliveries on all orders of $35 or more.

“We expect that the traffic and long commutes in LA will drive demand similar to what cold weather does for the East Coast,” says Instacart founder Apoorva Mehta. “Instacart will allow LA residents to avoid making those detours to the grocery store while continuing to get the healthy foods they love. We’re really excited to bring Instacart to LA and give folks an easy way to get great food delivered right to their doorstep.”

Instacart already serves online grocery shoppers in San Francisco, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York City, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. Participating stores include Safeway Inc. (No 121 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide), Shaw's, Harris Teeter, BJ's Wholesale Club (No. 266) and Costco Wholesale Corp (No. 16).

Online grocery sales in the U.S. reached $6.5 billion in 2013, up by 8.3% from $6 billion in 2012, according to global research firm IbisWorld. That’s about 1.2% of the $531.40 billion total U.S. grocery market in 2013, IbisWorld says.

But delivery costs could constitute a barrier to the spread of grocery deliveries, according to a report earlier this year from e-commerce consulting firm Etailing Solutions. It found that 53% of 151 surveyed shoppers in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut who buy groceries online say they would do so more often if delivery fees were lower. Another 28% say lower grocery prices would do the trick.

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