Working at Instacart | Glassdoor

Instacart Overview

San Francisco, CA
501 to 1000 employees
2012
Company - Private
Internet
Unknown / Non-Applicable
About Instacart:

Instacart is a North American leader in online groceries and one of the fastest growing companies in e-commerce. Instacart’s same-day delivery and pickup services bring everyday essentials and fresh groceries to consumers in the ... Read more

Company Updates

  • Comin' in hot with an opportunity on our Logistics Operations team!

    It's Springtime Marathon season, which means road closures galore...but it doesn't mean that people want groceries any less. Thankfully we've got a team for that, and it's growing!

    As a Lead on the Log Ops team, you will be challenged to make decisions on both a tactical & strategic level, taking calculated steps to prepare for and/or react to anything that may potentially impact fulfillment operations. Some examples include extreme weather, systems outages, marathons, expansions, and allocation of shopper memberships/certifications.

    Click below to learn more & apply if you feel like we'd make a great pear ��

    Logistics Operations, Team Lead

    Cover Letter Individuals seeking employment at Instacart are considered without regards to race, color, religion, national origin, age, sex, marital status, ancestry, physical or mental disability, veteran status, gender identity, or sexual orientation. You are being given the opportunity to provide the following information in order to help us comply with federal and state Equal Employment Opportunity/Affirmative Action record keeping, reporting, and other legal requirements.

  • Lettuce take a moment to congratulate Kelvin L. for being recognized in Canada's 2019 Developer 30 under 30. Bravocado! ��

    "Kelvin is a self-taught iOS developer who started his journey four years ago when he purchased his first MacBook. He found his calling at the birth of the Swift programming language, and has been building iOS applications ever since. Kelvin is a published author of two programming books, an international speaker at tech conferences, and manages the second ranked Swift GitHub repository. Kelvin currently works at Instacart as an iOS developer for the retailers team."

    Canada's 2019 Developer 30 Under 30

    The Developer 30 Under 30, is an initiative dedicated to recognizing developers building the infrastructure behind Canada's companies. Established in 2017, the Developer 30 Under 30 allows developers to apply or be nominated for the award. Judges include Microsoft Canada GM of cloud and enterprise, Khalil Alfar, Government of Canada CTO, Marc Brouillard, and Instacart VP of engineering, Karney Li.

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Instacart – Why Work For Us?


Welcome Home:

At Instacart, we believe that great people are the ingredients for success. We like to think that we are like a potluck, everyone brings something new, different and flavorful to the table. Our mix of thoughtful, inventive and neighborly employees work together to deliver our common goal, to make grocery shopping effortless, and give valuable time back to our customers. We believe that just as meals are best shared together, success is best shared together. If this excites you, then Instacart just might be the place for you. Welcome home.


Food:

When it comes to food, we don’t mess around! We love to eat pizza, wings, and poppers on Fridays. It’s not uncommon for us to eat brunch for lunch and occasionally “Wine” down on Wednesdays. Check out some of the other ways that food brings us together and plays a part of our daily lives here at Instacart.

-Breakfast foods & snacks
-Lunch & Dinner service
-Pop-Up Cooking classes
-Themed Holiday Get-Togethers: from Superbowl, to St. Patty’s Day, to National Hot Sauce Day, we have your eats covered
-Hosted Team Happy Hours: teams rotate hosting happy hours (pro tip: Finance happy hours are ba-na-nas).

Community

Food has the power to nourish, unite, comfort, create conversations, strengthen bonds, remove barriers and honor cherished traditions, and more importantly, bring people together. We believe an inclusive culture is like a potluck—everyone brings something new, different and flavorful to our table. Together, we aim to build and foster an environment where people can bring their full, authentic selves to work. Learn more about our community groups who are working to support, attract, retain and grow underrepresented employees at Instacart.

  • Nightshades — Black Employee Resource Group
  • Women @ — Women’s Employee Resource
  • Parents @ — Parents Employee Resource Group
  • Rainbow Carrots — LGBTQ+ Employee Resource Group

As part of our efforts to raise awareness, educate and celebrate, we observe and honor celebrate cultural heritage months (Black History Month, Women’s History Month, Bring Your Kid to Work Day, and National Pride Month) with employee programming across the company in partnership with our ERG Communities.


Diversity:

Women are at the heart of Instacart. Over 80% of our customers are women and 73% of our shoppers are women— and we’re working to build a team of talented women to build the tools our customers and shoppers use every day.  Currently our corporate offices have 40/60 gender split across the company, and while we have work to do, we’re working hard to increase our demographics of technical women and employees of color across the company to reflect the communities in which we operate.


Our software development, mobile, infrastructure, data science and security engineers each bring a different flavor to the table to solve a souped-up version of the classic traveling salesman problem.

Together, we’re building a four-sided marketplace that includes the mobile and web apps most Instacart customers use every day, white-label storefronts and data APIs for our retail partners, an ad-serving engine for CPG and brand partners, and a world-class fulfillment app and last-mile logistics chain for our shoppers and drivers.

When you link all of the pieces of this technology chain together, you get a lean platform, powered by historical data from millions of orders and deliveries, that can consistently get groceries from your favorite local and national retailers to your door in as little as an hour...that’s no easy feat!

Learn more on our Tech @ Instacart Blog, here!

TEAM BREAKDOWNS

Retail Engineering: A lot of folks already know that we build a consumer-friendly app, and a utility app (our shopper app) used by in-store shoppers and full-service shoppers. Did you know we build B2B technology, too? Based in Toronto, our Retail Engineering team builds the white label products and APIs that let retailers build and maintain their own digital storefronts across web and mobile. There are a few specific products that our Retail Engineering team builds day-to-day: The Unata product line and Instacart Connect (our retailer API) make it easy for retail grocers to digitize inventory data, and funnel product data into their storefront.  

Mobile: We’re perfecting two mobile apps at the same time: a consumer app that makes it easy to browse huge catalogs of grocery data; and a shopper-facing app that needs to be intuitive and usable for every. one. of. our. shoppers. Both experiences need to be flawless.

Catalog: The catalog team focuses on retailer data at scale. Data Science is essential to us—it helps us to understand where we can improve the quality of our catalog and gives us deep product insights, letting us build a better Instacart for Customers, Shoppers, Retailers, and CPGs.

Fulfillment: Each of Instacart’s more than 300 retailer partners can digitize their grocery catalog with Instacart’s enterprise software and tap into our mature logistics infrastructure to tackle last mile delivery. Instacart’s dedicated community of 70,000 professional shoppers across North America pick, pack and deliver customers’ groceries with care. On the technical side, Instacart employs a variety of technologies to make this happen. Instacart ingests and cleans 500M lines of grocery catalog data each day to ensure that prices and item details remain up-to-date and consistent with retailer data. The Instacart

Machine Learning at Instacart

We work incredibly hard to make Instacart easy to use. Our site and app are intuitive – you fill your shopping cart, pick the hour you want delivery to occur in, and then the groceries are handed to you at your doorstep. But achieving this simplicity cost effectively at scale requires an enormous investment in engineering and data science. Data science informs every decision we make across the engineering and product organizations. 


Fulfillment

At its core, Instacart is a real-time logistics platform. We are in the business of moving goods from A (a store) to B (your front door) as efficiently and predictably as we can. At any given time, for every market we operate in, we can have thousands of customers expecting delivery in the coming hours. We also can have thousands of shoppers actively working or waiting to be dispatched through our mobile shopper application.

Our fulfillment algorithm decides in real time how to route those shoppers to store locations to pick groceries and deliver them to customers’ doorsteps in as little as one hour. We re-compute this optimization every minute because the world is constantly changing. We have to balance speed (some shoppers shop faster, some stores are less busy) with efficiency (can we deliver multiple orders simultaneously) with quality (does the customer get the exact groceries they want) and timeliness (is the order delivered within the hour it is due – no earlier, no later).

Example of near-optimal combinations of orders for our drivers to deliver (noise added to addresses to protect privacy)
Example of near-optimal combinations of orders for our drivers to deliver (noise added to addresses to protect privacy)

Optimizing multiple objectives while routing thousands of shoppers every minute to fulfill millions of orders is a tremendous data science challenge.

Supply & Demand

Instacart operates a very dynamic and complex fulfillment marketplace. Our consumers place orders (demand) and our shoppers fulfill those orders (supply) in as little as an hour. If supply exceeds demand in a market, we lose money and reduce shopper happiness due to shoppers sitting idle. If instead demand exceeds supply in a market, we lose revenue and customers due to limited availability and busy pricing. Our shoppers work with us to make money, and so they will only be happy if they’re able to keep busy. On the other side, our customers change their lifestyles because of our product, and so we need to be there for them when they want us.

Jeremy and Morgane discussing demand forecasting
Jeremy and Morgane discussing demand forecasting

Balancing supply and demand requires sophisticated systems for forecasting customer and shopper behavior down to individual store locations by hour of day many days into the future. We then create staffing plans that blend multiple different labor role types to optimize our efficiency while ensuring high availability for our customers. This is made even more challenging by the many different queues we must manage across stores and division of labor. Then in real time, we have to estimate our capacity for orders every time a user visits our site or one of our apps, and then dynamically control availability and busy pricing to smooth demand and create the optimal customer experience.

These systems operate over multiple time horizons, have to solve for multiple competing objectives, and control for many erratic sources of variation (shopper behavior, weather, special events, etc.). We will always have huge opportunities to make improvements here.

Search & Personalization

Instacart isn’t just grocery delivery, we’re creating a better grocery shopping experience. A majority of grocery shopping is about finding the food on your list. In a traditional grocery store, the search engine is the customer’s two feet. At Instacart, it’s a massive algorithm that can mine billions of searches to ensure every product a customer wants is at the edge of their fingertips.

At a physical grocery store, you have to discover new products on your own. But at Instacart, we can curate the experience for you through personalization. What could be more personal than food? We have an intimate relationship with it every day – we put it in our bodies! As much as movie recommendations were critical to the success of Netflix, so too are product recommendations critical to Instacart.

The search team - Sharath, Vincent, Raj and Jon from left
The search team – Sharath, Vincent, Raj and Jon from left

Our consumers order large basket sizes of diverse foods over and over and over again from us. We have more density on our user behavior than any e-commerce company I have ever seen. We are just beginning to use that data to provide incredibly valuable personalized experiences for our users on Instacart in search, in product discovery and in suggestions we make to our users. We A/B test everything and are thinking really hard about the long term impacts of our changes.

Through investments in search and personalization, Instacart has the opportunity to go beyond convenience in shopping online, and into a future where everyone finds more food they love faster.

How does data science work at Instacart?

We have made the conscious decision to embed our data scientists into our product teams, side-by-side with their engineers, designers and product managers and reporting into the engineering leader for the team. So to answer this question, you first have to understand how engineering works at Instacart.

At Instacart, we place a high value on ownership, speed and ultimately shipping products that have a huge measure-able impact. In engineering, we have organized to optimize for these values. We have many product teams, each of which have full-stack and/or mobile developers, designers, analysts, product managers and engineering leaders dedicated to them. Some teams are only 3 people, others are up to 10. Each team completely owns their ‘product’, and defines their key metrics and sets their roadmap weekly.

We align all of these teams to a small (three or fewer) set of company wide goals that are updated whenever they are achieved or exceeded. These company goals are concise, measurable and time-bound objectives set by our board and executive team that the entire company is committed to. We are obsessively focused on them, and are incredibly transparent about our status and progress on these goals – our CEO sends detailed notes on each weekly.

So every product team answers the question every week “what can we do to have the biggest impact on our company’s goals this week?”. They are then empowered to do whatever they need to within their product to achieve those goals. It’s their ideas, their creativity, their collaboration, their resourcefulness, and their hard work that really moves the needle.

Jeremy presenting on visualization at a Friday engineering lunch

For technology companies, data science can either be an integral component to huge value creation, or an expensive and distracting hobby. Many factors determine the outcome, but how you organize your data scientists is one of the biggest contributing factors. By embedding our data scientists into product teams, we’ve ensured that they are as integral a part of their teams as they can be. As the VP of data science, it’s my job to make sure that the data scientists stay connected, have the mentorship they need, and are having the biggest impact they can within their teams.

The data scientists have a tremendous amount of traction in this model. Their ideas can directly shape not only product innovation, but also data collection and infrastructure innovation to fuel future product ideas. They work directly with their team to bring their products the ‘last mile’ to production. This lets data scientists put new ideas into production in days (from inception), and to rapidly iterate on those ideas as they receive feedback from their consumers. This also gives data scientists a holistic a view of their product, and helps to ensure they are optimizing for the right objectives as effectively as possible.

What are some areas Instacart is expecting to invest in data science in the near future?

Shoppers

Our shoppers are very important to our company. They shop for our customers in the stores, communicate with them live to resolve any issues, and bring the food to their doorstep thousands of times every hour. We can use data science to optimize how we onboard these shoppers and ensure they are successful. We can also optimize and personalize our shopper application to ensure our shoppers can do their jobs quickly and effectively.

Partners

In many companies, advertising is a necessary evil. At Instacart, we have been able to integrate advertising in a way that is a clear win for the advertiser, for the customer and Instacart! Our Deals program lets consumer packaged goods companies offer discounts to our customers (they love them!). Ensuring that customers see the deals they would be most interested in, and that the advertisers get a high ROI for their spend is a huge data science opportunity for Instacart.

Bala, Mathieu and Sherin discussing batching (from left)
Bala, Mathieu and Sherin discussing batching (from left)

What Data Science roles is Instacart recruiting for?

We are looking for data scientists with expertise in forecasting, predictive modeling, ads optimization, search and recommendations. We are also looking for operations research scientists with expertise in planning, logistics and real-time control systems. Our team uses Python, R, SQL (Postgres & Redshift) and Spark extensively, so mastery of some of those tools and technologies is also helpful.

Instacart Reviews

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Instacart Founder Apoorva Mehta
Apoorva Mehta
145 Ratings
  • Featured Review

    Helpful (1)

    "Great team solving interesting problems"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Director in San Francisco, CA
    Current Employee - Director in San Francisco, CA
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at Instacart full-time (More than 3 years)

    Pros

    Great coworkers: Incredibly smart but also very humble & collaborative
    Interesting business: Really complex business where you work on interesting problems; truly are never bored!
    High Ownership: In my experience, most roles have a lot of ownership over business problems, meaning there's potential for really high impact

    Cons

    The downside of lots of ownership & hard problems is that work-life balance can struggle. Definitely not a cultural norm that is expected, but something that comes naturally at times in some projects

See All 1,754 Reviews

Instacart Photos

Instacart photo of: Welcome to Instacart! 🥕
Instacart photo of: Internal Speaker Series called "A Penne for your Thoughts"
Instacart photo of: Lettuce chat about our amazing conference rooms
Instacart photo of: We care a latte about coffee
Instacart photo of: Connecting over coffee
Instacart photo of: Team IT
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Instacart Interviews

Experience

Experience
47%
21%
32%

Getting an Interview

Getting an Interview
75%
10%
7%
4
2
2
0

Difficulty

2.1
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  1. Featured Interview

    Helpful (2)  

    IOS Engineer Interview

    Anonymous Employee in San Francisco, CA
    Accepted Offer
    Positive Experience
    Easy Interview

    Application

    I applied through an employee referral. The process took 2 weeks. I interviewed at Instacart (San Francisco, CA) in April 2018.

    Interview

    Long programming assignment before onsite (4 hrs.) Onsite is 4 interviews-- 2 iOS Specific and 2 non-tech and 1 lunch interview with 1-2 people. Very standard process compared to other companies in the Bay Area.

    Interview Questions

    • NDA, but a mobile app for the assignment and iOS Programming questions onsite. Standard behavioral questions.   Answer Question
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Instacart Awards & Accolades

  • Best of Philly(Best City Delivery), Philadelphia Magazine, 2014
  • Top Career Launching Company, Wealthfront, 2016

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