H-E-B employee of 7 years Nolan Barrera walks by the refrigerated beverage coolers. Photo by Scott Ball.
H-E-B employee of seven years Nolan Barrera walks by the refrigerated beverage coolers. Photo by Scott Ball.

H-E-B will formally enter the on-demand delivery world this month when the San Antonio-based grocery giant and its partners Shipt and Instacart will release teams of personal shoppers who will “hand-select” and deliver groceries to San Antonio customers in as little as one hour or on demand at scheduled times.

The services will only be available in some parts of the city at the outset, but are expected to expand soon after the initial launch.

Instacart, based in San Francisco with operations in more than 15 states and dozens of cities, will begin its delivery service on Thursday to select zip codes in San Antonio from area stores, including H-E-B, Central Market, Whole Foods, Costco, Total Wine & More, Specs, and Petco. Instacart has worked out a deal with Costco so that customers using the platform do not have to be members to shop there.

Shipt, a membership-based service based in Birmingham, AL, will work exclusively with H-E-B and Central Market starting on Wednesday, May 25.

Instacart already operates in 10 Texas cities. Shipt operates in Dallas, and San Antonio will be its 25th city nationwide.

“We’ve been waiting on San Antonio,” said Chad Shepler, Instacart Texas general manager, “waiting for our partners, the city and the demographics to make great sense.”

Screenshot via Instacart.com
Instacart will be live in San Antonio on Thursday, May 12.

The mobile-friendly platforms allow customers to select items on their grocery lists – from green peppers to pork tenderloin to toilet paper, down to the brand and quantity – and either schedule a time for contracted drivers to drop off their items or pay extra for an ASAP delivery.

There is a minimum order size of $35 for both Instacart and Shipt, so customers with orders under that amount will have to pay a fee if their total doesn’t reach that threshold.

Shipt’s model is based on membership. Customers receive unlimited grocery deliveries for an annual fee of $99 or a monthly fee of $14. According to a news release sent by H-E-B, customers who sign up for an annual membership with Shipt before May 25 will receive $50 in grocery credit.

Instacart is a per-order service that charges $5.99 for scheduled orders with two hours notice or $7.99 for one-hour deliveries. Customers can create a user profile on Instacart now and start scheduling orders for opening day on Thursday. The delivery windows typically open at 8 a.m., are open 7 days a week, and close between 10-11 p.m., depending on the grocer.

Shipt and Instacart join several other technology-driven answers to restaurant and general item delivery in San Antonio including PostmatesThe Bike Waiter, Favor, GrubHub, Getly, Amazon Prime and more.

What makes Instacart unique, Shepler said, it specializes in the “hardest category first: time sensitive perishables (and) we’ve spent a lot of time to create a deep partnership with carriers (stores).”

On the back-end of Instacart, more than 300 employees in San Francisco are working to make sure it functions smoothly: that inventory lists, pricing, and other data sets are updated.

Instacart’s initial delivery footprint will include much of the Northside of San Antonio from just north of downtown to Loop 1604 including suburban municipalities like Alamo Heights and Terrill Hills within the 78212, 78209, 78213, 78216, 78230, 78231, 78248, 78232, and 78258 zip codes. Addresses in these neighborhoods can sign now for deliveries on Thursday.

“Once we get our feet wet,” Instacart will be expanding its service areas as well as looking into partnering with smaller local grocers and stores to broaden its reach and offerings, Shepler said. “Within months or weeks we could launch into different zip codes, it depends on how the demand goes.”

The H-E-B Plus location at Bandera and Loop 1604 also will be launching a curbside pick-up program in May through its hebtoyou.com website. Orders received by 1 p.m. will be ready for pick-up in time for dinner.

“H-E-B strives to provide customers not only with quality products at affordable prices, but also with innovative and convenient services,” stated Greg Souquette, senior vice president and general manager of San Antonio operations at H-E-B in a Monday news release. “Partnerships with companies like Shipt and Instacart allow us to offer a shopping experience to fit the needs of our customers looking for time-saving solutions.”

More than 50,000 products are already available for purchase through heb.com that can be delivered throughout the U.S. – save for California – and military bases worldwide.


Top image: H-E-B employee of seven years Nolan Barrera walks by the refrigerated beverage coolers in H-E-B’s South Flores Market. Photo by Scott Ball. 

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Iris Dimmick

Senior Reporter Iris Dimmick covers public policy pertaining to social issues, ranging from affordable housing and economic disparity to policing reform and workforce development. Contact her at iris@sareport.org