Instacart adds two new features to speed up grocery delivery

Grocery delivery service Instacart has formally announced two new features that'll help users get the groceries they ordered. The company has been testing these features, meaning there's a chance you already had access to them. With the new 'Fast & Flexible' option, Instacart customers get paired up with available shoppers in real-time; this is joined by a new 'order ahead' feature, as well.

Instacart is a gig economy service that offers shoppers and delivery drivers a small bit of money in exchange for buying groceries on behalf of customers, then bringing them to their doorstep. The service has thus far allowed users to pick when they want the order to arrive — that is, they can choose the date and general time frame.

There's an obvious purpose for that: you'll know when you expect your groceries and will be available to receive them when they arrive. Many people are now spending most of their time indoors, however, meaning they are available to receive their order whenever it happens to be ready. That's where the new 'Fast and Flexible' option comes in.

With this feature, Instacart users are able to choose to receive their order within a certain broad timeframe spread over multiple days. The order will go to the available shopper at the selected store based on real-time availability, enabling the service to more efficiently distribute and deliver online orders.

The company has also extended its 'order ahead' feature so that users can place orders for delivery up to two weeks ahead of when they actually need it. This feature will be available to users in North America over 'coming weeks,' according to the company, which says that users can also choose contact-free deliveries, including for alcohol, set a default tip, and more.