Food on demand: Canadian grocery delivery service Instabuggy launches in Metro Vancouver

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      Instabuggy, a Toronto-based grocery delivery service, has launched in Metro Vancouver, offering residents an assortment of on-demand produce, meat and seafood, snacks, packaged meals, and other goods that they can have at their door in as little as hour.

      Operating in Vancouver, Burnaby, Richmond, and New Westminster, the service works with Costco (no membership required), PetSmart, Rexall, and Organic Natural Market, from which customers can shop everything from fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables, to eggs, bread, and cheese, to pet food and supplies from the comfort of their own homes. Personal-care items, like soap, dry shampoo, and mouthwash, and household goods, such as paper towels, Kleenex, and dishwasher detergent pods, are also available.  

      Orders are placed online or via Instabuggy’s mobile app. Customers pay what they would pay in-store for the products—including any applicable sale prices—though a $19.98 picking, packing, and delivery fee is included on all requests. Once orders have been placed, Instabuggy’s personal shoppers visit the indicated stores and hand-deliver the goods in either boxes or reusable bags. Deliveries are available between 11 a.m. and 9 p.m. daily.

      Julian Gleizer, Instabuggy cofounder and CEO, hopes to partner with more retailers—including public or private liquor stores, if possible—as the service grows in B.C. Launched in the Greater Toronto Area in 2015, Instabuggy works with over a dozen grocers, as well as the LCBO, in that region and Ottawa.

      “It just provides more choice for the retailer,” Gleizer, who developed the service when he saw a need in the market, tells the Straight by phone.

      While grocery-delivery services are plentiful in the States, the few operating in Canada run primarily in Ontario. Gleizer hopes that, by moving west, he can help Canadians better manage their time by taking care of one common task.

      By employing a team of personal shoppers who work closely with customers, Instabuggy also aims to develop trust and relationships with users that will keep them coming back. (During the Straight’s test-run of the service, our shopper, Terrance, kindly called to inform us that Costco was out of the Cheetos we had requested. He then offered some alternatives before coming through with a bag of Miss Vickies Sea Salt & Malt Vinegar.)      

      “It’s convenient,” says Gleizer, “but even more so, it’s about allowing the consumer to buy their time back which is one of the most precious things today.”

      According to Gleizer—and our brief conversation with Terrance, who was transferred from Toronto to assist with the West Coast launch, when he arrived with our delivery—Instabuggy has been going gangbusters in Ontario since its introduction almost three years ago. Gleizer is hoping to replicate that success in B.C. before expanding further.

      “We’ve had a lot of interest that has been coming in from the last 12 months, from British Columbia, from Vancouver,” he says.