Instacart starts making grocery deliveries in Baltimore

Instacart grocery delivery service has arrived in Baltimore, with orders available a variety of retailers.

The grocery delivery service Instacart expanded into Baltimore on Thursday, giving shoppers a choice of ordering from Whole Foods Market, Price Rite, BJ's Wholesale Club, Petco, Safeway and Harris Teeter.

The service, available for home delivery in as little as one hour, is being offered in select areas to start, including Federal Hill, Locust Point, Fells Point, Canton, the Inner Harbor and elsewhere downtown.

The city is the 20th market for the San Francisco-based company, which relies on "personal shoppers" to pick and deliver items.

The service has been growing rapidly on the East Coast, and Baltimore made sense for expansion, said Apoorva Mehta, Instacart's founder and CEO.

Instacart deliveries are available in suburban Washington, including Bethesda, Chevy Chase, Silver Spring, Gaithersburg and Rockville, with many of the same retail partners as in the Baltimore area.

Instacart likely will compete with Peapod, the Chicago-based grocery delivery pioneer that is owned by the Dutch parent of Giant Food, and industry giant Amazon, which launched its one- and two-hour Prime Now service last year in many Baltimore neighborhoods and is making grocery deliveries through Amazon Fresh in a growing number of markets.

With Instacart, shoppers can order through a website or mobile app for iPhone or Android, select the city and store, add items to a virtual cart and then choose a delivery window — within one hour, within two hours or at another scheduled time. An Instacart personal shopper accepts the order on his or her smartphone, goes shopping and makes the delivery.

"Partnering with Instacart will provide our customers with a new way to shop and save time and money," said Neil Duffy, president of Price Rite.

Instacart started in San Francisco in 2012. The service has joined forces with national chains such as Whole Foods and Costco as well as local and regional grocers. Instacart is seen as a newer grocery delivery model in that it operates no warehouses of its own.

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