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Instacart and Publix roll out 15-minute grocery delivery in Miami

Service launches in 3 Miami neighborhoods, with more to come

15-minute delivery from Instacart and Publix has arrived in three Miami neighborhoods (Photo: Shutterstock)

In December, Instacart leaked its plans to offer 15-minute grocery delivery. A few months later, the company unveiled Carrot Warehouses, automated nano-fulfillment centers designed to power ultrafast delivery speeds. And now, it has its first adopter.

Regional grocer Publix, which boasts nearly 1,300 grocery stores spanning the American Southeast, will debut Instacart’s 15-minute delivery solution, Instacart announced this week. 

Publix on Thursday began delivering groceries to the Miami neighborhoods of Brickell, Wynwood and Coral Gables, leveraging Instacart’s network of Carrot Warehouses to keep delivery speeds within a quarter of an hour.

The move follows rival DoorDash’s rollout of a 15-minute grocery delivery pilot in New York City, where ultrafast delivery pioneers Jokr, Gorillas and Getir are based. The trio of startups has carved out a 15-minute delivery niche in the city. But Instacart represents the largest player so far to take up the rapid delivery mantle.

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“Instacart’s model is to empower retailers to better serve their customers. We’re taking the same approach by building Carrot Warehouses, a network of nano-fulfillment facilities that we operate on retailers’ behalf, to help retailers deliver unmatched speed and selection to their customers,” Daniel Danker, vice president of product at Instacart, said Thursday in a press release

“With today’s Miami launch,” he continued, “Publix is bringing 15-minute delivery to their customers for the first time. Whether it’s a last-minute dinner ingredient or parents needing a quick restock on diapers, we know Miamians seek convenience in their lives and we’re excited to collaborate with Publix to power it.”

Through the partnership, customers in Brickell, Wynwood and Coral Gables can have products including fresh produce, dairy, meat, household staples and more delivered to their homes in just a quarter of an hour.

This isn’t the first collaboration between Publix and Instacart. In 2016, the two companies introduced same-day grocery delivery in as little as one hour. And last month, Publix began using Instacart Platform — the company’s latest suite of grocery delivery solutions — to offer services like curbside pickup and delivery of specialty items like alcohol.

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Now, Instacart says the two have developed a “custom model” for 15-minute grocery delivery. It works much like the familiar hub-and-spoke model. Publix stores inventory at Instacart’s network of Carrot Warehouses in Miami — the hubs. Then, when customers place 15-minute grocery delivery orders through either Instacart or Publix, Instacart enlists its fleet of vehicles — the spokes — to deliver from the closest nano-fulfillment center.

The key to it all is the density of that nano-fulfillment network. The more Carrot Warehouses Instacart is able to stand up, the better it will be able to position Publix’s inventory near customers. That’s attractive for customers — and for Publix.

“As we continue to evolve our e-commerce strategy, 15-minute delivery is another example of how we’re committed to meeting our customers wherever they are — whether it’s in-store or online for a convenience need,” said Erik Katenkamp, vice president of omnichannel and application development at Publix. “Instacart’s suite of solutions allows us to unlock and roll out 15-minute delivery in a major metro area like Miami. Introducing nano-fulfillment centers powered by Instacart Platform is another step in our omnichannel strategy.”

But Miami is just the start. Last month, Instacart indicated that its 15-minute service would also arrive at Publix stores in Atlanta in the coming months. Publix also has store locations in Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia.

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Jack Daleo

Jack Daleo is a staff writer for Flying Magazine covering advanced air mobility, including everything from drones to unmanned aircraft systems to space travel — and a whole lot more. He spent close to two years reporting on drone delivery for FreightWaves, covering the biggest news and developments in the space and connecting with industry executives and experts. Jack is also a basketball aficionado, a frequent traveler and a lover of all things logistics.