Last Updated on 2024-03-13

A Comprehensive Guide to Working for Shipt: Application, Job Description, Pay, and More

We worked with these active, experienced gig-workers to write this article and bring you first-hand knowledge.

author image

James Tuliano

4 years of experience working across Shipt and DoorDash

author image

Catherine Meyers

5 years of experience working across Shipt and Instacart

author image

Phil Grossman

Experienced writer/researcher in the gig industry working alongside our gig-workers

The information provided in this post is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal, tax, or insurance advice. The content contains general information and may not reflect current legal developments or insurance changes. Any reader should consult with an insurance professional to obtain insurance advice tailored to their specific circumstances.

The gig economy is exploding, and more people than ever are considering finding a gig as a full-time job or a side hustle. 

If you’re one of the millions of people thinking of making that shift, there’s one question that’s almost definitely on your mind: “What app should I use?”

Between DoorDash, Instacart, Shipt, Uber, Spark, and more, there are a lot of options to choose from — you can even do more than one at a time, which means there are dozens of combinations too. 

Here, we’re going to give you a comprehensive look at one of those options: Shipt. Shipt has made a name for itself as something of a “boutique” delivery app, thanks in large part to its Preferred Shopper program and better-than-average base pay. It’s a great choice for a first step into the world of gig work, and by the end of this post, you’ll have a solid idea of whether Shipt is a good fit for you. 

Shipt isn’t as famous as other platforms, but it’s got a great reputation among those in the know

Shipt was founded in 2014 and was acquired by Target, the eighth-largest US retailer, in 2017. Shipt is a legitimate and reputable company owned by one of America’s most trusted brands. 

If you’ve only recently heard of Shipt (or if this is your first time hearing about it), that’s not surprising: Despite having the backing of a megalith like Target, Shipt has been more selective about which markets to enter than some of its competitors — maybe that selectivity is part of why it’s often able to offer better pay than similar apps. 

There are two distinct roles available with Shipt: Shoppers and Drivers

When you sign up for Shipt, you can choose between two entirely different roles:

Shoppers accept customer orders, shop for the items in local stores, and deliver those orders to their customers. It’s very similar to being an Instacart Shopper, in case you’re more familiar with that (read our post on Shipt vs. Instacart to see how they stack up). 

Drivers are dedicated delivery drivers — they don’t shop for items. Instead, they accept delivery routes, pick up packages, and deliver them. Overall, the Driver role is similar to being a mail carrier or UPS driver, but you get more control over your schedule. 

You can be both a Shopper and Driver, but you’ll need to apply for each separately. 

To learn more, check out our full post on the differences between Shipt Shoppers and Drivers

Shipt Shopper and Driver applications and the Shipt hiring process

All Shipt Shoppers and Drivers are self-employed, so it’s important to know that when you apply for Shipt, you’re not applying for a traditional job. 

When you work for Shipt, you’re essentially opening your own business and working as a freelancer. So, even though the hiring process is pretty similar to what you’d expect from a standard job, you’re not actually being hired in the traditional sense. 

You need to meet specific requirements to apply

Shipt’s Shopper and Driver requirements are pretty minimal, but you’ll be rejected if you don’t meet them.

The requirements for Shipt Shoppers are:

  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Have a valid current mailing address.
  • Have a valid U.S. driver’s license and auto insurance (must meet your state’s minimum requirements)
  • Have access to a reliable vehicle (1997 or newer)
  • Have knowledge of produce selection
  • Be able to lift 45 pounds
  • Have access to a smartphone - iPhone (iOS 10 or newer) or Android (5.1 or newer)

The Shipt driver requirements are exactly the same with one addition: two-door sedans aren’t allowed.

Keep in mind that you don’t need to own a car — renting and borrowing are allowed. But no matter whether you own the car or not, you must have the required car insurance coverage and be listed as a driver on the policy. 

Shipt’s vehicle requirements are pretty lax, but you do need to use a car — bikes, motorcycles, and other alternative vehicles are not allowed. 

There’s a background check

Shipt requires all its Shoppers and Drivers to consent to a background check. The check is conducted by Checkr, and it can take anywhere from just a few seconds to up to two weeks. The background check is looking primarily for criminal records, so if you have a clean record, you should pass without issue. 

If you have a criminal record or a felony record, you may still be accepted — background checks that show a criminal past are evaluated on a case-by-case basis, and there’s no way to know in advance whether you’ll be accepted or not. The only way to find out is to apply and see what happens. 

There’s no drug test, but you’re still expected to comply with all relevant laws and stay sober on the job. 

If you’re applying to be a Shopper, you’ll have to do an interview

Shipt requires all Shopper applicants to go through the Shipt interview. “Interview” is a bit of a misnomer though — it’s more similar to a short entrance exam. You’ll have to answer four multiple choice questions, two short written response questions (just a few sentences each), and make three very short videos telling Shipt about yourself. 

We’ve put together a guide to help you prepare for the Shipt interview, so make sure to check it out. 

What to know once you’re on the job

Once you’re hired, your experience will change based on whether you applied to be a Shopper or a Driver, but there are a bunch of things that will stay the same. 

You’ll need to follow Shipt’s rules

No matter whether you’re a Shopper or a Driver, you’ll need to follow Shipt’s rules. When you’re hired, you’ll be required to sign an agreement with Shipt that will outline them. Here are a few highlights to keep top of mind.

For Shoppers:

  • Customer rating: All Shipt Shoppers need to maintain a customer rating (the rating that your customers give you) above 4.7. That’s one of the most stringent requirements in the industry. If you fall below 4.7, you may have your account deactivated, which is the Shipt equivalent of getting fired. However, you’ll usually receive a warning first, and Shipt has expanded its rating forgiveness program. James Tuliano, who has four years of experience with Shipt and DoorDash, says, “they are usually pretty forgiving if you're just starting out, so not to stress if your first couple orders have some growing pains!”
  • Late orders: Shoppers are expected to deliver at least 90% of their orders on time. If you fall below this number, you may be deactivated. Shipt has a forgiveness program for late orders, but it’s harder to have late orders forgiven. Catherine Meyers , who has two years of experience with Shipt, says, “these are essentially NEVER forgiven. Orders are normally sent out pretty early, like 2-3 hours in advance, so it’s important to be mindful of how you’re spending your time and adding on orders.”
  • Shipt card: Shipt provides Shoppers with a physical credit card that is used to pay for prepaid orders. Never use your Shipt card for personal purchases — that will get you deactivated almost immediately. 
  • Stay sober on the job: Shipt doesn’t require drug tests, but you’re still expected to stay sober on the job. Make sure that, if you do use substances, you don’t let your substance usage interfere with your work, even if you’re not driving under the influence. If your car smells of weed, for example, that’s a problem too. 
  • Maintain a safe and hygienic vehicle: As a Shopper, you’ll be transporting customers’ groceries in your car. If your car isn’t clean, that could pose a health hazard to your customers. 
  • You need to shop alone: Unlike other gig apps, you’re not allowed to bring anyone with you while shopping. James adds, “I know folks that have gotten their account disabled because someone at the store reported them for shopping with their spouse/child. You cannot work on the app with someone else with you.”

Your Shipt Shopper or Driver app will be your home base

Whether you’re a Shopper or Driver, you’ll be spending a lot of time on the Shipt app, where you’ll accept orders or routes. This is also where you’ll request instant payments (we’ll cover that later on) and manage your account. 

To use the Shipt app, you’ll need a smartphone that runs either iOS 10 or newer or Android 5.1 or newer. 

Take advantage of the Shipt Preferred Shopper program

Shipt’s Preferred Shopper program is one of the features that sets Shipt apart from other delivery apps. As a Shipt Shopper, if you provide great service to your customers, they can add you to their list of preferred Shoppers. That means that when they place an order, it will get sent straight to their preferred Shoppers — you’ll get notified of the order even if you’re not logged into the app. If none of their preferred Shoppers accept the order, it will then move onto the open market, where other Shoppers can accept it. 

This turns Shipt into more of a long-term gig than its competitors: You have the opportunity to build up a list of clientele just like any other business would. In fact, many long-term Shipt Shoppers stop taking orders on the open market and rely entirely on their regulars. This makes Shipt a bit harder to break into for newcomers, but more rewarding once you’re established. 

Getting paid, filing taxes, and managing your finances

Once you’ve completed your first few orders, it’s time to get paid. Here’s what you need to know about how Shipt payments work, how to handle taxes, how much you can expect to earn, and how to deal with other financial concerns. 

Shipt’s payment structure

Shipt’s pay is divided into four categories:

Base pay is what Shipt pays for completing orders and deliveries. In the Shipt app, the base pay will show up as the estimated pay when a new order comes through. 

Tips are what customers give you at their discretion. You always get to keep 100% of your tips, but sometimes it can take a while for your tips to show up — customers can leave tips long after a delivery is completed, so sometimes a tip can appear even a month after a delivery.

Promos are extra pay that’s added onto orders that have been stuck in the queue because other Shoppers haven’t picked them up. Matthew Desmond, who has been doing Shipt part time for three years, says that most of the time these orders aren’t picked up because they’re coming from customers that experienced Shoppers know to be “non-tippers, lowball tippers or serial poor raters.”

Bonuses are similar to promos — they give you additional pay for completing orders during a promotional period. Matthew says, “bonuses are almost never worth chasing, and it should be pointed out that as you are showing what you are willing to do for a bonus, the algorithm will make the order number higher.”

The formula for Shipt earnings is:

Earnings = Base Pay + Tips + Promos + Bonuses

Shipt pays weekly, but you can use Instant Pay to get paid daily (for a small fee)

Every week, your Shipt earnings will be paid out automatically via direct deposit. If you need your money faster, you can use Shipt’s Instant Pay feature to get it right away instead. 

There are a few restrictions on Instant Pay. Most importantly, you can’t withdraw over $500 at once, there’s a $0.49 fee per transaction, and you can only make a withdrawal once per 24-hour cycle, which resets at 8 p.m. EST. 

To learn more about how Shipt pays and how Shipt Instant Pay works, check out our full posts on them. 

Shipt is self-employment, so taxes work differently

When you work for Shipt, you’re considered a self-employed independent contractor, not an employee. That changes things from a tax perspective: You’ll be required to pay quarterly estimated taxes, and your tax rate will likely be a bit higher due to self-employment taxes. 

On the bright side, you can write off your expenses, like gas and mileage, as tax deductions, which can lower your tax burden. 

Taxes are a deep and complex subject, so make sure you check out our full post on how taxes on Shipt income work

You won’t get traditional benefits, like health insurance, but there are some perks

Since Shoppers and Drivers aren’t employees, you’re not eligible for typical employee benefits, like health insurance — that means you’ll have to find and pay for your own health coverage. 

Shipt does offer over 15 different perks though, and even though they aren’t as substantial as traditional benefits, they are nice to have. For example, Shipt is partnered with HealthSherpa, which helps Shoppers and Drivers find affordable health insurance plans. 

Other perks include cash back on gas purchases, discounts on mental health services from BetterHelp, a free membership to the Shipt app for your own personal orders (a $99 value), and a 50% discount on TaxSlayer (a tax preparation tool). 

You can find a full list of all Shipt’s perks in our full post on Shipt benefits

How much do Shipt Shoppers make?

In 2022, Shipt set out new earnings standards that said Shoppers are guaranteed at least $16/hour. For the most part, you can rely on this as an earnings baseline, but it doesn’t always work out that way — some Shoppers have reported they make less than $16/hour on some days. 

In our full post on Shopper earnings, we asked three of our Gig Pros, James Tuliano, Joshua Merrit, and Catherine Meyers, how much they average on an hourly basis. The average earnings for the three of them came to $37.18/hour, with a range from $29.30/hour to $46.93/hour. 

How Shipt stacks up to other delivery apps

Shipt’s main competitor is Instacart — both of them offer grocery delivery as their main service. Overall, our Gig Pros that have worked with both Shipt and Instacart reported that Shipt is more of a “boutique” service thanks to its Preferred Shopper program, it tends to pay better, and it provides more long-term growth opportunities.

Instacart, however, does have some advantages: you can see your tips upfront before accepting an order, and it’s a bit easier to break into. 

DoorDash has recently started expanding into grocery delivery, but its main service is restaurant delivery. Most of the same points about Shipt and Instacart apply to DoorDash as well. But DoorDash does have one major advantage over Shipt: you can use alternative vehicles, like bikes, motorcycles, and scooters.

Neither DoorDash nor Instacart offers anything equivalent to the services provided by Shipt Drivers, so that’s another point of difference. 

Catherine says, “if you’re not in a Target-heavy area, you’re basically not getting orders. Shipt also seems to have less access to stores around me as far as I’ve noticed. Instacart has a wider variety of stores to shop from and even smaller local chains - I’m in a highly Latino/Hispanic area so there are grocerías like Northgate Market and El Super that are on Instacart, whereas Shipt is limited to specific big box stores or huge national grocery chains like Ralph’s/Kroger, Target, etc. Instacart has a tiny bit more flexibility in what’s available to you on the map compared to Shipt, so for me, that translates to a little busier.”

To learn more, check out our full comparison of Shipt vs. Instacart and our comparison of Shipt vs. DoorDash

Get started

Can you see yourself as a Shipt Shopper or Driver? Read about the differences or apply now to be a Shopper or Driver.

Keep Learning...