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10 Items Every Postmates Courier and Instacart Shopper Needs

10 Items Every Postmates Courier and Instacart Shopper Needs

I have complied a list of things that many Postmates Courier and Instacart Shopper needs. I have two cars and sometimes I don’t have some of these things when I switch cars with my wife so I know how much of an issue it is when I don’t have the proper items in my car when I deliver for Postmates or shop on Instacart.

The current signup bonus for Postmates Courier is currently up to $250 after 40 deliveries while it is $500 after your first 40 hours with Instacart.

The most important thing are accessories for your cell phone. You are always interacting with your smartphone when you work as a Postmates Courier or Instacart shopper, so mounting it where it is visible and charging it are the most important things to have in your car. Since you spend a good deal of time on your phone but away from the car, its advisable to bring along a portable cell phone charger to keep it topped up. On my first day as an Instacart shopper, my cell phone battery levels were down to about 20% after a 6 hour shift, even with plugging in my phone every time I was in the car. It still wasn’t enough since I was doing so much shopping at various supermarkets. I also got a magnetic smartphone charging cable since I was in and out of my car so often that it was much easier to use and eliminate the risk of damaging the USB connector.

The next most important item are the insulated bags. Postmates and Uber Eats gives you a free one, but every once in a while I get an order for pizza which never fits into one of those bags. I picked up a Insulated Pizza Delivery Bag off of Amazon and now I can better carry pizza and it was only $20. See below for what I found on Amazon.

As an Instacart Shopper, I quickly got orders that needed multiple trips to deliver. I started researching for carts and this is the one I found to be the most helpful.

For Postmates, they allow both cars and bicycles to be on the platform in most markets, so the first part of the list will be for drivers and the second part will be for bicycle couriers. Bicycle couriers have different needs mainly because bicycles off the shelf don’t normally have room to carry groceries. I offered up a few suggestions on how to solve that problem, but some people get by with the Postmates insulated bag on the handle bars. Drinks can be a hassle, but some couriers put it in a box to keep them upright and then try to seal the top of the drinks to prevent spills.

The rest of the items are for emergencies, like spills, vomit, dead car battery and flat tires. I think every driver needs these items whether or not they work as a Postmates Courier or an Instacart shopper since it sucks being stranded on the side of the road and you need to wait for help. AAA does a great job but it can take up to 3 hours for them to come, whereas anyone can change a tire in under an hour (normally 20 minutes). I would consider these items optional since I rarely have to use it.

Deliver Drivers

  1. Magnetic Charging Cable – This eliminates the hassle of disconnecting the phone every time you step out of your car. This is a great product and I use it everyday now, even at home. I have to mention that the retention force isn’t as strong as the USB connector and there may be times when it isn’t connected properly when you nudge the connector. It has always stayed charged in the car, as long as you don’t inadvertently touch the connector. The phone needs to be mounted somewhere safe in the car to use this. If you have the phone on the seat or on your lap, the connector will disconnect at some point.
  2. Cellphone mount – I personally use a vent clip while others stick it on the windshield. I like having full view of my windshield, but others noted that vent clips damage the vents. Either way, you need to get one. [Update: A Facebook user commented that he uses a CD mount clip, which I thought is a pretty good idea. I have added a link to the most popular one below.] I have on occasion driven with the phone in my lap or down near my gear shift and its not very convenient and gets very annoying after an hour or so. Its also pretty dangerous to be driving while looking at your phone on your lap. Here are the ones I use:
  3. USB charger – GPS, Google maps and the Uber/Lyft app uses a bit of power so you need to keep your phone charged. The old Uber iPhone 4s can get about 3 hours of use on a full charge so you can survive without one if you’re only doing a few rides. However, consider your battery life shot if you drive for a few hours since there won’t be much battery left. I’ve tried a few from Amazon and none of them worked real well until I found this one. My friend has a 4-port version but I just use the 2 port to keep it small. Also, the multi-connector USB cable is very handy for Uber and Lyft. You can charge almost any phone with just one cable (no more multiple cables)
  4. Portable charger – this can be useful for deliver drivers since you can spend so much time outside your car when you are shopping for groceries or waiting for your order. It is absolutely crucial for couriers on bicycles, motorcycles and scooters. I highly recommend the one below since that is the one I have. It has two USB ports. 10,000mAh is a bit overkill but sometimes I don’t have it fully charged and it can easily charge up my phone a few times before it gets to low. I can easily drain my cell phone 3x on the same day if I am heavily using it, so 10,000mAh is a good fit. A normal smart phone has a charge of about 2500mAh, so 10,000 is enough to charge one phone 4x. Remember that the battery charger degrades over time so it is nice to have a bit of a cushion. There are also some solar chargers that is also interesting. You can use it when your car isn’t on or tied to your backpack to increase the battery’s life. The solar panel won’t charge it in record time. It is only used for emergencies and for topping off when you are not using it. Some users noted success with leaving it on the dashboard of the car during the day.
  5. Collapsible Hand Truck – this is very useful for any Instacart shopper. I once had to deliver 16 1-gallon jugs of water from Whole Foods. Luckily I was delivering it just 10 feet from the car, but large orders can happen outside of Costco orders. This is really useful only for Instacart shoppers as Postmates and Uber Eats deliveries don’t normally deliver this much food. I also found that getting a crate to hold either groceries or Costco items to be very useful and eliminates an additional trip. The crates collapse so you can easily store it in your car.
    • Collapsible Hand Truck – Multi-Position Hand Truck
    • Collapsible Crates – 62 Liter Collapsible Crate – they come in various sizes from 34 liters up to 62 liters. They are not tall enough to double stack with paper grocery bags though so beware. You can probably get away with one stack and then putting a few lighter bags on top.
  6. Hot and Cold Insulated Bags – Postmates usually provides couriers with one while you usually use the paper bags provided by the store with Instacart. In the heat of the summer, it pays to have it in an Insulated Bag. There are two types. The one Postmates and Uber Eats give out are just passive insulated bags. The other kind is the one you can plug into your car and can keep things cold or hot from the 12V DC car source. Here are the best ones I found:
  7. Ear buds with microphone – there will be times when you need to contact the customer and this will keep your hands free to continue to shop or hold things while you talk to your customer. The one I suggested below has a microphone but no volume control of your smartphone. If you want one, make sure to buy the correct one for your phone, whether it is Android or Apple. They have different configurations so the same ear bud volume controls won’t work for both. I would advise against getting earphones since it may look unprofessional.
  8. Drink Carrier – if you have more than 2 drinks, the store will usually provide you with a drink holder. In case they don’t give you one, you can use this to keep your drinks upright and prevent them from spilling. You can also pick up some free ones from Starbucks as well:
  9. All season floor mats – these will keep your carpet cleaner and makes it much easier to clean and I’m not afraid to put groceries or food right on the car floor. I generally get the OEM all season mats right off of Amazon or Ebay and usually cheaper than when you get it from a dealer. Sometimes you can get lucky on Craigslist if you have a very popular car. I got an entire set for about $80 each for both of my cars (one on Amazon, one off Ebay from a car dealer in Texas). WeatherTech is a solid brand for floor mats, but they are pricey, running about $200 for the front and rear floor mats. Sometimes you can find them at car dealerships at a discount in the spring. Make sure to install it properly and it the floor mat should be hooked into the car interior floor with clips, not over any other floor mat. Avoid getting the generic one-size fits all types. They often aren’t that good and tends to move around a lot if its loose.
  10. Paper towels and tissues – you never when you will spill something, especially coffee. Either way its good to have.
  11. Car Emergency Supplies and Tools:
    1. Tire inflator and pressure gauge – these things are pretty cheap, small and runs off of your cigarette light adapter. I usually use it twice a year, once when it gets colder outside and the tire pressure dips a few PSI, and then in the spring when I am changing out my winter tires to my summer tires. It is very handy to keep in the car and small enough that you can put it in your trunk without using up much space. I also have a cheap pressure gauge that you can get at any gas station or car parts store like Auto-zone or Advanced Auto. Here is the tire inflator I have:
    2. Spare tire or flat kit and car tool kit – most cars now a days come with a fix-a-flat kit and a tire compressor (standard on BMWs) as they come with run flat tires. Make sure you know how to use one of these. Many cars still have the option to put in a donut (small temporary tire) or even a full size tire so if you feel better about changing a flat rather than using fix-a-flat, then you can get a cheap used OEM rim and a new tire and you’re good to go. Usually it runs about 300-500 bucks, which is similar to a cheap spare tire kit from the dealer. There are some downsides to Fix-a-flat so make sure to read up on it before you use it. Usually, you will need to replace the tire after using a fix-a-flat on it, whereas normally you could patch a flat tire.
      A car tool kit is handy in case you need to remove a hub cap or pry something open.
    3. Jumper cables and/or a portable battery jump pack – My old car had corroded battery terminals so my car had a very hard time starting once a month or so. So I bought this portable battery pack and would have to jump start my car every now and then. (The solution was to pour hot water over it, removing the mineral deposits that was causing the battery issue.) It also came in handy when my dad left my hazard lights on when he parked and drained my battery. I had to come by and jump start the car. Random battery issues can happen, especially in the winter so its great to either have a battery pack (make sure to charge it every so often) or have jumper cables so you can get a jump start or help others in need. If your battery terminals look clean and changed your battery within the past few years, you should be fine. Also, this jump starter pack has a built in compressor. It is a bit more convenient than having to plug in the tire inflator that runs off of the cigarette adapter.

Bicycle Couriers

If you are thinking about being a bicycle courier, rest assured that the various applications have a limit on delivery distance. Postmates is 3 miles while Caviar is 5 miles. Caviar claims that the distance is usually much less than 5 miles but it would be at most 5 miles.

  1. Bicycle – I would recommend using anything you already have. Don’t go out and buy a fancy bike just for deliveries. Your priorities may change so stick to what you already have and adapt to deliveries. In cities with Bike Share (like Citi bikes in New York City), use those instead! Typically, you pay a membership fee and the first 30-60 minutes is free, depending on the city.
    1. A flat handlebar bicycle like mountain bikes or hybrids would work better than a road bike with drop bars. The flat handlebar makes it easier to steer with one hand and inside the city. If you have drop bars (like a fixie, track, single speed, or road bike), make sure to get a back pack. It is difficult to hang something off of a drop bar. It is entirely possible, just difficult to ride with something on a drop bar.
    2. Many couriers I see wear a giant bicycle bag on their back so you don’t need any kind of cargo attachment. However, some couriers use cargo attachments because it is what they prefer. Its all about personal preference.
    3. Drinks will be tricky though and some resort to either holding it in their hand or putting it in a bag and hanging it off the handle bars.
    4. You should always be riding with a bicycle helmet.
  2. Cargo Rack – there are two main kinds of cargo racks, the ones in the front of the bicycle (like a basket) or a rear rack. Its all about personal preference. With the front rack, you can see the food and drinks while the back rack frees up your handlebars somewhat. This is mainly to give you an idea of what is available, but again many couriers get away with just a back pack.
    • Front Bicycle Basket – Front Handlebar Bicycle Basket
    • There are many kinds of rear racks but here are three different types to check out. The Seapost rack is very easy to take on/off for the occasional courier but doesn’t support a lot of weight. There is a bigger version of the seatpost rack that attaches to the rear stays. Then there is the full blown rear rack that will handle panniers bags. The full blown rear rack is often cheaper than other alternatives and holds more. Unfortunately it is a bit unslightly and can be difficult to remove so many people keep it on their bicycles:
  3. Bicycle Bag – Bicycle bags range from back packs to panniers. If you are a Caviar courier, they sell a bicycle specific one for around $40 and it is slightly nicer than the back pack listed below.  Note that these are not waterproof, but water resistant. Keep that in mind when it rains. There are also waterproof bags but they are not insulated. Here are some others I found that would be helpful
    • Small Food Delivery Insulated Backpack – I just got this back pack so I am going to give it a try over the next few weeks. There is also a larger one (Large Food Delivery Insulated Backpack) available for another $10 more. This can be used with the rear seatpost racks as well. The larger bag will be better suited for a seatpost mount, but make sure to properly secure the bag to the seatpost rack to prevent it from falling off your bicycle or having it stolen when you are picking up the food.
    • Insulated Pannier Bags – This requires the full rear rack for your bicycle. The seatpost rack will not prevent the panniers from rubbing against your rear wheel and it will have a tendency to sway and move around without the rear rack.
  4. Portable charger – This is absolutely crucial for couriers on bicycles, motorcycles and scooters since there is almost no way to charge your phone otherwise. I think the 10000mAh is a good size for bicycle couriers, but you may need a 20,000mAh charger if you start running out of power towards the end of the day.
  5. Ear buds with microphone – there will be times when you need to contact the customer and this will keep your hands free to continue to shop or hold things while you talk to your customer. I would use caution when using it on a bicycle. If you use it on the bicycle, only have one earbud in so you can still hear the things around you. The button on the earbuds will allow you to accept calls. I would not recommend getting a bluetooth earpiece since I literally lost one just last week riding my bicycle.
  6. Bicycle Locks – depending on the city you live in, there will be various levels of threat. You have the smaller cities where bicycle theft isn’t common, so you can resort to light security. There are cities like New York City where you need to lock the entire bicycle to a Police Station. If you have a fixed gear/single speed/track bicycle, you may not need to worry that much about your wheels since they are usually held in with hex nuts and make it a bit more difficult to pry out or take off without wrenches. Here are the various combinations of locks to consider:
    1. Hex Nut Bike Skewer – this will prevent your rear wheel from getting stolen. This will also free you to lock up just your frame so you can be in and out quicker than if you had to lock the entire bike down. Prevention is the key word. I have heard that wheels were still stolen when using this since the theft pried really heard and the wheel slipped off. However, it may be enough of a deterrent for you to pick up the delivery.
    2. Locking Skewer – It is similar to rim locks for your car, but they are for your bicycle. Again, a determined thief can pry the wheels off of the bicycle and some of these skewers have generic keys (not specifically keyed).
    3. Bicycle U Lock – Once you lock down your wheels with hex key bike skewers, you can just lock your frame. You can get away with a smaller U-Lock. The mini 5-inch can lock down your rear wheel and frame, while the 7-inch can go around larger pole. A cable with a U-lock is something to consider as well if you need to lock both wheels with a U-lock/chain. If you are getting Kryptonite brand locks, make sure to get the Orange or Yellow one! I’ve read bad reviews about the cheaper grey or black ones. They are not as secure as the orange or yellow locks.
  7. Bicycle Tool Kit – These items should be with you at all times when you ride a bicycle. You never know what you may need to adjust in the middle of your day or if you get a flat in the middle of the day. It is also recommended that you learn how to replace your inner tube when you have a flat tire. The tire pry rods will help a lot, but the CO2 kit will help inflate the tire back up.
  8. Bicycle Tires – there are now so many to choose from, but I would personally recommend getting one that is resistant to punctures so that you don’t get a flat tire in the middle of your day. This also requires that you check your tire pressure and inflate to the proper tire pressure everyday. When a bicycle tire is low on pressure and hits a pothole, it is likely to burst and cause a flat tire, so make sure it is properly inflated. It is also more efficient if your tires are properly inflated.
  9. Bicycle Cleaning Kit – you will need to keep your bicycle well maintained if you want your bicycle to last, especially if you plan on riding in the rain and snow. Keeping a clean chain will keep the rest of your components clean and also your clothing. I typically use citrus grease remover that you can find any supermarket in the cleaning kit and then wipe down and then lubricate with a wax based bicycle lubricant (see below)
  10. Bicycle Lubrication – ever since I ride year-round (even in the snow in Boston), I have switched to using a bicycle specific wax to lubricate my chain and cables. This is the one I always use:

Is there anything else you use on a daily basis that isn’t on this list? Leave a comment or send me an email at ridesharedashboard at gmail!

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