It's kind of like Uber, but for groceries.

For Grand Junction residents who can't quite get to the grocery store, need help shopping or just plain don't want to go, they will soon have the chance to do their shopping online and just wait for delivery.

Instacart, a company that allows someone to shop and pay for their groceries online at instacart.com or through a phone app, is launching in Grand Junction on Thursday with customers able to shop virtually at Safeway, Sprouts and Natural Grocers.

The company will also employ contractors who will be paid to shop for groceries and deliver them to homes. The customers will have paid for the groceries online and Instacart will dispatch a shopper to the grocery store to fill the order. The shopper will have a credit card loaded with the appropriate amount of money and is then paid a commission based on the order.

Customers can select a timeframe of delivery within an hour, two hours or select a window of delivery. Costs for delivery vary depending on how much is bought and the timeframe selected.

When getting started, customers can enter their ZIP code on the website or app to make sure Instacart will deliver to their home. They can then pick their desired grocer and shop for items. The account will save the customer's previous shopping lists.

The delivery area will cover 49,000 households in Grand Junction, Orchard Mesa, Fruitvale, Appleton, Redlands and Palisade. The company also plans to bring on more than 100 contracted shoppers to perform deliveries, with some already on board.

Instacart is the latest technology to hit the Grand Valley regarding grocery shopping. Walmart first launched a curbside pickup option in 2016 while Sam's Club and the City Market on 24 Road have also added the option. Instacart, however, takes it to the next level where the customer does not need to leave their home.

Instacart Operations Manager Jessica Murdock said the option is ideal for people on the go who may not have time to run to the store. She added that it can lead to healthier eating that is less expensive as people are less prone to make impulse buys.

"I think, in general, this sort of e-commerce online grocery service is just getting a lot more attention really," Murdock said. "People are realizing it's an option."

Instacart is based in San Francisco and launched in 2012. Since then, it has made its way to nearly 200 markets across the U.S. and Canada and is also available in Colorado cities such as Denver, Boulder, Colorado Springs and Fort Collins.

"Grand Junction was the logical next step for us," Murdock said.

The local launch will coincide with Sprouts partnering with Instacart in Colorado for the first time. Sprouts spokeswoman Kalia Prang said the grocer is continually looking at ways to engage with customers and integrate digital and mobile strategies into the business.

"We've seen an increasing number of customers in the area looking for convenient shopping options to fit their busy lifestyles, as well as a growing interest in health and value, which makes delivery from Sprouts a natural fit," Prang said.

Natural Grocers Director of Special Projects Alan Lewis said the company has been working with Instacart in other markets for a few years. He believes it's been good for elderly customers or those with physical disabilities.

He added that prices on the site are the same as in the store and he encourages shoppers to give it a try.

"Instacart bridges this gap so healthy fresh food and quality dietary supplements are available to anyone with just a few clicks online," he said.

Locally, Grand Junction-area Natural Grocers Manager Rene Cox echoed Lewis and believes that Instacart will be popular with older customers who might need help doing their shopping.

"This gives them another option," Cox said. "It's a great opportunity to serve different populations."

Some customers aren't so sure if they'd use it, however, as they might not be ready to let someone else pick out their fruit, among other things.

Natural Grocers customer Marilyn Jacquez said she would consider using it if she was pressed for time or ill, but she still enjoys her time at the grocery store and the interactions with staff and other customers.

"I do like to come and look around," she said. "There's something about online, you can't see the full picture, but it might come in handy."

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