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Unilever makes ice cream delivery available nationwide on Instacart

The Ice Cream Shop is expanding from select cities to the entire US.

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The Ice Cream Shop on Instacart. (Courtesy photo)

It’s rare that the end of summer brings news about ice cream availability getting wider, but that’s the case in a partnership announced on Thursday.

Unilever is expanding an on-demand ice cream delivery service nationwide through a new partnership with grocery tech company Instacart.

With a wide variety of brands in its freezer, Unilever says it is the world’s largest ice cream company. To offer delivery, it launched The Ice Cream Shop, an app-based delivery service available in major metro areas that has grown via partnership.

“We’re thrilled that our new partnership with Instacart expands The Ice Cream Shop’s virtual storefront to a nationwide scale,” said Daan Westdijk, heads of sales and category strategy for North American ice cream at Unilever. “Since 2018, The Ice Cream Shop has offered convenient delivery to ice cream fans in major cities including New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, and now thanks to our expanded partnership with Instacart, we can build upon our vision of delivering smiles to even more doorsteps across the US.”

The Ice Cream Shop will be accessible through Instacart’s grocery delivery platform. Shoppers can browse flavors from brands such as Ben & Jerry’s, Breyers, Good Humor, Klondike, Magnum ice cream, Popsicle and Talenti. The flavors can also be sorted by categories, such as best sellers, chocolate & vanilla or chunks & swirls.

Now that it is available through Instacart, The Ice Cream Shop’s service area will extend throughout the United States, as ice cream is delivered to customers from nearby locations. Delivery, which will be executed through Instacart's team and logistics, is available in as little as 30 minutes, according to the companies.

a phone open to The Ice Cream Shop.

The Ice Cream Shop on Instacart's app. (Courtesy of Unilever)

It’s the latest delivery innovation for The Ice Cream Shop, which aims to sweeten the experience for online grocery shoppers by bringing ice cream to a customer’s door without letting it melt, and make the road to delivery of frozen goods less rocky in the process.

Earlier this summer, The Ice Cream Shop launched a pilot in Los Angeles to deliver ice cream through the mobile convenience store service Robomart that deployed mobile convenience trucks carrying ice cream to customer doorsteps. In a digital update to the typical ice cream truck experience, shoppers were able to swipe to open the truck and pick out their ice cream.

The ice cream was flown to customers in a separate pilot. In North Carolina and Texas, Unilever teamed with the drone delivery service Flytrex to ferry pints to customers’ backyards in under three minutes.

Delivery via Robomart and drone will not be available to customers that order through Instacart. However, a spokesperson said The Ice Cream Shop team remains excited about those delivery options and continues to look for new, innovative ways to shorten delivery time and increase availability of the ice cream it offers.

Perhaps the most pertinent recent development to this partnership was a new feature that launched on the Instacart platform in recent weeks. With the introduction of Carts, the company said it was rolling out a push to transform the platform into an experience that is fueled by inspirational shopping. Carts allow users to shop from the grocery orders of celebrities, or pick orders based on specific themes. It's one of a number of branded and shoppable experiences rolling out with partners throughout the marketplace.

This points at how Instacart is seeking to build around shoppable experiences. A feature like Carts is based around meeting customers' wants rather than needs, so it benefits from being able to deliver everyone’s favorites. It’s easy to see ice cream – and The Ice Cream Shop – mixing right into this approach. In fact, we spotted a Ben & Jerry's pint in Lizzo's Cart at launch:

a phone open to Lizzo's Cart.

(Photo courtesy of Instacart)

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