Cheap groceries, free delivery, on your the doorstep in 10 to 20 minutes. Fast-track grocery services have sprung up like weeds during the pandemic with players pulling out all the stops to tempt in shoppers.
At least seven key players are vying for dominance in the UK. Most are currently focused on London, with only Weezy, Fancy and Gorillas venturing outside the capital so far. But all the major players, who also include Getir, Dija, Zapp and Jiffy, are planning to expand into new cities this year with Manchester, Birmingham, Bristol and beyond in their sights.
Jiffy and Getir are both aiming to open more than 90 hubs across the country with Dija is aiming for every major city by the end of the year.
Expansion is being pumped up by $14bn (£9.8bn) of investment into this hot new market globally since the beginning of the pandemic, according to financial industry analysts PitchBook. Getir’s latest funding round valued the Turkish company at $2.6bn, Gorillas has splashed out on a major television advertising campaign.
Online supermarket orders and deliveries may now be an ordinary part of many families’ lives, accounting for about 14% of the entire grocery market. But these new “quick commerce” players are gunning for the corner shop, aiming to make ordering a pint of milk, a bottle of wine and some crisps via your phone as natural as a turning to Spotify or Netflix.
Regular Getir user Steve Thomas, 41, in Hackney, east London, says he uses the app to buy specialist beers such as Beavertown and Brewdog as, with the current offer of free delivery, he can get them cheaper via the app than popping to a convenience store or via services such as Deliveroo or Uber Eats.
“Prices are extremely reasonable,” he says. “It’s great if you are watching the football or a few friends pop round.”
The apps may appear similar to Ocado’s Zoom or Sainsbury’s Chop Chop, which both offer grocery deliveries in under an hour, or buying groceries from Waitrose, the Co-op or Aldi via Deliveroo. Their point of difference is a faster and, arguably, more reliable service using “dark stores” – small very local distribution centres.
They stock no more than about 4,000 different items, 10 to 15 times fewer than a typical supermarket, but can target ranges to suit local shoppers and are far less likely to make substitutions because they know exactly what is in stock. Some, notably Weezy and Gorillas, supplement their offer with products from local specialists such as bakers or pizza makers. Delivery charges can be lower too: Weezy charges £2.95, others as little as 99p.
Shoppers range from students to harried parents stuck at home with kids, to young professionals wanting a quick meal after work or dinner party hosts in a last-minute panic over a forgotten ingredient.
Unlike takeaway food delivery firms, nearly all the grocery businesses employ their riders directly, paying by the hour, and providing them with electric bikes or electric mopeds.
“You can’t offer consistency and wow customers every time by sending gig riders into stores,” says Steve O’Hear at Zapp. Couriers delivering from shops cannot be sure if goods are in stock and will always take longer to deliver, he claims.
These start-ups only account for a tiny slice of the spend via takeaway delivery apps such as Deliveroo – less than 0.4%, according to analysts at Kantar. However, they are rapidly expanding. Some estimates suggest they could eventually account for up to half the UK’s online grocery market – currently valued at almost £18bn.
Getir, the most established of the European quick-commerce groups, has signed up 3.9m new shoppers so far this year on Android phones, according analysts at App Radar.
Weezy co-founder Alec Dent says growth, initially spurred by stay-at-home orders, has continued as lockdowns eased.
“If anything we see growth picking up. People are now used to ordering online for a big weekly shop but don’t want the constraint of [waiting in for it if they are not working from home].”
The phenomenon is international. In Moscow, 30% of its online grocery market is already taken up by quick commerce. Jiffy co-founder Vladimir Kholyaznikov, who previously worked on Russian food delivery service Foodza, believes it will be a “significant part of the market”. He adds: “Nobody can win this alone. There will be multiple successful companies.”
Eleanor Cooke, a lawyer in Battersea, south London, who now uses Weezy three or four times a week, says the app has become a habit after signing up for a money-off deal. “It has been a gamechanger. I started using it for snacks, crisps and a bottle of wine. I’ve been using it for six months and its just grown and grown.”
However, one supermarket boss expressed sceptism that quick-commerce could grab as much as half of the online market. “People who want to raise money for their brilliant idea need predictions like that,” he said.
“It sounds like an urban offer and not for the suburban family.”
Urban or suburban, many more families will be getting a chance to judge if it’s for them this year.
Runners and Riders
Launched in March 2021 by former Deliveroo executives, Dija raised $20m of seed funding in December. It is currently operating in London, Paris and Madrid, opens in Cambridge on Monday after buying local operator Genie, and plans to enter all major UK cities by the end of this year, including Manchester, Birmingham, Bristol and Edinburgh.
Stocks 4,000 different products delivered within 10 minutes for a 99p fee.
Launched January 2020, Fancy was bought by US operator GoPuff in May 2021. GoPuff is now valued at $8.9bn after raising $3.9bn in October last year. Currently making deliveries in Newcastle, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Bristol, and Birmingham , with planned openings in London, Sheffield, and Nottingham, among others, in coming months.
Choice of more than 1,000 products which can be delivered within 30 minutes for £2 fee.
Founded in Turkey in 2015, where it already serves 25 cities, Getir launched in the UK in February this year. It already has 25 dark stores , in the capital, and is opening in Birmingham and Manchester in the coming months. Within a year, it hopes to have reached 15-20 UK cities including Bristol, Liverpool and Glasgow. The company raised $300m in March in a deal valuing it at $2.6bn, just two months after raising $128m.
A choice of 1,500 items in 15 minutes. Delivery is currently free, £1.99 fee in future.
Founded last spring in Berlin by Kağan Sümer and Jörg Kattner, Gorillas launched in the UK in March this year. It serves London and Manchester , and is already advertising for staff in Bristol, Cambridge, Nottingham and Southampton. The company raised $290m in March valuing it at more than $1bn.
With over 2000 products, Gorillas delivers within 10 mins for charge of £1.80.
Jiffy’s co-founder Vladimir Kholyaznikov ran a similar start-up in Moscow before launching Jiffy in London in April 2021. The company is planning up to 100 dark stores in London and other cities this year. It raised £2.6m in seed funding in March.
Holds more than 1,200 items, delivers within 10 to 15 minutes and free first month then £1.99
Already serving London, Manchester and Brighton, with plans to be in other major cities including Birmingham and Edinburgh by the end of the year, Weezy launched in July 2020. Co-founder Alec Dent previously worked at ride sharing app BlaBlaCar, and the firm raised $20m in January 2021.
Delivers up to 2,000 products within 15 minutes for £2.95 charge.
Launched in London last summer by a team including former managers from Amazon and the Nigerian online grocer Jumia, Zapp is currently recruiting in Manchester. It raised new funds in March taking total backing to $100m since launch.
A range of 1,000 products, within 20 minutes for £1.99 fee.
The Government and Enterprise Ireland are providing two funds to regional Irish businesses in a bid to help them transition to a greener, digital economy.
The Government has today (29 July ) announced it will provide €10m in funding through Enterprise Ireland to projects supporting digitalisation and the transition to a green economy.
The Regional Enterprise Transition Scheme, worth €9.5m, will provide grant funding to regional and community-based projects focused on helping enterprises to adapt to the changing economic landscape due to Covid-19 and Brexit.
Leo Clancy, CEO, Enterprise Ireland said: “The Regional Enterprise Transition Scheme is aimed at supporting regional development and the regional business eco-system, helping to create and sustain jobs in the regions impacted by Covid-19.”
Grants of up to €1.8m or 80pc of project cost are available to businesses. The projects should aim to address the impact of Covid-19 and improve the capability and competitiveness of regional enterprises.
The call for the Regional Enterprise Transition Scheme will close on 8 September 2021. The successful projects will be announced in October and all funding will be provided to the successful applicants before the end of the year.
A separate funding scheme, the €500,000 Feasibility Study fund, will provide financial support to early-stage regional enterprise development projects.
Launching the funding schemes, Minister of State for Trade Promotion, Digital and Company Regulation, Robert Troy TD said the funds would “help stimulate transformational regional projects to support enterprises embrace the opportunities of digitalisation, the green economy as well as navigate the changed landscape arising from Covid-19.”
Minister of State for Business, Employment and Retail, Damien English TD commented at the launch that the funds would help “build Covid-19 and Brexit resilience and enable applicants to support enterprises and SMEs to respond to recent economic and market challenges which also includes the transition to a low carbon economy, digital transformation and smart specialisation.”
The Feasibility Fund is open to new projects, with grants available of up to €50,000 or 50pc of project cost and will allow promoters to test their project concept and deliver virtual or site-based solutions to their target audience.
Applications for the Feasibility Fund close on 1st October 2021.
For more information and details on how to apply for the funds, see here and here.
Chief executives are being warned to “think twice before they tweet” after the boss of takeaway company Just Eat Takeaway was told his Twitter spat with Uber threatened to undermine the firm’s reputation.
Jitse Groen this week became the latest in a growing list of chief executives to be rebuked by customers, investors and even regulators over ill-judged tweets.
Cat Rock Capital Management, an activist investor which has a 4.7% stake in Just Eat, highlighted Groen’s Twitter battle with Uber boss Dara Khosrowshahi as an example of outbursts that damaged the brand. The investor said Groen’s tweets had partly led to the firm being “deeply undervalued and vulnerable to takeover bids at far below its intrinsic value”.
Earlier this year Groen had a rant at financial analysts on Twitter, claiming that “some can’t even do basic maths”. He tweeted that he was “amazed how bad these analysts have become … All of them mix up definitions. It’s unbelievable.”
Brand and marketing expert Mark Borkowski said Groen’s case highlighted the difficulty executives face when trying to engage with customers on the platform.
“Everyone sees Twitter as a huge marketing opportunity that can drive a business forward, and it really can,” Borkowski said. “But these bosses must stop and think twice before they tweet, as just one misjudged tweet can send their share price plunging.”
Possibly the most expensive tweets ever sent were posted by Elon Musk, the maverick boss of electric car company Tesla, in 2018. The US Securities and Exchange Commission fined Musk and Tesla $20m each after he tweeted that he had “funding secured” to take the company private at $420 a share. The regulator said the tweet, which sent Tesla’s share price up by as much as 13%, violated securities law. As part of the settlement, Musk was ordered to step down as Tesla’s chairman.
Musk’s tweets continued to anger some investors. Pirc, an influential adviser to shareholders including the UK’s local authority pension funds, last year recommended that investors voted against Musk’s re-election to the Tesla board because his tweets posed “a serious risk of reputational harm to the company and its shareholders”.
“Twitter is all about personality,” Borkowski said. “While Musk’s tweets can be very controversial, they fit with his brand. Twitter is perfect for renegades, mavericks and disruptor brands. It’s much harder for well-established brands with solid reputations, if something goes wrong for them they risk damage to their hard-earned brand.
“People now think that to run a successful business, you have to be on social media and every brand has to have a Twitter account,” he said. “The chief executives see that the bosses of their rivals have a Twitter profile, and they feel they have to have one too.”
Borkowski said some bosses have been very successful at building a presence and personality on Twitter, and using their platforms to promote social issues such as LGBTQ+ rights and the Black Lives Matter movement (as well as promote their brand and products).
James Timpson, the chief executive of cobbler Timpson, this week celebrated passing 100,000 followers on his account on which he weaves photos of his colleagues working in shops with posts tackling tax avoidance and prisoner reform.
This week, he responded to Boris Johnson’s proposal to create “fluorescent-jacketed chain gangs” of people found guilty of antisocial behaviour with a tweet suggesting offenders should be helped into work instead.
Tim Cook, the chief executive of Apple, has won praise for using Twitter to successfully pressure the governor of Indiana into revising proposed legislation that had threatened to allow discrimination against gay people on religious grounds.
Researchers at Harvard Business School and Duke University said Cook “effectively framed the debate using social media at a time when opinions were being formed and the impact went beyond the political”.
Borkowski suggested that before chief executives tweet they should “consider whether they have the personality and temperament to get the tone right each time”.
“There is nothing more inelegant than a chief executive going after rivals publicly on Twitter,” he said.
It was exactly that sort of behaviour that Cat Rock had accused Groen of undertaking. When Uber Eats announced earlier this year that it would take on Just Eat in Germany, Groen lashed out in a tweet directed at Khosrowshahi, accusing him of “trying to depress our share price”.
Khosrowshahi replied that perhaps Groen should “pay a little less attention to your short term stock price and more attention to your Tech and Ops”. That sparked Groen to reply “thank you for the advice, and then if I may .. Start paying taxes, minimum wage and social security premiums before giving a founder advice on how he should run his business”.
Alex Captain, Cat Rock’s founder, said: “The response should not happen on Twitter. It should happen on a credible forum with the facts, data, and analysis that the company has at its disposal.”
A Just Eat spokesperson said: “Just Eat Takeaway.com has a regular dialogue with all its shareholders and we take all their views very seriously.”
Comment Amazon Web Services has announced the retirement of its third cloud service: the Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud, aka EC2 Classic.
A July 28 post by AWS Chief Evangelist Jeff Barr explains that the service was superseded in 2009 by Amazon Virtual Private Cloud, then again by Virtual Private Clouds for Everyone in 2013.
Barr’s post explains that customers who signed up with AWS since December 4, 2013, couldn’t use EC2 Classic unless they specifically requested it. The bulk of AWS customers will not, therefore, be inconvenienced by the service’s retirement.
Those that do use the service need to be on their toes, because AWS has set a deadline of August 15, 2022 – after which it expects “no remaining EC2 Classic resources present in any AWS account,” and all migrations to something else will be complete.
As a reminder, on October 31, 2021, AWS will disable EC2 Classic for accounts that don’t use the service and stop selling reserved instances. Barr writes that AWS will work with customers to make those migrations as easy as can be.
“We don’t plan to disrupt any workloads and will do our best to help you to meet these dates,” Barr explains.
The AWS man also reminisces about how EC2 became a big hit, fast. “We helped Animoto to scale to a then-amazing 3,400 instances when their Facebook app went viral,” he writes.
AWS has scaled things rather higher since: in 40th place on the June 2021 update to the Top 500 list of Earth’s mightiest supercomputers was a 172,692-core machine that ran for just 24 minutes in the Amazonian cloud.
EC2 was AWS’s third service. It debuted in August 2006, after the March 2006 debut of the Simple Storage Service and the July arrival of Simple Queue Service.
That all three sparked a vast and important change in business computing is not in dispute. Service providers had previously rented remotely-located compute and storage, but AWS made them more accessible and scalable than predecessors. AWS prices were also shockingly low – in a good way – and its services took off.
The Register cannot think of an enterprise computing product or vendor that has not been influenced by AWS and EC2. Makers of on-prem IT have all striven to become more cloud-like ever since EC2 debuted – both in terms of the user experience and by charging for consumption rather than up-front. Whole new software development and deployment practices have emerged to take advantage of elastic resources sold as-a-service.
EC2 has also left a cultural footprint, as the likes of Netflix realized that cloud computing offered previously unavailable possibilities.
AWS brings in more than $50bn of annual revenue, and is widely regarded as the dominant force in cloud computing.
Barr’s post states that AWS will give EC2 Classic “a gold watch and a well-deserved sendoff!”