Shopping delivered in 10 minutes, the crazy battle of super-fast delivery



It is an urban battle reminiscent of the war of self-service bicycle rental companies in Paris in 2018 or those of electric scooter service operators the following year. This time, it is to conquer the market for the ultra-fast delivery of food products that a dozen companies have launched hostilities.

Kol, Cajoo, Gorillas, Flink, Dija or Getir. The name of the players in “quick commerce” probably doesn’t mean much to you yet. But these French companies or, more often, subsidiaries of foreign groups, are launched in a lightning war to conquer France, starting with Paris. Their promise is more or less the same, that of revolutionizing everyday shopping with delivery 7 days a week, from early morning to very late evening, in 10 or 15 minutes maximum.

Storage places in the heart of cities

To meet these deadlines, these new merchants are increasing the opening of small stores scattered around the heart of cities. These do not welcome customers and do not have checkouts. They only serve as a storage place for a thousand different products purchased directly from manufacturers and sold at a price equivalent to those of downtown retailers.

These mini-warehouses constitute the rear base where orders placed by customers via their smartphone are prepared. As soon as they are bagged, the products are entrusted to delivery people (usually equipped with electric bicycles) who hasten to bring them to their destination in record time. “It is not our delivery people who pedal quickly, it is our stores which are close to customers”, summarizes Charles d’Harambure, Managing Director of the French subsidiary of the German group Flink.

Fundraising in the hundreds of millions of euros

Some precursors were already timidly present in France in specific segments, such as Kol for drinks. But the offensive has changed scale with the arrival in recent weeks of a host of new players, endowed with colossal resources. “ There is a real boom right now because the lockdown has accelerated the rise of online commerce. Many then said to themselves that it was time to transpose the model that made Amazon’s success to food. », Explains Yves Marin, trade specialist at the Bartle consulting firm.

To gain a foothold in this emerging market, companies are firing on all cylinders. They open mini-warehouses by the dozen, hire preparers and deliverers by the hundreds. They multiply promotions. They have barely set foot in Paris when they are already promising to expand into other large cities, from Lille to Bordeaux. A speed race that can be found elsewhere in Europe, financed by fundraising which runs into hundreds of millions of euros.

A market to conquer

If the battle turns out to be so intense, it is because all the protagonists think that the market to be conquered will become considerable. ” Unlike travel or cultural goods, consumer products have not yet experienced their digital revolution. Daily shopping costs 100 billion euros per year. If the quick commerce takes 30% … », Takes to dreaming Charles D’Harambure.

However, this hope is far from being a certainty and experts remain divided on the future of quick commerce. ” Is being delivered in 10 minutes rather than an hour a revolution? I think that this will remain confined to a very limited clientele and to purchases of repairs. It is an impossible model to monetize with small baskets », Considers Philippe Goetzmann, consultant specializing in distribution.

Conversely, Yves Marin is a little more optimistic. “ Quick commerce will not be the dominant model, but it can find its place in a rapidly changing sector and take 5 or 10% of the market. Moreover, all the large distribution are watching very closely what is happening. », He assures us.

Whether the market is big or small, a point made despite all consensus: there will not be room for everyone. This certainty that only the best installed will survive therefore pushes all players to spend lavishly in order to grow faster than the competition. ” They burn a considerable “cash” with the sole objective of winning customers ”, notes Philippe Goetzmann. A policy which obviously cannot last forever: ” Many will be condemned to throw in the towel, few will survive “.

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Gopuff, the American model

► In terms of rapid delivery of everyday products, the American Gopuff is a pioneer. Created in 2013 by two students from a university in Pennsylvania, their service initially aimed to supply their comrades in order to avoid them having to leave the campus to go to town to do their shopping.

► Since then, the company has grown a lot. It claims 7,000 employees, covers more than 650 American cities in which it offers nearly 4,000 products (food, drink, hygiene, drugstore, etc.) delivered in less than 30 minutes at a fixed cost of $ 1.95 (around $ 1. € 6).

► In March 2021, Gopuff raised another record fundraiser, raising around one billion euros. Its valuation reaches more than 7.5 billion euros.

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