Recently, Bolt, the Tallinn-based leading micro-mobility platform, reportedly announced its entering into the dark stores business. This move comes after the launch of its car-sharing service – Bolt Drive.
In general, dark stores are a retail distribution centre or outlet that caters exclusively to online shopping. These centres are placed in a way that allows for quick delivery of goods to customers.
Part of a larger strategy
In an interview with Forbes, Bolt’s chief product officer Jevgeni Kabanov said that moving into dark stores comes as a part of a “larger strategy” around Bolt’s food vertical.
According to Kabanov, the company plans to launch its dark stores’ operations initially in Estonia and scale to other countries where it has a food delivery presence. At present, the Estonian startup provides ride-hailing, micromobility, and food delivery services.
Numerous online groceries have emerged in the past year with a similar “15 to 30-minutes delivery” business model if we take a glance.
“This [15-minute delivery] is what most of these dark stores are targeting and this is definitely what we will target,” Kabanov said.
Back in March, Bolt also secured €20 million (nearly £17.3 million) investment from IFC (International Finance Corporation), a member of the World Bank Group.
The company also recently introduced a ‘Women Only ride’ connecting female drivers with female passengers to address safety needs and improve women’s mobility.
The grocery app craze has already taken over, with so many players in the space delivering groceries now. We look at the leading ones operating in the UK and Europe competing on the 15-minute delivery timeline.
Founders: Jörg Kattner, Kağan Süme
Founded Year: 2020
Gorillas launched in the UK in March this year and aim to deliver goods to consumers within 10 minutes of ordering. In fact, the German delivery company became one of the fastest food techs to achieve unicorn status. At present, the company operates in 12 cities including, London, Manchester, and is already advertising for staff in Bristol, Cambridge, Nottingham and Southampton.
Founders: Alberto Menolascina, Yusuf Saban
Founded years: 2020
Dija is another startup offering groceries delivered to customers’ doors in under 10 minutes launched by former Deliveroo employees. If the order is not delivered, Dija will deliver groceries free for the next three months under the terms of their no-quibble turnaround guarantee.
The UK company operates from hubs within the local communities, helping them to achieve faster delivery. Currently, Dija operates in South Kensington, Fulham, Hackney and will open 20 more hubs, covering areas including Clapham, Wandsworth, Acton, Islington, Mayfair, Stockwell, and Clerkenwell by summer. Further, Dija raised £14.4M of seed funding this year and has also forayed in Cambridge 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.
Founders: Van Beveren, Alec Dent
Founded years: 2019
Weezy – which delivers groceries within 15 minutes – raised $20 million (nearly £14.6M) in January in a round led by New York-based venture capital fund Left Lane. Born in London – during the virus crisis, the company operates in London, Bristol, Brighton, and Manchester. Further, they are planning expansion to all major cities in the UK for this year and beyond.
Founders: Artur Shamalov
Founded years: 2019
Jiffy’s co-founder Vladimir Kholyaznikov ran a similar startup in Moscow before coming to London and launch the online grocery delivery startup in April 2021. Headed by a team, including former managers from Sainsbury’s, Deliveroo and Revolut, Jiffy is planning up to 100 dark stores in London and other cities this year. It also raised £2.6m in seed funding this year to make the service available in Westminster, Waterloo, Lambeth, Battersea, Clapham Town, Shoreditch, Bethnal Green, Hackney, Whitechapel, Stepney Green and Leytonstone.
Founders: Nazim Salur, Serkan Borancili, and Tuncay Tütek
Founded years: 2015
Based in Istanbul, Getir is revolutionising delivery services since 2015, with its proposition to deliver groceries within 10 minutes. Recently, the company has raised $550 million (nearly £390 million), tripling its valuation to over $7.5 billion from various investors.
Getir is now operating in 30 cities in Turkey and has launched operations in the UK in January and in the Netherlands in May 2021. In terms of the UK, the company is operating in London and further planning to expand its operations in Birmingham and Manchester.
By the end of 2021, they look forward to expanding over 15 cities across the UK, to be operating out of around 90 dark stores.
Backed by Michael Moritz, Tiger Global Management and Sequoia Capital, Getir’s team consists of over 10,000 people and, the app has handled millions of orders. In the coming weeks, Getir will also open in Paris and Berlin. While expansion into the United States is expected during the second half of this year.
Founders: Joe Falter, Navid Hadzaad
Founded years: 2020
Zapp is another instant grocery delivery startup that provides on-demand delivery services around the clock. Launched in London last summer by a team including former managers from Amazon and the Nigerian online grocer Jumia, Zapp operates a dark store model with its own micro fulfilment centers in places like London, Kensington, Chelsea, Fulham, Notting Hill, Hammersmith, Shepherd’s Bush, Shoreditch, Islington, and Angel.
Zapp is currently recruiting in Manchester. It raised new funds in March taking total backing to $100m since launch and uses an all-electric fleet to focus on sustainability. The company is also planning to expand to the US as well.
Founders: Douglas Morton
Founded year: 2012
Unlike other companies with a 10-15 mins proposition, Bother is a next-day delivery household essentials service. Bother aims to replenish household supplies before they run out, using AI dubbed as Bother Brain to ‘learn’ what a customer needs and when. The company sells everything from toilet rolls to tea bags, tin foil to tampons. The London-based company has witnessed 10x growth in the past six months.
Founders: Marco Porcaro
Founded year: 2012
Cortilia is a grocery delivery company that offers products from local farmers to customers’ doorsteps within 24 hours. The company aims to promote and enhance the local economy. The Italian company offers country-fresh products to consumers, placing them directly in contact with farmers and artisans. Earlier this year, the company raised €34 (nearly £30.7M) Series C funding in a round led by Red Circle Investments.
The company was started as an online fruit and vegetable market, but now has an inventory of more than 2,500 items from local farmers, producers, and artisans. Currently, the service is active in Lombardy, Piedmont, and Emilia-Romagna. Next year, Cortilia plans to inaugurate a new “green” headquarters of 50,000 square meters on the outskirts of Milan.
Founders: Marek Sacha, Tomas Cupr
Founded year: 2014
Rohlik is a grocery delivery company that offers a 90-minute same-day delivery service. At present, the company offers customers a choice of over 17,000 items sourced from both global FMCG companies and local merchants.
It also offers a 15-minute delivery window with delivery as soon as within two hours of placing an order. As of now, the company operates in three countries – Czech Republic (Rohlik.cz), Hungary (Kifli.hu), and Austria (Gurkerl.at).
The company witnessed a €300 million (approx £259 million) in revenue, representing 101% annual growth, and 750,000 customers in FY2020.
Founders: Oscar Pierre, Sacha Michaud
Founded Year: 2015
Glovo, the Spanish on-demand delivery app, lets users order anything locally and get it delivered within 60 minutes. The service delivers food items, groceries and pharmaceuticals as well. Glovo’s mobile application connects customers with independent local couriers, who acquire goods from any restaurant or shop in a city and also deliver urgent packages for a variable fee.
The platform’s features include geolocation, which allows customers to track their deliveries in real-time and locate the nearest glover (courier), thus optimizing speed and distance They are currently present in Spain, Italy, Portugal, France, Argentina, Chile, Bolivia, Peru, and many more to come.
Founders: Kolja Hebenstreit, Lukasz Gadowski, Markus Fuhrmann, Niklas Ostberg
Founded Year: 2011
Delivery Hero is a network of online food ordering sites with over 100 restaurant partners worldwide. It currently operates its service in over 40 countries across, Asia, Europe, Latin America, the Middle East, and North Africa. Even though the company started as food delivery services in 2011, they run e-commerce and planning to bring groceries deliveries in 10-15 mins.
Delivery Hero operates in Germany, UK, Austria, South Korea, Sweden, Finland, Poland, Australia, Switzerland, China, India, Colombia, Mexico, Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, Brazil, Peru, Venezuela, Panama, and Puerto Rico.