An evident impact of constant lockdowns during the pandemic was increased e-commerce sales. With everything being delivered to the doorsteps, this period gave hyper delivery startups a chance to shine. In Q2 2020 alone, half a million new shoppers were added to the grocery delivery sector, which is now worth £14.3bn in the UK.
Weezy – born in London – during the virus crisis, is one such hyperlocal delivery startup which has positioned itself as the UK’s first on-demand supermarket delivering groceries in 15 minutes. Since last year, the online tech startup has raised funding twice, with the recent one being a notable £14.66M funding round.
Weezy’s co-founders are Kristof Van Beveren and Alec Dent. CEO Kristof started his career in the consumer goods world at Procter & Gamble, before moving into consultancy at McKinsey & Company. He later took up a role as chief of staff at Belgium startup Showpad. COO Alec headed up operations at UK startup Drover and business development at BlaBlaCar.
While you can call it a faster version of Amazon Fresh or Ocado, like many great ideas, necessity gave birth to Weezy. It originated from Kristoff’s needs as a traveller to find a service that wasn’t slow, skipped out on products or restricted him to time slots.
Going hyperlocal during COVID
There’s also another interesting story behind how COVID-19 impacted Weezy. Kristof Van Beveren, co-founder and CEO of Weezy, notes, “COVID accelerated online grocery shopping habits and we saw a wider and more diverse audience coming to the platform , with many people using the online delivery service for the first time during the pandemic.”
COVID might have raised the number of orders placed on online grocery delivery platforms. However, Weezy believes that it will also make it easier for people to switch to Weezy from other platforms once the pandemic passes. “When you fast forward to a world without COVID when people are out and about and busy, they don’t really have the time to plan and go grocery shopping. Suddenly, the activity turns into a tedious chore. This is when switching to Weezy will be easier for consumers because we offer a proposition that’s extremely adapted to a demanding schedule,” says Beveren.
The venerable A-team
Any startup is as successful as the people that support it. Weezy employs 20 full time employees currently, along with 30 to 40 customer delivery reps. The company is looking to expand the headcount by adding around 50 new permanent employees this quarter. The company has open positions in multiple disciplines such as marketing, data, product and technology, merchandising and more.
Weezy’s recent funding round will also help accelerate their recruitment drive. Talking about raising funds, Dent notes, “Raising funds during the pandemic was a normal experience for us. It wasn’t more difficult or easy but it was definitely unique, especially since you can’t meet anyone in person.”
Employing customer services specialists
While most people use standard delivery personnel, Weezy employs customer services specialists instead. Kristof explains the reason behind the decision, “Firstly, people appreciate having great customer service and it comes from the interactions they’ll have in the app, in case they contact their local fulfilment centre. In case there’s any trouble with the delivery, you want to talk to someone who provides a great service.”
He continues, “Secondly, the demand curve of your customers is notably flatter than it is for meal deliveries. This means we can actually offer shifts to customer delivery reps ranging throughout the whole day. Also, because we have our own warehouse and the fulfilment centres. Customer delivery reps can come into the fulfilment centre and we can offer them training and a career progression whereby they can become a shift manager and a fulfilment centre manager. This is possible only if you own the fulfilment centre.”
Further, Weezy also plans to launch in a number of UK cities but with their main focus on London. Potential cities where the company might launch its services soon include Manchester, Birmingham or Bristol. There’s also talks of the company raising more external funding this year.
Weezy is opening two fulfilment centres in Lambeth and London Fields, adding to its existing locations covering Battersea, Clapham, Fulham and Chelsea. It plans to open 40 more UK sites by the end of 2021.
— Interview by Akansha Srivastava