Over the last 18 months, many of us have relied on home-delivery apps for takeaways, weekly food shops and even meals from our favourite restaurants. While lockdown certainly accelerated the rise of home-delivery services, they were growing in popularity before the pandemic.
Pre-Covid, trend-forecasters predicted that more of us would spend our leisure time at home, especially millennials with low funds and hectic lives. On social media, the mood shifted from ‘fear of missing out’ to ‘joy of missing out’, which Domino’s tapped into with its 2019 JOMO campaign. Then along came the pandemic, taking away the joy of staying home.
As many parts of the world reopen, it seems as though customers are excited to get off their phones and get back out there – here in the UK, people queued overnight for their first beer after lockdown measures were relaxed. But are customers really ready to part with their delivery services? Let’s take a closer look.
The rise of rapid convenience
Supermarket delivery spots become a hot commodity over lockdown. Convenience stores without their own delivery services, like McColls and Costcutter, partnered with takeaway apps to get in on the action – but they’re not the only grocers selling through third party apps.
Supermarkets including Co-op, Sainsbury’s and Waitrose partnered with Deliveroo to deliver groceries on demand, in addition to their existing services. Sainsbury’s has just signed deals with Deliveroo and UberEats, which suggests this pivot has already proved lucrative.
This quick uptake by supermarket shoppers may have helped to convince investors that there is a market for speedy groceries; this year has seen a flurry of million-dollar-investments in ‘rapid grocery’ start-ups.
There’s ASAP, which delivers groceries in ‘20 minutes or less’ to four London boroughs; Gorillas, a German company that delivers groceries for the fee of £1.80, with no minimum order; and Getir, a Turkish company that launched in 2015 and was recently valued at $2.6 billion.
While many shoppers turned to these apps because they didn’t want to leave home during lockdown, the rapid convenience sector answers a need that existed before the pandemic – the need for our lives to be easier.
From a can of Coke when you’re feeling hungover to that missing ingredient when you’re cooking dinner, there are myriad reasons to need groceries delivered within minutes. We can see why this sector is growing so rapidly!
Office faves at home
It’s not surprising that takeaway apps grew in popularity over lockdown. What was surprising was that grab-and-go brands like Pret and Leon joined in. Pret, facing an empty central London where the majority of its stores are located, expanded its delivery service in April 2020, partnering with Just Eat and UberEats. By September that year, delivery sales were ten times bigger than pre-Covid. Leon also invested in its delivery service, partnering with Deliveroo and UberEats.
Will grab-and-go brands stick with delivery after lockdown, once the office blocks have filled up again? It seems as though both brands are focusing on their bricks-and-mortar offerings – Pret has revealed a plan to move away from London and Leon was recently acquired by EG Group, who plan on opening 20 new Leon sites every year, starting in 2022.
DIY restaurant dishes
At the other end of the hospitality spectrum, high-end restaurants have also ventured into home delivery. While many launched on Deliveroo to serve local customers, there has also been a trend for ‘at home meal’ kits. Restaurant Kits, for example, teams up with independent restaurants like Kricket and Berber & Q. Restaurant Kits puts together all the meal boxes, by using the same suppliers as the restaurant.
Restaurant Kits delivers its meal boxes across the UK. While we don’t think anyone would want to swap the restaurant experience for a night in once lockdown is over, it’s a great option for customers who don’t live near their favourite food places.
Similarly, Rick Stein’s restaurant brand, which has venues in the South of England, delivers meal kits nationwide. Fans of the restaurants can now enjoy seafood from Cornwall and luxury menus at home, through the Stein at Home shop.
However, there is a price barrier with DIY restaurant kits. Once things are back to normal, we think nights in will go back to being the cheap option while restaurant meals will be seen as a special occasion that just wouldn’t be the same at home.
The Whippet verdict
In this article we’ve only covered food but home delivery services are popping up in every sector, from laundry pick-up services to at-home beauty treatments. Before the pandemic, people were already spending more time at home. It’ll be interesting to see if we pick up where we left off, once the novelty of mixing with friends wears off. While it feels great to get back out there again, we don’t think the need for super speedy, super convenient deliveries is going anywhere.