Quick delivery companies must build a brand beyond just awareness

By Chris Ridd, strategy director at the creative agency EveryFriday

One of the many changes in consumer behaviour brought upon by the pandemic has been the growing reliance on the rapid delivery of essential items to the home. 

From the urgent need of toilet paper has spawned a new wave of demand for the quick delivery of ‘nice to haves’ – a tub of humous delivered within the hour? Yes please. A chilled bottle of rosé dropped off in 30 minutes? Sure. 

With this demand has come a flurry of new brands – Getir, GoPuff and Gorillas, to name a few, set up to offer swift delivery of everyday items to urban areas across the UK.

Yet, despite the rapid growth and high levels of funding poured into these brands, many are now losing sales and shedding staff, which begs the question if – and why – the party is over for rapid delivery?

Since March, GoPuff, Getir and Zapp have all announced plans to cut jobs, with the latter pulling out of Amsterdam altogether, less than a year since it launched there.  

What’s more, data from Apptopia shows app downloads and usage have plummeted in recent months with Getir, which is the largest rapid grocer in the UK, seeing monthly user sessions halving from almost 30 million in March to just over 15 million in June.

The reality is that these are difficult business models to make work, due to the high costs associated with headcount and operations versus the relatively low fees that they currently charge for their service. In an era of rising inflation and economic uncertainty, this narrow profit margin will be the final nail in the coffin for many of these businesses. 

In truth, this is a model that will only work by charging a premium on goods and on the delivery charge, targeting a small but focussed and upmarket audience. In a cost of living crisis, this audience is only likely to shrink.

So how can quick delivery brands survive?

First and foremost, they must build their brand at speed, beyond just awareness. This is about building quality cues into the brand proposition, not only in look, feel and tone, but also in the products being offered and the brands that they sell, which must be at minimum household names, and at best premium brands. 

But it’s more than just what they sell. There also needs to be investment in customer service and – crucially – in the customer point of contact – the delivery drivers. These are the ambassadors who are responsible for conveying a brand’s values at the coal face, therefore they must be encouraged to effectively deliver on the brand’s promise. Introducing a consistent uniform will help to bring a sense of belonging and camaraderie amongst drivers, while also serving to enhance brand visibility and awareness. 

Consideration also needs to be given to the way in which brands transport goods, keeping in mind the environmental impact this will have. E-scooters and bikes being the obvious choice to avoid the inevitable concerns. 

Yes, this may be a significant cost to a business, but it’s also the cost of doing business if you want to build the right long-term associations. Because let’s face it, not everyone has the (hard fought) advantages that Ocado has developed. Yet, in Zoom the model of strong parent brand and consistency in the delivery of brand assets across every customer experience – and environmentally conscious delivery – has to be the aim, albeit a very high bar. 

The simple truth is, there isn’t space for too many players. Whilst the brands that are built on the sand will become obsolete, the winners will be the ones that build a genuine brand, with real substance behind it. A brand that offers more than just quick delivery and transaction, but a clear and authentic purpose that consumers buy into.

Chris Ridd is strategy director at the creative agency EveryFriday

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