Startups Deliver Groceries in 10 Minutes Via Their Own Employees

They are displacing c-store trips with fast delivery made possible through employees—not gig workers.

December 02, 2021

Grocery Delivery

ALEXANDRIA, Va.—There’s a new breed of delivery companies coming on the scene to bring convenience-store-style products to consumers, promising to deliver orders in as little as 10 minutes after customers purchase the products. These companies are differentiating themselves not only with their extra speedy delivery, but with who delivers the products. Instead of using independent contractors, or gig workers, these companies hire employees, reports Wired.

“It'd be very difficult for us to guarantee 10-minute grocery delivery if we didn't have people on staff,” Adam Wacenske, the head of U.S. operations at Gorillas, told Wired. Gorillas is a German delivery company that received more than $1 billion in funding, and its employees receive health care benefits, paid time off, and most are full-time. Employees even get the equipment they need to fulfill their duties from Gorilla for free, including ebikes, reflective vests and rain gear.

According to the article, the companies are displacing trips to convenience stores, gas stations and small supermarkets because of their ultra-fast delivery speeds—and the fact that products are delivered to a customer’s location with the touch of button. These companies are built on the theory that there is no such thing as too fast when it comes to delivery.

Buyk, which is the U.S. version of Russian delivery company Samokat, operates in New York City and pays its employees a minimum $17 an hour plus benefits and gives them a pedal-assist bicycle and jackets. “Our goal is to have as many full-time workers as possible,” Buyk CEO James Walker told Wired. “I don’t think that dedicated, passionate employees are necessary to be in the ultrafast grocery business, but I think they’re necessary if you want to win, and we’re very committed to winning.”

Delivery companies that hire contracted workers such as Uber and DoorDash are having a hard time recruiting workers because people would rather get paid for all working hours, including down times and wait times.

It will take time to see if the consumer cares about whether their delivery company hires employees or gig workers. It costs more for the companies to deliver groceries with employees instead of gig workers, which could be a deterrent to customers. Deeper customer loyalty to an employee-based delivery company versus a gig worker one has yet to be seen.

In order to meet the customer’s need for delivery, many convenience stores are turning to third-party delivery providers, but partnering with these companies comes at a cost. According to NACS’ “Last Mile Fulfillment in Convenience Retail” report, only 61% of retailers are satisfied with their third-party delivery partners. Concerns include high fees, little access to consumer data, difficulties delivering age-restricted products and service and operational issues. Read more about these challenges and what c-stores are doing to make delivery work for their businesses in “Delivering Convenience” in the December 2021 issue of NACS Magazine.