Gallery: Food courier services gaining pace, not turning a profit just yet

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Major retail chains have been offering a chance to order food home with a courier for years now. Lately, smaller businesses have started to crop up next to them, whose selection is small, but whose delivery time is also short. All market players have said that e-businesses are increasingly growing, but still haven't made a profit.

Tallinn residents soon won't have any real need to go to a food store in person, and will be able to order their weekly menu from retail chains, with a one-day delivery time. For smaller orders, the lead-time is considerably shorter; If you run out of milk, for instance, ERR reports the courier delivery company will bring it to you in 15 minutes.

Ride-hailing, e-scooter and food courier app service Bolt opened its first warehouse store last week, which customers cannot wander into from the street.

There are three such warehouses in Tallinn, and one in Tartu. The current selection of 2,000 products will increase in the future.

"If we look at other countries with successful economies, we can see that e-business only make up a couple of percent market share, while billions pass through the retail trade as a whole. Even if we take tens of percent of the market share in the future, this would require quite large investments. As a result, we are focusing on clear growth, not a precise market share," Bolt Market's regional chief Maxim Milashenko told ERR.

When Bolt's client needs elementary daily products, then a person who orders his weekly selection turns to bigger retail chains with a bigger selection where the order usually arrives in a day. This means big retail chains don't see competition in fast courier services.

"At the moment, the selection is five to six times bigger and we bring the order home for free starting from a certain sum. For us, the e-store coexists with the physical shops and we have over 330 of those in Estonia. This e-store should be a channel for offering additional possibilities. And in that sense, we haven't made it our goal for all people to move from regular stores to the e-store," communication manager of Coop food chain Martin Miido said.

Coop's e-store has 30,000 clients. The business has grown substantially, but still makes up only five percent of the whole business and is largely dependent on external factors.

"Today's regular day is similar to the best day during the crisis. When the weather gets colder, people start to use more e-stores," Miido said.

This year, Bolt competitor, the similarly-named Finnish-owned Wolt is also bringing its warehouse store to the market. Two weeks ago, manufacturer of delivery robots Starship started home delivery from its food stores. A couple of dozen robots are serving one particular area of Tallinn to begin with.

"Regarding growth, our ambitions are big. Initially, we will see how we'll get this service working in Tallinn and how we're accepted. But generally, we are planning to expand in the sense of service area and our current users," the business development chief of Starship Sandra Sooläte said.

All market participants confirm that there is room for growth, adding that everybody should be able to get a foothold in the market.


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Editor: Roberta Vaino

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