Rapid grocery delivery companies have been one of the success stories of the past few years. Borne out of necessity during the pandemic, consumers quickly embraced the idea of essentials being delivered to their door in just a few clicks.
A wave of start-ups soon began establishing themselves within the grocery space, with thousands of couriers and drivers making the journey from store (or ‘dark store’) to doorstep in less than an hour.
The sheer number of firms entering the sector has not been without its issues, as companies battle for market share. At the same time, Aldi has cut ties with delivery partner Deliveroo, leading many to ask whether consumers have fallen out of love with the concept of rapid grocery altogether.
The benefits of super-speedy delivery apps are the convenience and efficiency of their services, but only the strong will survive as consumers head back instore for their traditional weekly shop. Who will make that cut? Grocery Gazette gets ordering to find out…
Despite my healthy scepticism of grocery delivery companies (who wants someone else choosing your apples?) I started off with high expectations for Deliveroo. As one of the original takeaway delivery companies, it expanded its offering to include groceries during the pandemic and it’s fair to say the venture has taken off.
I tried out the desktop version rather than the app, just to keep them on their toes. The user experience was simple and uncomplicated – I logged in via Facebook so didn’t even have to create an account. A couple of clicks, an SMS code for security and we were good to go.
Placing the order
Once I was in, I had a choice of who would deliver my groceries – some local convenience stores and off-licenses were included the list, but the higher-than-expected delivery price led me to believe that they might be more successful with ‘late night’ orders. I went for the Co-op as it promised to be quickest.
The product choice was a little disappointing. Lots of items were listed as being out of stock, while value ranges and own-brand lines often didn’t make the cut at all. I couldn’t work out how inflated the prices were – some seemed to be about right while others were around 50% more than expected.
After a frustrating few minutes trying to find items I actually wanted, I gave in and went rogue – other than tea bags, which, conveniently, I had just run out of. Could replacements be delivered before my caffeine levels dropped too low?
I also ordered passata, humous, breadsticks, raspberries, fresh juice, cherry tomatoes and apples (someone else could choose them for me after all). The total order came to £15.10. With a delivery fee of £2.99, a service fee of 76p and my £10 off code, it all came to £8.85. Not too bad at all.
I placed my order at 10:18am, and was immediately given an ETA of between 10:35 and 10:50. Less than 20 minutes later there was a knock at my door. Delivery was, as is to be expected these days, completely contact-free, with the bags left on my doorstep as the delivery driver waved from the pavement.
The actual product itself was well-packed, had decent enough use-by dates and the fresh produce was good quality. My only annoyance was with the plastic bags it was packaged in – although they were compostable, they’re not as sustainable as paper and couldn’t be reused as they were tied so tight that I had to tear them open.
Every part of me didn’t want to like the idea of a grocery delivery service – I’d filed it under the same ‘not for me, thanks’ file as pre-grated cheese. But when you’re busy at work, tea bags are running low and you need something quickly, it’s a super-simple solution which – quite frankly – feels a bit like magic.
Final score: 8/10 (disappointing product choice but easy to use and fast, efficient delivery)
After downloading the app I could not access it until I turned off my location services – quite ironic. Whether or not that was an app malfunction or my iPhone bugging out, I’m not sure.
However, once that was all sorted, the app was easy enough to use. The home screen has different shortcuts to take you to the fruit and veg, meat or food-to-go sections, making it easier for customers to find products quickly as possible. Customers can also use a search bar to look for specific items directly.
One thing I noticed was the lack of certain foods – I was eager to get some bananas but was left devastated when none were in stock. Strawberries will have to do.
Placing the order
My other items included: Naked Tofu, Alpro Long Life Oat Milk, Kallo Organic salted Rice Cakes, Arla Lactofree Semi Skimmed and two apples, bringing my order to just over £10, the minimum order spend.
At checkout, I was greeted by a plethora of voucher codes, one of which was “get £10 off your first order of over £15”. So I decided to treat myself and get a four-pack of Birra Moretti.
After placing my order the clock was on.
“Groceries in minutes” is Getir’s motto and despite an ETA of 10 minutes, I was hesitant to trust it – perhaps some trust issues with food delivery companies creeping up here. Nevertheless, nine minutes and 40 seconds after placing my order I got a text saying my groceries had arrived.
At the door, I was greeted by a young man in Getir’s signature purple colours. He checked my ID, gave me my groceries and asked me if all my items had arrived and were in good condition before leaving on his electric bike.
Overall, Getir blew all expectations out of the water. Despite the little hiccup at the start where my app (or phone) was bugging out, everything was seamless, the order was easy, the discount codes were useful, and it arrived in less than 10 minutes.
Final score 9/10 (it would have been perfect if not for the lack of bananas)
A very disappointing start. The app alerted me that demand was too high, adding: “We’ll start taking new orders as soon as we process current orders. Please check back soon.”
As requested, I put down my phone and returned to the app at noon. By then, the order backlog was fixed and I was could do my online grocery shop – finally!
Placing the order
As it was Lunar New Year week, I wanted to top up on ingredients needed to complete traditional dishes. I was pleased to find a wide range in the fresh produce section and easily located the cucumbers, carrots, garlic and ginger.
There was even a section that allowed me to shop solely British produce, a section for produce in season and a vegan section. The categories also spanned to pets, babies, match day and “treat yourself”.
My basket surmounted to £3.96, but I had to pay an additional £1.79 a month to be eligible for free delivery. My total shop swallowed the cost and came to £5.75.
Read more: Gopuff to swallow up UK grocery minnows
The app stated delivery would take between 15-25 minutes. Exactly 15 minutes later, the doorbell buzzed with a large paper bag of my groceries, which was heavier than expected.
Turns out I ordered 2kg of carrots by accident – my bad. Other than that, all the produce looked fresh and in good shape.
Gopuff was a mixed bag. The range of produce offered surpassed my expectations, the delivery came in 15 minutes as promised but the backlog of orders was almost unforgivable.
If someone has to wait over 30 minutes to receive their order due to high demand – is it really groceries in minutes?
Final score: 7/10 (a mixed bag in more ways than one)
The app downloaded in seconds, account made within another few and luckily enough, first order meant £10 when you spend £20. It probably took me longer to decide what to get than it did for the Gorrillas to receive my order, pack it in bags and get it sent to me.
What I really did not expect was ‘London Locals’, a dedicated space for smaller businesses to trade via the app. With companies such as Gail’s bakery, Suga, H.G. Walter and Eat 17, there was a vast array of items to choose from.
There was also a dedicated space for deals, with products such as alcohol and savoury treats, alongside stationary and bath and toiletries. However, once I decided on the items, it was a piece of cake, (which ironically, I did not order, but they had a lot of choice).
The search bar made it easier to track down certain items as well as easy access to your basket to make any changes.
Placing the order
The items I ordered included Pip & Nut Smooth Peanut Butter, premium bananas, Halo Top Birthday Cake Ice Cream, Gail’s Mixed Olive Sticks, a multi-pack of bottled water, Domestos Extended Germ-Kill Original Bleach, and Dettol multipurpose large cleaning wipes.
I had to hunt online to find a promo code for first-time users, which knocked off £10 from my order.
However, a minimum £20 spend is needed to claim the voucher.
I didn’t honestly think it would be so easy. I had no spanners thrown into the works, the app was easy to figure out and smooth. There was not much difference in price points, which I was shocked about, because other delivery services often rise their prices for delivery.
When Gorillas says “groceries at your door in minutes”, it really means within minutes. My order was placed at 10:20am, confirmation received just 50 seconds later and my products arriving at my door at 10:30am. Probably one of the smoothest deliveries I have ever received.
Items ordered, confirmed and delivered within a 10-minute gap. GAME CHANGER. No items damaged, crushed, melted or spilled, 100% handled “with love”, they weren’t lying when they printed that on the bag.
Honestly, I was surprised about how quick the service was. Within 10 minutes I opened the door to the courrier with my items. It was such a smooth experience, with the app easy to navigate and a whole lot of products to choose from, catering to different dietary requirements such as vegetarian and vegan. And for a £1.80 delivery fee, it was worth every penny.
Final score 10/10 (…cannot fault it!)
It all started so well. With a nice easy interface from which to choose my grocery provider, I was linked up to the local Asda in no time, with delivery promised in 20 minutes.
Signing up wasn’t quite as smooth sailing as some of the others and I had to go hunting for a money-off code. I found one easily though (50% off) and started to place my order.
Placing the order
With a wider selection, solid pricing and seemingly full availability, selecting product to order was simple enough and made me quite hungry as I planned the evening meal (katsu curry, in case you’re wondering).
The problem came when it was time to check out. The 50% code had been applied, but was making no difference to the basket total. As I fiddled about taking it on and off again, I noticed that, in addition to the delivery charge of £2.29, I was also being charged 40p for a bag, a £1.50 service charge and a £3 small order fee.
Suddenly, a £14.96 order was costing me more than £22.
We’ll never know. The huge mark-up – of almost 50% on the actual order – and ineffective discount code meant that I never completed my order.
Nice try Uber Eats, but with fees of more than £7 it’s a hard pass from me.
Final score: 3/10 (expensive fees and clunky interface)
When opening Zapp’s app I was greeted by a trending section featuring Covid-19 rapid flow tests, boxed tissues and some Fibre One chocolate bars.
Like most delivery apps, the homepage was split into food categories such as fruit and veg, dairy and meat. I opted for the search feature and typed in “strawberries” and was surprised to find no results.
The selection was minimal and random: there were figs but no strawberries, there was kale but no cauliflower and there was artichoke truffle pesto but no regular pesto. I couldn’t tell if this app’s selection was targeted at those in Covid isolation or those with niche higher-end taste.
Placing the order
This narrowed my choices for lunch so I settled on a lemon creamy pasta. My basket consisted of a lemon and alternative single cream and I also chucked in a bag of 500g Tilda rice and a banana.
The basket was £5.26 in total, however Zapp threw on an extra £1.99 for delivery and another £1.99 for a small order fee. With a delivery fee that pricey, it better have been quick – and it was.
Zapp lived up to its name with the fastest delivery I’ve ever received on an online grocery order. The app proudly informed me my delivery took a total of four minutes, and all my items were in good condition.
As I rummaged through my shop I found a small pack of Candy Kittens sweets I didn’t order, with a sticker saying “a gift from us to you”. How sweet! I tore through the sour watermelon sweets as I unpacked the rest of my order.
Although the selection was reductive and the delivery fee wasn’t the most affordable – I was pleasantly surprised by how quickly my order was Zapped over. Even though Zapp tried to win me over with free sweets, the overall product choices didn’t quite cater to my budget or my personal taste.
Final score: 8/10 (very speedy, but little choice)