The global online grocery space continues to get more crowded. Not only do new e-grocery companies enter the ring each month, but existing companies from other industries have been making their own entries into the space. Bolt (the Estonia-based multinational mobility platform, not the San Francisco-based retail checkout technology startup) announced on Monday (August 2) a new fundraise of 600 million euros (about US$713 million) to get into ultra-fast online grocery delivery. This latest fundraise brings the Uber rival’s total funding to more than 4 billion euros.
These funds will support the company’s efforts to launch its Bolt Market 15-minute delivery service in 10 European countries. The service aims not to be consumers’ one-stop-shop to stock their fridges and pantries, but rather to meet last-minute grocery needs as they emerge.
“It is a lovely service for people who want to make porridge at home, but discover they have run out of milk,” Jevgeni Kabanov, Bolt’s chief of product development, told Estonian news service ERR News in July. “It’s a way of getting the milk you need in 10-15 minutes, and perhaps a few more items your fridge is missing. It is not a place for a family’s weekly shopping, but rather the rebirth of the corner grocery store.”
The news comes as e-grocery companies around the world race to provide the fastest order fulfillment. American online grocery giant Instacart, for one, has launched 30-minute deliveries in select markets, while Berlin-based unicorn e-grocery startup Gorillas, which fulfills orders within 10 minutes, recently came to the United States.
This race was kicked off by the turn toward online ordering occasioned by the pandemic, and industry leaders predict it will only escalate in years ahead. PYMNTS’ study, The Bring-It-to-Me Economy: How Online Marketplaces and Aggregators Drive Omnichannel Commerce, created in collaboration with Carat by Fiserv, finds that 72 percent of grocery shoppers now order their groceries online for delivery. Additionally, 27 percent are ordering groceries online for delivery more than before the start of the pandemic.
“In the years leading up to and during the pandemic, there was a ton of growth and investment in the space. Now, demand is greater than ever for giving customers access to their immediate needs,” Ashwin Wadekar, Gorillas chief of staff, told PYMNTS in an interview. “What began as an early adopter trend pre-pandemic and suddenly became a necessity as lockdowns hit has now turned into something that consumers see as customary when it comes to their grocery shopping experience.”
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Bolt, which operates in more than 150 cities on five continents, is not the only major international ridesharing company to get into grocery delivery. Uber announced last month that it was doubling Uber Eats’ grocery delivery presence, partnering with major grocery chain Albertsons Companies to add 1,200 new grocery stores to the platform.
Other delivery services that began as a marketplace for restaurant meals have also been getting further into online grocery. In June, DoorDash announced its own Albertsons Companies partnership to provide one-hour grocery delivery from almost 2,000 of the grocer’s stores, and global delivery giant Just Eat Takeaway.com is gearing up to launch grocery delivery across all of its markets. It remains to be seen whether the growing demand for online grocery delivery will be enough to accommodate the entry of so many major players, or whether many of these costly efforts will flop.