Copyright Emerce

Albert Heijn, Plus, Marqt, Spar and Hoogvliet can all be found on, with a limited number of their outlets. With Uber Eats, groceries from Marqt, Spar and note Flink can be ordered in our country. For now, these appear to be experiments, but a glance abroad shows that it need not stop there. What do supermarkets and meal platforms see in each other?

"Nothing concrete is playing out at the moment, but if Albert Heijn calls we will definitely pick up the phone." Robin Kiesler, country manager of Flink, made that recently via trade magazine Distrifood. Following the acquisition of compatriot Gorillas by Turkey's Getir, Flink is one of only two remaining flash delivery companies in the Netherlands. They find themselves in turbulent waters as investors tighten their purse strings and want cash on the nail. Making a profit is the goal for 2024, Kiesler told the trade title, but Flink is challenged by municipal restrictions when it comes to location policies. Products are likely to become more expensive, as will delivery, which will take longer. Ten-minute delivery sounded very catchy at the time, but all this is not so important to the customer, is the progressive insight Kielser says he gained from customer research. He wants to keep delivery time under forty minutes. If his company does not manage that, it will take longer than restaurants, and the German prefers not to see that happen.

Whether Albert Heijn will climb into the phone any time soon seems unlikely, although a spokeswoman did not comment specifically. The market leader entered into a grocery delivery partnership with last spring, which has remained the same in size since then. "The trial with Thuisbezorgd in Amsterdam is still running. Within the ring road, we deliver groceries together within half an hour, from four stores. That's going well." Nothing is revealed about possible future plans.

Jumbo and Gorillas
Jumbo, the second largest supermarket formula in the Netherlands by store base and turnover, surprisingly jumped on the flash train with Gorillas a few months earlier. The company was going to supply products to the Germans' dark stores. The intention was that Gorillas delivery would also become an option on Jumbo's ordering channels, but it didn't come to that. Mississippi Ventures, the investment fund of Jumbo's Van Eerd family, did take a minority stake in Gorillas, which they have disposed of since its acquisition by Getir. The flash delivery company also showed off its name on the jersey of the victorious Jumbo-Visma cycling team in the Tour de France last summer.

The purchasing deal with Gorillas earned Jumbo "several tens of millions" last year, acting top executive Ton van Veen said at the presentation of last year's figures. That amount is confirmed by Jumbo to Emerce, without making it more concrete. The Veghel-based company makes no statements about the continuation of the cooperation, which is still ongoing at the time of writing.

Besides sales, the deal has also given Jumbo a "faster" image. This is pointed out by Laurens Sloot, special professor of entrepreneurship in retail at the University of Groningen and general director of EFMI Business School. "Gorillas and other flash companies have a different brain position with consumers than supermarkets have. That also plays a role in collaborations like this."

How big is the flash market?
At the end of last year, 270,000 Dutch people regularly ordered from a flash delivery company, Kantar calculated. That number dropped considerably over the course of last year. The use of flash delivery seems to fit less well in the current economic climate, the research firm in December. Shortly thereafter, GfK also that the reach of flash deliverers declined after the summer, to about three percent of buying Dutch. Their pie slice of the entire grocery market is smaller than that, although it is not clear exactly how high the sales share of flash deliverers is. The pie itself is very big, by the way: Dutch supermarket sales amounted to 46.3 billion euros last year. Sloot: "I estimate that the flash deliverers are currently turning over about thirty to forty million euros in sales per month. That corresponds to a market share of 0.7 to 1.0 percent in the supermarket channel."

Supers AND Flink on meal delivery platforms
Jumbo is the only Dutch supermarket to cooperate with a flash company, many competitors entered into collaborations with meal delivery platforms. Notably Flink, which offers groceries on Uber Eats and also leaves delivery to the platform. First in four cities, now everywhere in the Netherlands where both players operate. Getir sells in several countries on sister sites of, thanks to a deal with Just Eat Takeaway. In other words, not only do supermarkets know how to find meal platforms, flash delivery companies do too.

Why should supermarkets show up on meal platforms? According to independent platform expert Martijn Arets, it is primarily about visibility: "Those platforms offer a low-threshold way to get in the picture, even with consumers who are not customers." According to him, the cooperation also offers supermarkets the opportunity to offer a more complete service. "For now, these are pilots, where they can take stock of whether there is a high demand for fast grocery delivery. If so, they can possibly set up their own dark stores at their stores to collect orders quickly."

Christian van Someren, co-founder of defunct Web supermarket and now CEO of omnichannel personalization platform SphereMall, thinks supermarkets will be attracted by the fast delivery and fine-grained distribution that meal delivery companies can offer. "In the United States, Instacart has been proving for years that there is a market for a fast pickup and delivery service for groceries. The only question is how big that market is, especially here."

Van Someren also sees that large meal delivery companies like DoorDash (U.S.) and Delivery Hero (Germany) have gained traction with supermarkets. Still, he thinks Dutch supermarkets could very well do without a quick grocery delivery service. "There are so many supermarkets here that there is always one nearby. As a consumer, are you going to pay top dollar for fast delivery? As supermarkets, are you then going to go out of your way to offer that speed, when you know that it's mostly low coupon amounts?" The model simply cannot be off, argues the expert by experience. He explains: "The commodities can usually really take longer, the same goes for meal packages. Then you have the market for forgotten ingredients. That will happen once in a while, but there's really no way a quick service like that can get away with that. There is a market for ready meals, but that's a whole different business for a supermarket. Because who is going to prepare the food?"

Of course, a party like does have a huge reach, Van Someren acknowledges. He sees that on the road to profitability, everything has been done to market that reach. "They are kicking in doors everywhere. For example, they also work with manufacturers like Heineken and Unilever. They promote cans of beer and Ben & Jerry's in the app. From their point of view, I understand very well the freebies with supermarkets." Those have jumped on the bandwagon one by one, he observes, but they are and will continue to be the dominant party. Those supers really don't need "Convergence between the markets for meal and grocery delivery? I don't see that happening in the Netherlands."

JET's focus on groceries
It is, however, what Just Eat Takeaway (JET) believes in, according to a spokeswoman. She acknowledges that the cooperation between and Albert Heijn, Plus, Marqt, Spar and Hoogvliet is currently still on a small scale. "Pilots, you could say indeed. Grocery delivery is something we have really started to focus on as a company, though, as evidenced by the collaborations we have entered into internationally." JET made strategic alliances with British supermarket chains Asda and Sainsbury's and Spanish discounter DIA, among others.

"With our large customer base, understanding of retail and our unparalleled delivery network, Just Eat is well positioned to become a major player in this field," said JET's global director grocery & convenience Carlos Hernandez in a recent . According to the spokeswoman, the company is pursuing this type of "collaboration at scale" in our country as well. "We are a platform and go for the broadest possible offer for consumers. And we help entrepreneurs with our marketplace and with delivery." Grocery delivery is something the company can very well do on the side, she argues. "After all, we employ the people for that. The peak of meal delivery is in the early evening. Grocery delivery runs throughout the day." Actually, JET is just getting started in this delivery market, she points out, a market in which substantial revenue potential is seen. "For us, it's still early days."

One-stop shop for on-demand delivery
Grocery delivery is also an important strategic pillar of growth for competitor Uber Eats. Although this is more visible across the border than here. "With the expansion into groceries, we offer supermarkets and other stores a platform for last-mile delivery," says a local spokesperson. "They can use our technology and logistics network to offer on-demand grocery delivery in an efficient way." It gives end users flexibility they don't have now, the spokesman said. "Supermarkets now mainly work with fixed delivery windows that are further into the future. Our goal is to be there for all scenarios: for weekly groceries, evening shopping or a forgotten item. We also see that our users need one app that offers the choice of meal and grocery delivery, or a combination." If desired, these can be delivered at the same time, making Uber Eats "a one-stop shop for on-demand delivery," according to the spokesperson. For now, only a single branch of Marqt and Spar can be found on the Dutch platform, separate from Flink. "From our international experience, we know that cooperation with supermarkets and retailers is essential to offer users an optimal experience. In doing so, we strive for customization: the retailer's formula is central."

Market completely tilted
According to Professor Sloot, meal platforms and supermarkets started sniffing each other last year after the rapid rise of flash delivery companies. These are now struggling for various reasons, not least because consumers are paying closer attention to the little things due to loss of purchasing power. "The market has completely tilted. Consumers are looking less at added value and more at price." Flash companies have a darned difficult model to make ends meet, he continues, because they need sourcing and premises in addition to a delivery infrastructure. "Their receipt amounts will have to go up, so will the margins on products, but then you are left with only a small potential customer base."

Plus: the efficiency of the riders will have to be optimal. "In terms of organization, you can compare the flash units to Domino's or New York Pizza, but with half the gross margin per order." According to Sloot, if they don't manage to increase that margin, they will remain niche players. "But that's not a bad thing. The convenience store is still there, too. And look at HelloFresh, which also serves a niche, but all over the world."

Fulfilment in stores
Back to supermarkets. Will they make work of fast(er) delivery, whether or not through partners? Sloot: "They are experimenting with it, seeing what the possibilities are for selling especially the margin-rich products. Easily accessible. Using their own stores for fulfillment, like Plus does for all its online orders. That chain has been offering delivery within two hours in many cities for years, which supermarket operators do themselves under the name Plus Express. But supermarkets can also leave fast delivery to third parties with a delivery network, as Aldi in the U.S. is now doing on a large scale with DoorDash, for example. The question always remains what people are willing to pay for service."

In Britain, which is usually several years ahead of us when it comes to retail developments, just about all major supermarket chains work with Just Eat, Uber Eats or Deliveroo, which has disappeared from the Dutch market. The big exception is Tesco: for just under three pounds (£2.99), the market leader delivers groceries within an hour from already eight hundred supermarkets with its own delivery service Woosh. Whether Albert Heijn and Jumbo have plans for a similar express service they will not disclose.

From wow effect to dynamic model
Either way, it seems that ten-minute grocery delivery has been a temporary thing. Platform expert Arets: "It was a clever stunt by the flash delivery companies to create the wow effect, but you see that they can't sustain it. I do expect existing parties in online groceries to start offering more variation in delivery times: the faster, the more expensive. Comparable to what you see happening with online stores in non-food." So a dynamic model, with variable prices, in which different delivery parties can have a role. "Left or right, there has to be a business case at some point."

Van Someren does not believe that supermarkets will be inclined to put a lot of gas on fast grocery delivery. He sees few use cases and high costs: "On the contrary, they do everything in their stores to offer inspiration on food. That's where to do it, especially in the Netherlands with that high supermarket density." He wonders aloud whether there is a real market for instant delivery. "The model can't pan out, as a customer you just pay too much and the supermarkets don't really need this. In ten years there may well still be a quick grocery delivery service, but it's really not going to be the new standard."

© The Content Exchange, source News