In the major French cities, posters have appeared in recent months with this proposal: your shopping “delivered in 10 minutes”. Those who make this promise are new players in the trade online, including Flink, Gorillas or Getir. Between them, they weigh more than 80% of this new market, according to the IRI panelists.
Behind this flashy slogan, hellish logistics: small warehouses crisscrossing the big cities to be closer to consumers; within them, a limited number of references, scattered on carefully numbered stalls, “collectors” ready to fill a basket in a few moments, and delivery riders doped with electricity, bag screwed on the back, ready to sprint to your landing.
At certain times, orders pour in
A survey of those who, on a daily basis, have managed these warehouses shows the limits of the promise. “The deadlines were tenable at the time of the launch when we had 100 orders per day, explains Karl (1) who, for a year and a half, was successively at the head of a warehouse at Gorillas and Flink in Germany, the country of origin of the two companies. From the moment you deliver ten times more, that’s no longer possible. »
“Obviously we don’t meet these deadlines, confirms Dimitri, who managed a warehouse in Paris for a year for Gorillas. When I left, we had to make 600 orders a day: we delivered in 10 minutes in less than 15% of cases. » Everywhere, the observation is shared: impossible to keep up with the pace, due to the size of the warehouses and the need for manpower.
One reason particularly limits the ability to make instant deliveries: “We are open from eight a.m. to midnight, but there are only a few hours when orders are pouring in,” explains Erdem, ex-number two of a Flink warehouse. The newcomers to fast delivery have overwhelmingly opted to hire on permanent contracts. They are trapped between the need to have a large workforce to cope with peaks and the need to limit losses during low hours. Result, at aperitif time, it is not uncommon for ten minutes to become an hour…
A hellish pace
All speak thus of an infernal rate. “We’ve turned the warehouse into a machine!” You manage around thirty people: to supervise is to be a great conductor, you have to set the tempo”, explains Nabil, who participated in the launch of a Gorillas brand in the North. “For example, data collection should never last more than two minutes, details Tao who has just left his managerial position at Getir, in Germany. Otherwise, the collector has to practice. There are techniques: you store a maximum next to the output, for example. »
In these companies where “data” is queen, every second is tracked, even if it means putting the teams under pressure. “We decided to send emojis to the delivery people at the end of the race: a snake if they were too slow, a rocket for the fastest, details Karl, who specifies that the incentive had no financial impact. But we put them in danger. I had to call families several times to announce: “Your son is in the hospital.”I ended up at odds with the company’s promise. I said, “It doesn’t matter if you deliver in fifteen minutes.” »
“The bags were sometimes more than 20 kg”
“We had an accident on average every two weeks: casually, we send people to the stake, abounds Damien, who managed a Parisian warehouse for Flink. Delivery people are quite easy to manage: they are often first jobs or people with residence permits. » They are the first victims of the skyrocketing increase in the number of orders.
“At peak times, we could leave with two, three or even four orders in our bags to be able to deliver to everyone,” explains Axel, delivery man for a few months. “The bags were sometimes over 20 kg: the joke between delivery people was to say that there should be a tax on water bottles”, he continues.
The platforms have integrated the extension of deadlines: for several weeks, they have focused their communication on a delivery ” in a few minutes “. Gorillas and Getir refuse to give average times. Flink assures that it delivers on average “in 15 minutes” in France while specifying, in a particular sense of “at the same time”, not having “no delivery target in 10 or 15 minutes”.
Sifting through the general conditions of sale confirms their desire to backpedal. gorillas? “Fmakes every effort to deliver the orders within the times indicated. » Flink? ” Delivery is made as soon as possible. » Getir? “We will do our best to deliver the products to you within two hours at the latest.»
“The ten minutes are doomed to disappear”
The main thing is now elsewhere. The race for fast delivery is expensive. In June, the Bloomberg agency indicated that Gorillas is still losing nearly 80 million euros per month. Even as the sector consolidates. The small players are bought by the big ones, like the French Cajoo by Flink. And big fish limit losses: Gorillas, for example, closed its branches in Belgium and Italy, to focus on markets where it is better established.
“The ten minutes are doomed to disappear from the landscape, judges economist Philippe Moati, co-founder of Obsoco, the society and consumption observatory. The question is rather: “Is it viable to deliver in less than 30 minutes?” » Difficult to chase costs. “It is necessary to have a fine mesh of the territories with the warehouses and it seems difficult to save labor”, Philippe Moati list.
There are then two options to become profitable: “Are they going to increase their margins or deliver at the real price? », asks the economist. Competition is strong in this sector. “You have to see how far investors will go. There has been a lot of money in the financial markets in recent years, which has allowed companies like Uber to be supported as they lost money. Currently, the markets are turning around and this could be fatal for many fast delivery players. »
A consolidating market
A study by the Atelier parisien d’urbanisme in February 2022 identified 80 ghost stores in Paris and in the inner suburbs. According to the City of Paris, there would be today about 115 on its territory.
At the end of 2021, there were approximately 150 of these stores in France, spread over eight cities.
Among the most active start-ups on the market, we find Getir (of Turkish origin), the Germans Flink and Gorillas, Gopuff (which has been a pioneer since its creation in the United States in 2013) or even the French Cajoo… which was bought by Flink this year. The market is constantly consolidating.
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