Instacart, the fast-growing grocery ordering and delivery service that earlier this year closed a $44 million round to expand to new markets, has a new clone in Europe, courtesy of Rocket Internet, the newly-public German company that has made a very big business out of replicating and building out e-commerce businesses in Europe and developing markets.
ShopWings, launching today, bills itself as an online supermarket that delivers daily goods from local grocery stores. The first market where it will be open for business is Munich, but the idea will be to rapidly expand that in the months ahead — capitalising on some significant backing from Rocket Internet (total amount undisclosed) and the fact that Instacart has yet to make a move here.
“We believe people are busy, and busy people seek modern solutions that save them time. ShopWings exists to replace the hassle of traditional shopping with an innovative, time-saving alternative, so our customers can get exactly what they need, when they need it,” notes Florian Jaeger, co-founder of ShopWings. “Germans spend over two years of their lifetime in grocery stores. It therefore seems obvious to us, that online shopping will expand a lot in coming years, saving people time for the really important things.” Other co-founders are Christoph Harsch, Andreas Veller, Conrad Bloser and Dominik Unuetzer.
Delivery on the service costs €4.90 ($6.21), with a guaranteed drop time of within two hours of ordering. Customers select products online and ShopWings applies an algorithm to detect where there is matching stock near to the customer’s location.
The basic premise is similar to that of Instacart, TaskRabbit, Uber and other businesses built on the premise of the sharing economy: independent contractors sign to ShopWings to carry out the shopping and delivery.
“The lack of human involvement in online grocery stores reduces the emotional component of the shopping experience and could impact customer retention,” the company notes in a statement. “At ShopWings, the personal shoppers are the faces behind the website, connecting users and provider. We are the helping hand in the everyday life of clients.”
From what I understand, though, ShopWings has been created in the startup tradition of “moving fast”: there are no official deals in place yet with retailers, and so all of the pictures, for example, that have been posted on the service up to now are unofficial pics taken and found by ShopWings’ team.
Rocket Internet understands the concept of economies of scale and its applying it cleverly here: the company already has a number of other services operating in Germany that follow a similar model, including Hello Fresh (delivering packages of ingredients for meals) and Helpling (think TaskRabbit). Helping, for its part, is now expanding to Southern Europe (Italy and Spain) and the Americas (Brazil), the company announced today.
What it can offer here potentially is a way for independent contractors to offer their services across the range of offerings, a way of incentivising them to have more loyalty for the wider Rocket Internet effort. Similarly, over time, Rocket Internet could use the scale of ShopWings to negotiate deals with retailers that might apply not just to ShopWings, but potentially feed into (pun!) its other e-commerce efforts around food and other products.
The market that it’s tackling is big: figures from Boston Consulting estimate that on-demand, food-related tasks like grocery shopping are on track to be a $100 billion market by 2018.