On-demand optimisations

Sep 08, 2021

GDR managing editor John O’Sullivan highlights the logistics optimisations helping to reinvent the on-demand food and grocery delivery market.

It’s fair to say that the on-demand food and grocery delivery market in the West bears little resemblance to its pre-pandemic guise just 18 months ago. According to Adobe, there has been a 230% increase in online grocery shopping in the US in the last year, while financial industry analysts Pitchbook estimate that there has been £9.8 bn ($14 bn) investment in super-fast delivery during that period.

In the UK alone Gorillas, Getir, Weezy, Zapp, Dija, and Jiffy are some of the relatively new players disrupting the market with 10-15 minute hyper-local deliveries from dark stores. But, slightly more under the radar, new and established players have been experimenting with a range of other innovative techniques to optimise the reach, efficiency and product offer of their delivery operations. In this article I highlight five of my favourite recent examples where food and grocery players are leveraging new technologies and distributed workforces to create more powerful and reactive logistics systems.



DishServe is a food delivery platform operating in Jakarta, Indonesia, that uses home kitchens to prepare its food. Unlike most food delivery apps like UberEATs or Postmates, DishServe runs its own branded menu instead of working with partner restaurants. And it has devised an innovative way of preparing the food close to customers’ homes at a low cost: by hiring individuals to use their own homes as dark kitchens.

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Grab Robot Runners

On-demand Singaporean food delivery service Grab has started to trial the use of autonomous robots as runners to make its service more efficient. The company’s Mix and Match service allows customers to order deliveries from multiple restaurants within the same mall or complex. Grab is aiming to use automation to improve the efficiency of the process through a trial at the Paya Lebar Quarter (PLQ) Mall. At that location, autonomous robot runners carry food from participating restaurants to a central pick-up hub, where delivery drivers can take possession of all of the meals from a Mix and Match order in the same space. This is said to save drivers between five and 15 minutes per Mix and Match delivery.

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Asda has begun a trial in which it installs secure boxes for deliveries outside customers’ homes in case they aren’t home when their order is delivered.

The metal LOCKTIN boxes are able to keep fresh and frozen food for up to four hours, giving customers a bit more flexibility for delivery if their ideal slot isn’t available. Two sizes of box are available, which can store up to four or six totes of shopping respectively.

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Kroger x Drone Express

US supermarket giant Kroger is the latest grocery store to trial the possibilities of drone delivery. Working with drone experts Drone Express, Kroger is offering the delivery option for a limited number of products for those living near its Centerville, Ohio Marketplace store. According to the Kroger Drone Delivery microsite, customers will be able to order the drones to their home address, or to nearby parks or beaches, by sharing their smartphone location via the Kroger app. Interestingly, Kroger has created a number of different product bundles that meet key missions for which the express delivery option might be needed. These include a baby care bundle with wipes and formula, another with over-the-counter medications and fluids, and a “S’mores bundle” with graham crackers, marshmallows, and chocolate.

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DoorDash DoubleDash

On-demand food delivery company DoorDash has launched a new service that nudges its takeaway customers to upgrade their orders with grocery items from local convenience providers. As part of the DoubleDash initiative, once customers place a food delivery order via DoorDash they will receive a prompt on the screen telling them they have 10 minutes to add grocery items from a named supplier to their order.

Not only is DoubleDash an interesting logistics optimisation, but it is also a brilliant way to up-sell customers with additional impulse purchases.

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As ever, if you’re interested in talking to us in more detail about any of the themes discussed in this article, or the challenges you’re facing as a business, we’re here to help. Get in touch with rachel@gdruk.com

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