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New generation of apps home in on quick-fire goods and food

Competition is fierce for online deliveries

By Katie Wright

Published 27/08/2016

Hassle free: more firms are offering a home delivery service for goods bought online
Hassle free: more firms are offering a home delivery service for goods bought online

They say patience is a virtue, but in the world of on-demand delivery apps, impatience is what's driving business. Jinn promises to deliver anything you want ("as long as it's legal!") as quickly as possible, round the clock. Place your order online or through the app and a courier will shop for shoes or grab a hangover-busting burger for you, with fees starting at £1.50.

I tested the app by outsourcing a lunchtime trip to Mango for a jacket I'd had my eye on.

It arrived right on time and helped me avoid crowds on the high street, queues at the shop and an afternoon downpour.

After an initial trial in Newcastle, the service is now available in London, Edinburgh, Manchester and Birmingham, but it's not the only one.

Shutl has been around for five years, offering same-day delivery of packages large and small in as little as 90 minutes, or in a specified one-hour slot on the same day.

Operating in UK towns and cities, the service has been adopted by retailers like Argos, and most recently the Fragrance Shop, so you can get your scents sent straight away for £6.95 a time.

In March, Bevy began providing thirsty punters with alcoholic drinks, snacks and cigarettes, but only close to the central area of London.

It's a common limitation, particularly with takeaway transporters: Grubhub and Henchman are London only, and UberEATS, spin-off of the popular taxi app, which launched this summer, only caters to certain boroughs in central London.

The most successful players, however, are nationwide.

Just Eat, which started in Denmark in 2000, now operates in 13 countries, and is available in more than 100 UK towns and cities, with more than 20,000 restaurants to choose from.

Other apps haven't fared so well. In July, Belgian start-up Take Eat Easy shuttered after running out of money, and this month announced its closure with remaining assets being sold to Just Eat.

Deliveroo, on the other hand, recently announced it has raised £210m of investment, but not without controversy.

The company's couriers (known as roomen and roowomen) recently staged a six-day strike after the company tried to impose a pay agreement that would see riders earning £3.75 per delivery rather than the current £7.

Following the strike, the company back-pedalled on the decision, saying roofolk could keep their original terms.

The difficulty with restaurant deliveries is that demand spikes massively at meal times, and margins are tight, whereas online shopping baskets tend to have a higher value and aren't so heavily subject to the whims of empty bellies.

While the takeaway sector looks set to be a two-horse race between Just Eat and Deliveroo, apps that combine both food and non-food may be the ones to ultimately triumph.

And competition is only going to get stiffer, with Amazon's long-awaited drones set to slash waiting times and Google recently announcing it's testing drone deliveries, too.

Belfast Telegraph

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