Quick Commerce Brings Big Opportunities, Challenges For Brands

Can quick commerce get any quicker? The latest startup in the space making news is the Bengaluru, India-based Zepto, which promises groceries in 10 minutes or less. The U.S. players are a mix of providers that became household names during the pandemic, like Uber Eats, Instacart, Postmates and DoorDash, plus new disruptors like Gopuff, Jokr and Robomart.

Traditional retailers are also getting into the game of q-comm with launches and partnerships. Instacart has been particularly active in the last few months, announcing new convenience-based offerings such as Kroger Delivery Now and, most recently, Publix Quick Picks.

With consumers buying products at the speed of a Tinder swipe, brands are facing several significant challenges ensuring their online presence and SEO are ready for prime time, while retailers are grappling with difficulties managing inventory and pricing. Q-comm isn’t rocket science, just branding and retail done at lightspeed.

It’s important to understand there are two kinds of q-comm providers: 1) newbies like Gopuff and Jokr, which own their inventory and have created micro-fulfillment centers in cities and promise delivery in 30 minutes or less; and 2) larger last-mile delivery providers like Instacart, Uber Eats and DoorDash, which are partnering with retailers, pulling inventory from the brick-and-mortar shelves and delivering groceries in 30 minutes (15 minutes in some cities).



You may be asking yourself: Aren’t you forgetting someone? Actually, two someones: Amazon and Walmart. For now, they're not playing in the q-comm space, sticking instead with same-day delivery, although Amazon Fresh does offer two-hour grocery delivery in select cities. No doubt they’re working on it, and soon enough will disrupt the market and make a play to own q-commerce the same way they own ecommerce. 

Getting Up To Speed

The q-commerce space is relatively unsaturated in the U.S compared to global markets, so now is the moment for brands to get on the q-commerce expressway or be left behind. Now is the time for retailers to establish partnerships with speed-minded last-mile delivery providers.

For example, DoorDash's DoubleDash feature allows a second pick-up with orders consumers have just placed. So, after the DoorDasher goes to the pizza place, they can then stop at 7-Eleven for a pint of ice cream and deliver it in one order.

Brand managers and retailers often talk about “e-commerce 2.0.” That’s essentially what q-commerce is: the next step in the delivery. Here are a few tips to stay ahead of the curve:

-- Track which brands and items are showing up on last-mile platforms partnering with retailers.

-- Make sure every product detail page is updated with the right imagery and copy across platforms. Adjusting content and SEO ensures key products are near the top of search results.

-- Secure presence and partnership with q-commerce providers that align with brand objectives. Last-mile delivery providers offer advantages in suburbs, while micro-fulfillment centers have advantages in dense urban areas.

-- Decide which provider works best with your brand’s target consumers. Also, consider growth opportunities with a demographic that may not buy a product in a store, but might if it's available in under 30 minutes. Some vendors are resonating especially well with demographics like college-aged students.

Is your brand ready to enter commerce’s new fast lane?

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