Prosus, the largest consumer internet company in Europe, wants to expand its grocery services through the use of “dark stores,” Bloomberg reported Monday (June 21), noting its plans come at a time of fierce competition among global food delivery services.
The dark stores, which are small warehouses based in markets carrying the most popular items, will streamline deliveries because they’re closer to customers, Prosus CEO Bob Van Dijk told Bloomberg.
Grocery delivery gained popularity during the pandemic as consumers avoided crowds, and food delivery companies that already had logistics set up for restaurant orders benefitted from the increased demand, the news outlet noted. Companies already going with the concept include Delivery Hero SE, of which Prosus owns a 25 percent stake, and Brazil’s iFood, Van Dijk told Bloomberg.
How much did food delivery take off? Here in the U.S., we’ve gotten to the point where as many consumers order groceries online as order food from restaurants over the web.
As PYMNTS’ national consumer study found last month, 17 percent of all consumers reported using digital platforms like Instacart to order and pay for food rather than make a trip to the supermarket. That’s slightly ahead of the 16 percent of consumers in the U.S. who said they ordered food online or from delivery aggregators in lieu of eating in a restaurant.
Prosus, which is based in Amsterdam, is also investing in standalone grocery delivery, such as the German company Flink.
“The most convenient way to operate dark stores is to own them and operate them,” said Van Dijk. “This way one knows where customers are, what the volumes are, and what people like to order.”
Prosus’ online food business hasn’t yet turned a profit, but the company values it at around $16 billion. It saw its revenue at the unit grow by 127 percent to $1.5 billion at the close of the fiscal year in March, Bloomberg said.