Glovo, the Spain-headquartered on-demand delivery app, which was launched in Nairobi earlier this year, is making waves in the city. Almost everywhere you look, there’s either a rider with the branded Glovo carrier bag or a big Glovo billboard ad or buses branded with the distinct Glovo App colours.
So why did this app, that’s less than a year old in Kenya take off so fast? I spoke to Stephen Ruhohi, Growth and Marketing Manager at Glovo about their growth and why convenience for customers is a sure way to win in this industry.
“My name is Stephen Ruhohi, Growth and Marketing manager at Glovo, which I joined in February this year but it honestly kinda feels like two years. Things in tech happen real quick and some of the work we do in 3 months here is done in 6 months elsewhere; we do more in half the time. Before, I was in a very different space, I’ve worked for BAT, a flower export company as a sales and marketing manager, an advertising agency, a consultancy firm.
Glovo has been growing really fast. Did you anticipate this kind of reception?
“Yes and no haha.
We’ve been growing aggressively and we’ve been able to smash all the targets we were given in record time, we’re not able to share numbers yet but just by looking at this quarter, we have surpassed even our very ambitious targets.
The no comes in because when you’re launching a new product, there’s always the uncertainty of how it will do in a new market, but our customers have proved us wrong.
We have more than 500 active riders, these are the guys who check the app for orders and work several hours in a day, but the bigger pool is at least 1500 riders. In terms of where we deliver, we have Nairobi, Kitengela, Nakuru and Mombasa.
We’re not just looking to expand, we’re looking to grow sustainably. Let me give you an example of the perfect city, Nairobi. People are busy and traffic is intense. Then driving isn’t the best option and walking from point to point becomes tideous especially with several things to do in a day. So Glovo comes in by delivering convenience; and convenience at affordable rates for that matter. Delivery for food is Kshs 50 then anything else goes for Kshs 100 (of course depending on location) and no one is giving you such rates in Nairobi.
Leveraging the power of logistics
“Think of the customer. The typical Nairobi resident. You’ve got people with early mornings and late nights. Half the time, you have to leave the house early to get to work on time, so you haven’t had breakfast and you really don’t want to spend almost Kshs 1000 for breakfast when you can get it at Kshs 150. So we give a practical solution: we have a range of restaurants that can give you variety for much less.
We also have an ordering culture. Look at Kenyans and Netflix, Showmax, Amazon. Then look at the convenience that is M-PESA, number of mobile devices and the speed of internet in our country. Put everything and give your audience a service that works for them.”
Didn’t you feel you were getting into an already saturated space?
“One could say that. But when you look at it from an age of digital disruption, you either innovate or get wiped out. Traditional couriers can charge up to about Kshs 400 for delivery. Taxis to the airport from the CBD, Kshs 3000. Think of the time when mobile phones came in and landlines just disappeared.
The future is changing so yes, someone might see that we got into a saturated space but we came in with a difference. No one was charging Kshs 50 for delivery, no one was charging Kshs 100 for courier services across Nairobi in kilometres and then came the factor of speed. We did a number of tests and looked at how fast is this delivery service.
Some people claimed to have faster deliveries but if you go on the ground and look at how many deliveries are actually fast, they were quite a few. Customers also wanted better, and more variety than what they got. We give the option of food from various restaurants [you can get food from McFrys or Artcaffe if you want to], shopping from supermarkets, drinks, courier, general shopping, diapers and other essential baby needs and basically anything else you might want delivered.
The variety is also incredibly ridiculous
People choose different restaurants for different reasons. You can choose whatever depending on money, food or an event and the fact that we have such a wide variety means customers can get more for less on ONE app. If you look at the number of food apps we have on our phones, you’d be shocked. What every business is doing is getting into the age of getting an app. So you find you have like 10 different apps for different things – I personally think Nairobi has too many food apps. You also have supermarkets getting into this space but it’s a hit and miss for most. Different people have tried to deliver and it’s not the same. They do groceries well but we do logistics better.”
I really loved the diaper option btw. Not many realize how frustrating it is for a mother to run out of diapers in the house.
“This is exactly what we thought. Apart from the usual items one would choose, we saw an overlooked group of people. Mothers. In this case, mother’s who are already amazing at raising their kids, looking after the home and working/running a business. Sometimes these situations come up when you least expect them. You reach in for a diaper in the diaper bag and there’s only one left and diapers are like medicine, if you need them, you actually can’t go on without them.
What we did was add the option and have it right there as you open the app. This removes the hassle of going two or three extra steps to get to this option because when you’re going online to shop for diapers, it’s an emergency, and you don’t have the time to start manoeuvring the app.
Our goal is between opening the app & placing the order, you only go through 3 clicks. Open the app, select the store, select the product them check out. The shorter the better.
We initially started with Pampers but we’ve increased the option to other brands, and other products like Cerelac to suit baby needs.”
One of the things I didn’t understand is how I order for something and the rider comes with the product then pay. How does this work?
“Every morning, a rider is given ‘float’. A certain amount of money depending on various options. For example a new rider would get less as opposed to someone who does multiple deliveries in a day but the amount is increased as their time with us increases. So if you order, he or she will pay for the item with the float, which we prefer to give via M-PESA because it’s easier, safer and more convenient, then get the cash from the customer plus delivery fee.
We also have a system where if a rider does a certain amount of rides in a day they get a bonus. They get a plus for carrying our branded bag, working when it’s raining or at peak hours, turning up for deliveries after booking slots, good behaviour and others.
We also have riders who have full time jobs who deliver to supplement their day job. We even have a big chunk of students in campus looking for extra money and even one who speaks Fluent French and does delivery with his superbike.
You recently partnered with Simbisa brands and have hundreds of other partners on board, Being a multi-category delivery app has required you to get into partnerships with relatively unknown local brands. What does this model mean for both parties involved?
“Restaurants benefit mainly because they open up a new channel of customers. The restaurant doesn’t have to invest in space, rent, money on branding etc if you have customers online. It’s an [extra] digital store that runs perfectly on less, which is a big win for them.
The other thing they win at is unfortunately customers run on the same patterns. If you look at breakfast, lunchtime and dinner time, most restaurants in the CBD are full. If you come in to a restaurant and find it full, you won’t stick around for a table to open up, you’ll go to another one. In this case, if a customer doesn’t want to make the trip to their favourite restaurant, they can go online and order from the comfort of their homes/offices without the hassle of traffic and loud spaces.
The restaurant wins when they also sell big at non-peak hours. Between the hours of breakfast, lunch and dinner, they’ll still make sales without the extra cost because very many young people are online. They also have longer opening hours so if you don’t have a car and you want late night food or drinks, you can’t use a matatu because it’s not safe, cabs are expensive and most boda boda riders have gone home. Here you’re getting a service that will get you what you want, within the range of the app of course.
Working hours for the restaurants get longer at less cost and the customer gets their food/drink at their convenience. Win-win.”
it’s a definite win-win for them and the customer as well.