We are Sick and Tired of Waiting so Q’ing is Going to Replace Queuing


Q-commerce (Quick Commerce) retailers like Gorillas and Jiffy are exposing the ‘snail pace’ response of e-commerce by delivering grocery and essential items to homes in less than an hour! Not content with this advantage, their competitors are fiercely responding – with operators promising to be there in less than 15 mins!

Q-commerce is already taking a significant bite out of the £40b* C-store market and has the potential to damage the hospitality and grocery sectors, because it’s better on many levels.

A number of key questions answered…

Julian Grindey is an energising and inspirational MD/COO/Trading Director, and a UK-based Associate of Prof. Consulting Group. Julian is skilled in leading profitable change and transformation, inspiring strategic vision and commercial delivery, and in driving retail and digital growth. Proven in delivering exceptional growth from turnarounds and scale up, in key omni-channel operators, including private label and international product sourcing strategy.


Q-commerce is a natural evolution from e-commerce. Lifestyles are changing as is customer behaviour, meaning speed and convenience is even more important than ever before.

The characteristics and benefits of q-commerce become clearer when compared to e-commerce:

e-commerce – a wide product range that takes days to deliver by truck from a large distribution centre.

q-commerce – delivery takes minutes from a scooter or bike but the customer has a narrow assortment to select which may be picked in store or from a ‘dark store’.


So far 3 types of q-commerce operators have emerged and are characterised here:          

    • Aggregators – 3rd party websites that offer home delivery (like Deliveroo and Instacart); distinct from marketplaces because the operators often set their own price and branding.
          • These are agile, rapid deployment and low-cost partnerships– for the retailer they pick and pack in-store. The Delivery partner is the ‘final miler’
          • The retailer has little control over customer experience and shares profit with the partner. These relationships are usually short-term staging post for the retailer to test, learn and develop their own in-house solution.
    • Pure-plays – These operators hold stock in ‘dark stores’; set up in densely populated urban areas and deliver as fast as 15 mins (think ‘Gorillas’, ‘Fridge no more’ and Jiffy).
          • Often VC funded and growing fast. These brands tailor their ranges to the neighbourhood and focus on wholesalers for supply.
    • Retailers – are developing their own models which use robotics or in-store picking. Watch out for Sainsbury’s ‘Chop Chop’, Ocado’s ‘zoom’ and most recently Tesco’s version called ‘whoosh’.
          • Threatening the C-store – these retailers pick despatch from store or use a dark store (Ocado plans to introduce 12 micro fulfilment centres) following innovations seen in China from Alibaba’s grocery brand ‘fresh hippo’.

So, how is Q-commerce developing in the UK?

Deliveroo and Uber eats are well-known players in the on-demand home delivery market and the pandemic enabled the ‘pivot’ into grocery delivery.

The surge in demand stimulated several new entrants to join them in the UK, and VC financing backing has created opportunities to fuel the growth. The market is developing fast in 5 key aspects:

      • Acquisition – Growing to scale rapidly and building a well-known brand creates a distinct advantage. The sector is crowded, and mergers and acquisitions are becoming commonplace.
      • Shifting geographic focus – Pure-plays like Gorilla, originally set up base in London. As the consumer awareness improves these players will expand into 2nd and 3rd tier cities.
      • Retailers emerging – 3 of the top 6 grocers are developing concepts with others scrambling to board.
      • Partnerships – Retailers have focused on partnering with aggregators, outsourcing the delivery to experts.
      • Price advantage –Quick commerce pricing is compelling when compared to convenience stores and pure-plays.


Quick commerce Customer characteristics?

      • A younger demographic –Originally centred around London but unsurprisingly spreading geographically as grocers launch their own offerings.
      • Low spending -Quick commerce transactions average £31 compared to £70 for an average on-line grocery shop.
      • The convenience shopping mission– The ‘need it now’ mission includes food to go, evening meal and top-up.
      • Popular products–the most popular categories are bakery, dairy, chilled, OTC medicines and alcohol.
      • Essential– pandemic has forced customers to adopt Quick commerce, but research found that 70% of those who have used it will use it again*.


So how will it evolve?

Delivery speed – For a service that differentiated itself on delivery in less than 1-hour new standards are being set. Real-time product availability, choice, impulse and convenience will follow.

Barriers to growth – delivery charges and geographic coverage will slow customer adoption which will be neutralised by investment in cash and efficiencies.

Capturing market share – The short-term prize is £3.3b (approaching 10%) of the rapid growth on-line grocery sales channel. Conquer this and they will move on to other sectors.



Those ignoring the potential can expect their sales to suffer; those taking advantage, can ride the crest of the wave.

Many organisations won’t have the energy or expertise to take their business forward and survive the tide of change; and if they don’t, they need someone who does.

Julian Grindey is a retail leader. He can be contacted to discuss either on or

PR Newswire
*Statista 2020
**Institute of Grocery Distribution (IGD) 2021.