Pop Market, the dark store grocery delivery startup based in Greece, just raised a ~€3 million seed round led by Global Founders Capital and 468 Capital. They are the latest in a wave of delivery businesses that are enjoying the tailwinds of pandemic-driven preferences for online shopping and fast delivery across Europe.
The rise of the dark store: Fulfilling on-demand online orders
Dedicated to serving the increasing demand for online shopping exclusively, dark stores have been deemed the future of post-pandemic retail. Dark stores are meant to fulfill on-demand online orders, serving as warehouses and distribution spaces. Focus is key here: retailers are no longer treating e-commerce as a tangential business, but as a primary market. Dark stores are the logical answer to retailers’ logistical challenges with responding to online orders effectively.
Even in countries with a competitive grocery market, the online and on-demand grocery model is gaining momentum. Berlin-based startup Gorillas, for instance, reached a unicorn status earlier this year, after raising a ~€250M Series B, and recently moved on to a ~€0.86B Series C led by Delivery Hero. Yet the company had only geen founded in May 2020, making it one of the fastest-growing startups in Europe.
Also this year, another German on-demand grocery store, Flink, raised ~€45M in debt and equity. Elsewhere in Europe, Turkish Getir is another pioneer of the model. Most recently, Getir raised ~€474M, reaching a whopping valuation of €6.5 billion.
In Greece, Pop Market is among the first grocery retailers using the dark store, on-demand grocery model. Online shopping market remains largely unexploited, said co-founder Nick Telecki. Less than 2% out of the €11.3 bn grocery market in Greece is online.
The two co-founders had previous experience in the grocery delivery business before launching Pop Market. Nick Telecki was part of Delivery Hero’s global strategy team, while Takis Malavetas is a fast grocery delivery serial entrepreneur, as co-founder of Convibo and Home Run Delivery in the UK.
The startup will operate a network of dark stores in the center of Athens, stocking directly from producers and suppliers, and aims to provide the fastest delivery of grocery, retail, and convenience products in the local market – 15 minutes or less, with no charge, 7 days a week, from 8 a.m. to midnight. To order, shoppers can use Pop Market’s smartphone app.
“Being the only fully dedicated ‘fast-trade’ platform on the market is the only way to truly deliver an unmatched customer experience and capture the shared mind of the consumer,” added the co-founder.
This also points to Pop Market’s first priority: leading in the domestic market, where they want to fill in the shopper expectations’ gap when it comes to delivery times and pricing. Since the pandemic, customers have been turning to smaller and more frequent purchases, a trend that is likely to continue. One of the company’s goals is to cover at least 80% of consumers’ recurring purchases.
With the new funds, the startup is looking to fuel a fast expansion in Greece, scale its supply chain and grow the team. By the end of 2021, the company expects to create 100 jobs.
Other players in the Greek on-demand grocery delivery market include startups like Pockee, which recently ventured into fast delivery under the name PockeeMart. Moreover, a new local player with a Greek founder, Gojet.app, is expected to enter the market this year.
+++ Stay tuned for a deeper analysis of the key trends in online grocery delivery across Southeast Europe. +++