Time Versus Money: How the German Unicorn Gorillas Revolutionises the Grocery Industry

The CEMS News Review, launched by CEMS Club Vienna, is an international initiative to share students' opinion pieces on hot topics. This weeks article is from Melanie Bittner of CEMS Club Cologne.
Melanie Bittner

Gorillas aren't just for zoos

Up until a few months ago, the only thing that came to my mind when hearing Gorillas were childhood memories of visits to the zoo. Recently, however, a German start-up gave that name a different notion and made Gorillas the fastest unicorn in Germany ever, reaching a valuation of over 1 billion in only 9 months. So what is it about this start-up that attracted unmatched investors' confidence in these extraordinary circumstances? And can the business model sustain in post-Covid times, marking a lasting revolution to the grocery industry with global impact?

Gorillas is an on-demand grocery delivery company, founded in Berlin in May 2020 and built on the promises to fulfil deliveries within 10 minutes. Customers place their order via an app to be forwarded to the nearest distribution centre, where the order is packed and delivered by bike riders. Initially only available in few cities, Gorillas expanded its network to 26 cities in 4 countries and continues with ambitious growth prospects.

Winning in Time vs Money

What is it that made the company’s business model so successful? First, contact minimization and home delivery are an attractive promise in pandemic times and lockdown restrictions. But in my opinion Gorillas essentially offers more: a trade of time for money, attractive also in post-crisis times. The convenience of use and instant delivery spares customers the walk to the supermarket, stray through the aisles and frustrating waiting time at queued cashier desks. Instead, customers can spend the time previously used to integrate grocery shopping in their daily schedule in more pleasant ways, while paying only a small surcharge on their orders.

Building on a successful model

From a broader perspective, Gorillas’ business model could be the next revolution to the grocery industry after the introduction of the discounter business of Aldi. Aldi was the first to introduce self-service in supermarkets and to offer products at unparalleled low prices. In return for the price discount, customers had to give up on the convenience of being served and instead pick the groceries themselves, thereby essentially trading time for money. Nowadays, Gorillas reverses this trade and offers time-savings for small price surcharges. Valuing time over money reflects a broader trend in society, especially in millennials’ attitude, that likewise manifests itself in rising popularity of sabbaticals, expanded holidays, or the four-day work week. In my opinion, Gorillas takes the same line and thus is here to stay beyond the crisis.

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