Can artisan quality and convenience coexist? These businesses think so

16 November 2021, 11:13 AM
  • The convenience market is growing post-lockdown, and innovative businesses are seeking to show how fine food can meet customers’ demands
Can artisan quality and convenience coexist? These businesses think so

Food delivery businesses were one of the rare bright spots of the Covid-19 pandemic as consumers enjoyed the convenience of having their shopping or a weekend meal delivered straight to their door. But it wasn’t just fast food, takeaways and the multiples who benefitted from online ordering. London-based Weezy, which offers hyper-local grocery delivery through a fleet of bicycle and electric moped couriers, believes that artisan-quality food and quick deliveries can go hand in hand.

Data gathered by Weezy over the last six months has shown that its customers are using its platform to order premium ingredients from local, artisanal businesses like fresh fruit and vegetables from local grocers, sourdough bread from local bakeries, and quality meat from local butchers.

Across London, Weezy found that 80% of the top 20 products purchased were fresh fruit and vegetables as consumers sought a convenient alternative to takeaways. For instance, one of Weezy’s popular options is a ready-made basket of ingredients for creating healthy, seasonal soups. “There are so many healthy recipes that are quick and simple to make, and the convenience of having the fresh and healthy ingredients delivered to your door makes all the difference to our customers,” said Kate McCutcheon, vice president of retail at Weezy.

The convenience sector is set to continue growing to a value of £47.1bn in 2024, up from £43.2bn this year, Weezy said, and according to Kantar’s recent meal delivery report, more consumers today are using meal deliveries because of the convenience factor.

Taking a slice of the convenience market

To take advantage of this market, more and more fine food businesses are getting involved with deliveries. Peter Georgiou, founder and CEO of SUPPER London, which offers delivery services for high-end restaurants and shops, explained to Speciality Food that premium food and speedy deliveries aren’t mutually exclusive. Indeed, he said, fast delivery options offer a new opportunity for brick-and-mortar retailers. 

“Delivery services have access to highly-engaged, loyal customers. For instance, SUPPER London’s database comprises over 100,000 clients living or working within some of London’s chicest postcodes, ordering from retailers including Harrods and Fortnum & Mason,” Peter said. “This can represent a significant additional revenue channel for fine food retailers alongside existing bricks-and-mortar operations, with the option to pause during busy periods. Thus, delivery services offer an on-demand and cost-effective way to reach a wider customer pool without the logistical and financial burdens of investing in their own platform or delivery fleet, all without compromising on quality.”

Ana Martins, co-founder and CEO of online marketplace Pantree, launched her shop with husband Mark Jones to make shopping small more convenient than ever. She said it is important for fine food to tap into the e-commerce opportunity. “From Michelin meal kits to fresh bread on subscription, the British public have learned that online shopping is no barrier to a high-end experience,” she told Speciality Food.

But translating the artisan retail experience to a website takes a special touch. “If customers can no longer pick up and inspect a product when deciding to purchase, the online experience must effectively celebrate the product and the artisan behind it,” Ana said. “At Pantree, this takes on two main forms. First, we only partner with a curated selection of exceptional small businesses – so our community knows that we’re really standing behind the quality of every product. Then, we ensure that every product page really tells a story, communicating what makes that product and the people who make it special.”

However, if a retailer prefers to partner with a delivery service rather than create their own, Peter suggests that they think carefully before committing. “Consider if they reflect your elevated brand identity and commitment to exceptional service. Do they consider their environmental and sustainability commitments? Equally important is having confidence in the ethicality of their employment procedures,” he adds. “Not only is this a moral approach to business but this also safeguards your own brand reputation,” he said.

As customers continue ramping up their expectations for convenient shopping options, fine food retailers can ensure they deliver by offering a fresh take on ‘fast food’.

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