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Startups E-commerce

Stop Trying to Make Instant Delivery Happen

By  |  Jan. 12, 2022 9:00 AM PST
Photo: Art by Shutterstock; Mike Sullivan

The on-demand goalpost is always moving. Gone are the days when two-day Amazon delivery was a marvel. Now companies including DoorDash and Instacart, plus startups like Jokr and Buyk, are all aiming to deliver in an “instant.”

DoorDash is starting with superfast delivery of roughly 2,000 corner store–type items—snacks and grocery staples like eggs and milk—from a hub in New York’s Chelsea neighborhood. Instacart is looking into contracting a courier company to facilitate rapid deliveries from grocery stores already on its platform. Jokr, which started up in New York in 2021 and is valued by investors at $1.2 billion, promises a “simpler way of shopping that’s less hassle, less ho-hum & more spontaneous.”

There is a lot to question about instant delivery: the logistical challenge of getting groceries to customers in such a short time; the intense cash burn (Jokr reportedly lost a whopping $159 per order this past August); the use of “instant” to describe something that happens in 15 minutes, which is not actually what instant means. But these are secondary matters. The real question is: Why do we need 15-minute delivery?

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