As the boundaries between retail and restaurant delivery continue to blur, Philadelphia-based Gopuff wants to be the next big on-demand industry disruptor. Gopuff started out as mainly a hookah and convenience store goods delivery platform, but now has expanded to include groceries, alcohol delivery, in-house virtual restaurants, and most recently, ghost kitchen partnerships with major foodservice brands like BurgerFi.
But is Gopuff stretching itself too thin compared to other delivery companies that have tried to specialize in a particular category? Amelia Riba, vice president of Gopuff Kitchen, believes that being at the intersection of all these industries is a competitive strength:
“We have the food, we prep it, we work with partners […] we're the ones that are controlling the quality, the food and the cost, and we’re the ones transporting the food,” Riba said. “[…] The beauty of Gopuff is that you can order pet food, shampoo, milk and a pizza and get it delivered all together for one delivery fee.”
Riba said that the company has two types of kitchens: the first are the indoor kitchens located inside the company’s micro-fulfillment centers that can handle the organization, operations and delivery of all verticals. The second is Gopuff Kitchen: these trailers are attached to the micro-fulfillment centers and house GoPuff's nascent virtual restaurant offerings, from burgers, pizza and wings, to milkshakes to coffee.
Gopuff’s Mean Tomato pizza brand, which launched in May, was the company’s first foray into virtual restaurant brands, and is only available via the Gopuff platform. The simple menu of classic pizzas is available wherever Gopuff micro-fulfillment centers with attached kitchens are located (currently, Miami, Phoenix, Philadelphia and New York City). Mean Tomato's menu incorporates ingredients from Gopuff’s consumer packaged goods partnerships, including Truff hot sauce and Mike’s Hot Honey, which are both available as toppings on the pizzas.
“We like to hear what the customer wants to see from Gopuff,” Riba said about the company’s CPG partnerships. “What are they interested in? […] We work with suppliers to develop a product and then we just put it in there to see how it does. And if it does great, then we'll develop a brand, or we might find an external partner, but obviously we’re always making sure we are the ones making it in house.”
Gopuff’s first big external restaurant brand partnership, with BurgerFi, also launched in May in Tallahassee. After a successful pilot with the "Fi on the Fly" food truck that was stationed outside of a fulfillment center and catered mostly to students in the area, the BurgerFi partnership is going national. Gopuff will soon deliver BurgerFi’s burgers and fries to customers in a dozen cities in the company's network, including Miami, New York City, Nashville and Philadelphia. BurgerFi will also be available through more than 30 Gopuff Fresh Food Hall locations (Gopuff’s virtual food hall) around the country, even in locations where there are no brick-and-mortar BurgerFi stores.
“We learned [through the pilot] that many customers were really interested in ordering BurgerFi through the Gopuff app,” Riba said. “We’re working with all of their ingredients and recipes and incorporate it into our kitchen. We’re making sure we’re the ones producing the products. So now you can order Mean Tomato pizza and BurgerFi burgers all in one order and we can ship it together because we’re fully vertically integrated.”
This, Riba said, is what differentiates Gopuff from the third-party delivery platforms, which the company does not want to be directly compared to. By using their own kitchens and micro-fulfillment centers, Gopuff is a closer cousin to ghost kitchen technology platform, Reef.
“Aggregators only transport the food from point A to point B,” Riba said. “They can’t control the quality. […] But we’re a mixture of everything.”
By taking bits and pieces of operational strategies and capabilities from third-party delivery platforms like Grubhub and DoorDash, as well as borrowing from ghost kitchen tech platforms like Kitchen United and Reef, Gopuff is carving out a “jack of all trades” niche within the booming delivery industry.
The company has also begun working with young celebrities relevant to the Gen. Z generation, including a partnership with YouTuber Emma Chamberlain earlier this year in which Gopuff created and sold coffee drinks using the young star’s coffee beans, and more recently, a partnership with Stranger Things star, Noah Schnapp, to use his vegan hazelnut spread, TBH, in Gopuff’s in-house milkshakes menu.
The limited-time partnership, which launched in June and ran through July, featured strawberry, chocolate and espresso milkshakes made with Schnapp’s TBH vegan hazelnut spread. Like all of Gopuff’s products and partnerships, the company controls the quality, output, and delivery of each of item.
“We've tackled the biggest categories: pizza, burgers, wings, and chicken,” Riba said. “We also have coffee, which is great for the morning day part, but there is an opportunity to build out a breakfast platform. […] We also want to start getting into the healthy space with salads and wraps and sandwiches. […] 2022 is all about nailing down our vision and defining our products.”
Up next for Gopuff? In 2023, expect the brand to begin scaling nationally and opening micro-fulfillment centers in all major markets across the U.S.
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