Barcelona, Spain-based food delivery service Glovo has inked a deal with Switzerland-based real estate firm Stoneweg. The latter will invest €100 million (~$121 million USD) to help Glovo expand its network of ghost convenience stores.
As part of the deal, Glovo will occupy the Stoneweg real estate locations for an unspecified period of time. Stoneweg will build and refurbish these real estate locations in key Glovo markets to help the delivery service expand its reach with these delivery-only convenience stores. Right now include Spain, Italy, Portugal, and Romania, with other European countries planned for the future. Glovo intends to have 100 different locations by the end of 2021. It has just 18 right now.
Glovo launched convenience store delivery in 2019 as a way to stand out from other Europe-based competitors (e.g., Delivery Hero). The company’s promise is to deliver goods one might find at a convenience store in 30 minutes or less to customers’ doorsteps. To do that, the Glovo operates these dark convenience stores from which customers can only order online.
The company’s increased focus on quick convenience store delivery — what it calls “Q-Commerce” — is at least partly in response to the pandemic’s impact on how consumers get food items and household goods. Certain countries, such as Spain and Italy, have had far stricter lockdowns during the pandemic than many U.S. states. Those restrictions around leaving one’s house have in turn created an environment where it makes more sense to order groceries, snacks, and household goods for delivery, rather than venture out oneself.
That said, Europe isn’t alone in this shift towards ghost convenience stores. Most Notably, DoorDash began operating its own version of the concept in the U.S. in 2020. In South Korea, customers can even get convenience store goods delivered by robots courtesy of LG.
For its part, Glovo believes these dark stores are the future of retail, hence the company’s new deal with Stoneweg. According to Bloomberg, Glovo’s Q-commerce orders have grown 300 percent from one year ago, and the company plans to hire 500 people for the Q-commerce business by the end of the year.