Gopuff is pushing beyond convenience items with a growing number of hyper-efficient ghost kitchens. With its latest program focused on prepared foods, the speedy C-store disruptor is becoming the digital equivalent of a corner mart or bodega with a tiny kitchen in the corner.
Gopuff Kitchen builds on the functionality of Bandit, a ghost coffee shop in Austin, and the company has already served “hundreds of thousands” of meals through the platform in Austin, Miami, Nashville and Philadelphia.
“Gopuff acquired Bandit, the first mobile-only coffee shop, late last year,” said a representative with the company. “Bandit has a modular kitchen setup that was easily and efficiently installed in small spaces. Max Crowley and James Gallagher, who co-founded Bandit, are now onboard at Gopuff and running our hot and fresh food initiative, Gopuff Kitchen.”
The kitchens are small, mobile and electric, meaning Gopuff can put them next to one of its micro-fulfillment centers or inside existing real estate if there is enough space. Because it’s all modular, they can roll out the kitchens to markets quickly.
Crowley, Gopuff’s vice president of business expansion, said they are very focused on scaling the kitchens to existing markets and new Gopuff markets alike. The big goal is something a lot of the delivery providers are working on: the all-in-one order.
“What really sets Gopuff Kitchen apart is the ability to have everything you need—from beauty and baby products to prepared meals—delivered in one order at any time. You can have coffee, diapers and a breakfast sandwich delivered, or order pizza for dinner for the family along with cleaning supplies or medicine you forgot at the store, and it all comes in the same order in about 30 minutes for a flat $1.95 fee,” said Crowley.
The company is able to do that because Gopuff controls the whole experience. Unlike other ghost kitchens, there are no other app orders coming through, no guests in the front of house to manage and a menu tailored for delivery.
“Thanks to our vertical integration, we have control over the menu, the kitchen and the entire order process. It’s our own team developing the menu, sourcing ingredients, making the food, fulfilling the order and packing it up for delivery. Because we own this process, we can make it as efficient and high quality as possible. Whether it’s an order for essentials or hot food, we’re focused on speed and quality,” said a company representative, noting that many retail orders are pulled in just 90 seconds.
The menu also draws from local favorites. Gopuff partners with local brands, gets the same ingredients and does a bit of a remix with the offering that will work for delivery but keep the local favorite top of mind. In Philadelphia, the company partners with local institution La Columbe Coffee to sell CPG coffee and now brews the same beans for fresh coffee delivery.
“We have focused on expanding our local partnerships over the past year and now have relationships with more than 300 local partners. As a result, we’ve added over 1,100 local SKUs to the platform nationwide. Some of those items are also featured in the local Gopuff Kitchen,” said Crowley. “For our local partners, working with Gopuff Kitchen is net-new business. It’s not cannibalizing their existing business because Gopuff is simply an additional distribution channel that they can sell through, and one that is likely under 20 minutes from their customers. We’re either purchasing their items wholesale or partnering with them to fulfill sales in new ways.”
The company is hiring 10 cooks for each of the kitchens to keep food moving 24 hours a day, which is a big investment for the mostly gig-work company, but Crowley said it’s an investment that may bring new customers and expand frequency.
“Gopuff Kitchen is our first completely new platform. It’s something our customers have expressed interest in and we’re excited that they can now add fresh food items to their orders alongside all the other everyday essentials that we sell,” said Crowley.
Gopuff is fresh off a $1 billion Series H in July led by Blackstone Group.