Following the unveiling of Deliveroo’s new non-food delivery platform, chief operating officer Eric French speaks to Retail Week about what the new service can offer customers, its new partnerships and becoming a destination for last-minute Christmas gifts

Eric French, COO of Deliveroo

Eric French: ‘As much as Deliveroo is a food delivery service, it is a convenient service that applies to a wide range of categories’

Since launching as an online takeaway platform in 2013, Deliveroo has developed its services to offer groceries and non-food items, with notable partners including Asda, the Co-op and Morrisons.

It set up its grocery offering in 2018 and took on chief operating officer Eric French in 2020. He previously worked at Amazon for 15 years working on the grocery and consumer side of the business.

As Deliveroo’s grocery offering expands, the ecommerce business is now embarking on a new journey with the launch of Deliveroo Shopping, offering customers the choice to shop from a wide range of categories in the app.

With the new service in its early stages, French spoke to Retail Week about the opportunities for Deliveroo beyond the humble weekend takeaway.

What prompted Deliveroo to venture beyond takeaway food?

“In 2018, which predates my arrival at Deliveroo, we had the idea to run a small test pilot of listing a handful of grocery items on the platform, through a partnership we did with the Co-op. Many people thought it was going to be just a late-night beers and snacks sort of business but what emerged was really interesting. 

“In a pretty short amount of time, some of the top-selling items were things like chicken, eggs,  milk and banana bread. So it evolved from emergency groceries into an everyday convenience model. The grocery business is now a very large part of Deliveroo as it’s 11% of our top-line sales.”

Deliveroo Shopping has launched – what does it have to offer?

“So with Deliveroo shopping – the current assortment is in no way reflective of the scale of our ambitions but we’re currently offering customers things from electronics to gifts to flowers to toys to DIY, all with the convenience of the Deliveroo delivery model. 

“If you go on the app and open up Morrisons, for example, you’ll see a great range of Lego skews that we have, which we’re super excited to have heading into the Christmas season. We’ve also been hard at work signing up a bunch of high street independents including local gifting shops, local flower shops and partners across a bunch of categories.

“We are excited to be offering Screwfix on the platform in the coming weeks and there’s going to be several other brands on the platform soon. So it’s working with grocers to expand their range, working with high street independence and then also working with these big brands.”

Has there been a customer demand for Deliveroo Shopping?

“Yes, customers have been telling us that they want to come on Deliveroo and buy more than just food. We spent a lot of time looking at the search data on Deliveroo and obviously, they’re searching for grocery items like milk, but we’ve also seen customers searching for things like lightbulbs, screwdrivers, gifts and scented candles.

“So that was really eye-opening for us and has helped us solidify this perspective that as much as Deliveroo is a food delivery service, it is a convenient service that applies to a wide range of categories.”

Do you expect customers to shop on the platform for the festive season?

“We certainly hope so. One of the places where we’ve added the most assortment and the most partners is gifts as we see a big opportunity – maybe for people like me who leave gift shopping until the last minute – to come onto the platform and buy emergency gifts. We see an opportunity for customers to come to Deliveroo and receive quick delivery on last-minute gifts, so we’re very excited about this.”

Are there plans to expand Deliveroo Hop?

“We already have some sites in the UK, France, Italy, UAE and Hong Kong and we’re really pleased with the customer experience that we’ve been able to create. Some of our most engaged customers are the ones we see coming through Hop. We’ve also taken a kind of methodical and disciplined approach which has enabled us to really focus on getting each of these right and we’re continuing to develop that rollout.”

What’s next for Deliveroo?

“With Deliveroo Shopping, this is one of the absolutely biggest things we are doing right now as a company. It is my top priority, it’s one of the top priorities for the company and one of the top priorities for the board. 

“So building this business, partnering with retailers from big national and multinational chains to the local independents, getting these partners on the site, making sure they have a good experience, making sure our customers have a good experience and all of the operational excellence involved means it is our top priority, as well as continuing to grow our grocery business.”