After the pandemic accelerated new consumer habits worldwide, an increasing number of service stations and convenience stores have entered the last mile delivery space. By offering items for delivery or pickup, retailers are leveraging their convenient locations and expanding services. What role do stations play in delivery platforms and how is this integration shaping today’s business?

Over the last decade, online delivery platforms have become an established service, driving the consolidation of app-based on-demand services across different industries. Just a few years ago, the pandemic triggered an unprecedented growth in this sector, prompting an expansion into other markets, including the convenience store industry. The food delivery sector has more than tripled since 2017, becoming a global market worth over $200 billion, according to Grand View Research.

Retailers have been leveraging this growth by partnering with tech companies and adding service stations to platforms. Customers can order products from convenience stores, complement their food orders with a snack or beverage, or even pick up items onsite.

Delivery through service stations

What began as a service for restaurants has now expanded into sectors beyond food offerings. Now anyone can order dinner, buy a snack, over-the-counter medicine or even household products on the same platform. This development has led fuel and convenience retailers to go beyond brick and mortar retail. Delivery services are broadening their scopes to keep their footing in a market that is poised to generate more than $500 billion in revenue by 2030.

Retailers around the world have been establishing partnerships with delivery platforms for years now. A good example of a complete partnership is the current global agreement between bp and UberEats, which will see the addition of over 3,000 locations to the platform over the next three years. This collaboration also includes the introduction of delivery options onto bp’s own app, BPme, enhancing both operations and touch points with customers.

A number of partnerships saw their implementations accelerated due to the pandemic. EnergyLíder, Ecuador’s Shell licensee, had to speed up a six-month strategy into a three-week period. As explained by Fernando Suraty, Marketing Manager of the company, they “could no longer rely on customers being at the store.”

Ghost kitchens also show good potential for the delivery sector. This trend gained popularity during the pandemic and consists of separate kitchens established both on and off-site when order-volume is too high for a single site to handle. With Kroger furthering its partnership with Kitchen United, the concept’s effectiveness can provide new synergies between delivery services and stores.

These types of collaborations are based on the retail offer and convenient locations of these sites, bringing customers and products even closer. As partnerships keep gaining momentum, delivery companies focus on expanding operations in an effort to grow their revenue channels and meet investor expectations.

Delivering the future

Leading players around the world are betting on innovation to step up their game as tech giants like Amazon and Uber extend their grasp on the food delivery market. Wolt, a Helsinki-based technology company recently acquired by DoorDash, has experienced this growth in operations and seeks to continue its evolution.

Operating in 25 countries around the world, most of them in Europe, the delivery company expanded into the convenience store market in 2020. “Our vision is to build a shopping mall in people’s pockets and bring the most valued services to them in about 30 minutes or so,” says Francisco Roffo, Strategy and Business Operations Manager, Global Retail at Wolt.

“Today you can get everything from groceries to pharmacy products and beyond. We work with thousands of non-restaurant partners and can clearly see that quick deliveries are becoming more and more popular,” explains Roffo. In addition to enhancing the customer experience, last year the firm created two new tech hubs in Tel Aviv and Stockholm to ramp up its product development and unlock the potential of new business lines.

Wolt has also developed other services for users, including subscriptions, office deliveries of meals for companies, and a platform for merchants with their own delivery staff. “Our teams develop a wide range of technologies from local logistics to retail software and financial solutions. For example, we’ve built a tool that helps store personnel pick ordered items more accurately and efficiently,” adds Roffo.

Upgrading and expanding a platform’s service can also mean new opportunities for fuel retailers to leverage. While previous examples focus on a forecourt’s role as new and convenient retail locations, drivers themselves also represent a good opportunity for cooperation between both sectors.

Wolt is betting on innovation to create and drive new business lines across the globe.