Dark delivery innovating food delivery

Dark delivery innovating food delivery
(Image credit: Pixabay)

Online shopping is shaping on-demand services. Once it was all about ecommerce websites and credit card processing, but now delivery services are getting smarter, and online food delivery is becoming the next big target.

Dark delivery refers to purpose-built spaces for delivery direct to the consumer. Dark Kitchens are one such example - offering an effective alternative for restaurants to expand into new areas without having the same overheads as opening a restaurant on the high street. Companies such as Deliveroo have recently opened a cluster of small professional workspaces that allow restaurants to serve consumer demand for home delivery without over-stretching existing sites. 

Another example of innovation in dark delivery is dark stores and supermarkets - purpose-built retail facilities that resemble a conventional supermarket or other stores, but not open to the public, housing goods used to fulfil orders placed online.

About the author

Mustafa Sezgin is the VP of Engineering at Glovo.

How will it benefit consumers? 

The rapid delivery time of groceries is achieved through our network of proprietary warehouses – stocking fresh produce, groceries and everyday items such as health & beauty and household goods – enabling couriers to cater to city dwellers’ grocery needs with ease and speed.

Our dark supermarkets are stocked with over 2,500 different goods ready to be delivered to consumers within minutes of an order being placed. For example, if you have a sick child, and are in desperate need of over-the-counter medicine, the dark supermarket model means that you can receive it without leaving the house. 

How will it benefit drivers?

We’re not only focused on how we can ensure a seamless experience for our customers, but also the 36,000 couriers - known as ‘Glovers’. We are always looking for ways to help improve their own experience to ensure they can get the very most out of working through the platform. 

One of the largest bug-bears for delivery drivers is the waiting time at restaurants and stores. Many restaurants simply aren’t equipped to balance demand both from guests in the restaurant and external orders - and usually, it’s the restaurant diners that are prioritised. However, all the time that is spent waiting for orders, cuts into the number of deliveries that drivers can make and the amount that they can earn.

The very existence of dark kitchens and stores goes part of the way to solving that problem, as the staff at these locations are focused solely on preparing deliveries. We are already starting to implement a ‘McDonalds Drive Thru’ experience, where couriers arrive at a dark store, and the order is waiting. 

Machine learning with dark delivery

We use machine learning to optimise delivery times by making sure that the closest courier to the customer is selected, in real-time, so that we can deliver items as fast as possible. 

For example, artificial intelligence allows us to calculate how long it will take for an order to be ready, how long it will take for the courier to collect and then how long it will take the courier to deliver (both based on the location of the restaurant/store in relation to the user’s address). We can also use machine learning to compare stock levels in our dark supermarkets to consumer demand to ensure that stores are appropriately stocked during peak times.  

This technology is essential for the management of deliveries in real-time. At Glovo, we can see “two orders in advance” for each courier. This allows us to make predictions while remaining flexible, splitting orders between different couriers based on their proximity to partners and users, and increasing operational efficiency - all to ensure the best and fastest delivery”

The future innovation in the delivery space

Disruption of the retail grocery industry is already at play and we believe it will massively accelerate over the coming years. We’re seeing more and more personalisation within the delivery sector and that requires a better understanding of customer needs. 

We expect delivery times to continue to decrease and we’re constantly striving to push this time down by implementing technology for our dark store workers in, for example, large warehouses, to be able to find goods electronically without ever having to manually search. 

Furthermore, with the rise of the Internet of Things (IoT) and interconnected devices, we could see integration with the likes of Alexa and Google Home products in the future, with orders being placed through voice-enabled devices. Or, in our dark stores, for instance, fridges automatically requesting supplies to ensure that nothing is ever ‘out of stock’ - the innovations are endless.


Mustafa Sezgin is the VP of Engineering at Glovo.

Mustafa Sezgin

Mustafa Sezgin is the VP of Engineering at Glovo. He is the technical leader who enjoys building scalable systems and high performing engineering teams. With expertise in globally scalable systems and developer/platform tooling, I have spent over a decade in the engineering industry around the world and am currently leading the engineering team at Glovo, making everything accessible to everyone in cities all around the world.