“Customers keep telling us that fresh food is important to them, and that they can’t get to the supermarket or food market themselves. We do that for you,” Kassel said.
With supermarkets continually added to the list of Covid-19 exposure sites and only one member of the household advised to undertake essential grocery trips in Sydney, the lockdown provided an opportunity to grow Pretty Green’s presence beyond the Northern Beaches.
“I realised I needed to get the business off the ground faster in order to help more people and families stuck at home,” he said.
How does it work?
While premium market produce is a big focus, Pretty Green has also included some popular “big brands” to ensure it can be a viable option for consumers.
“We provide all your weekly groceries at low prices, free delivery with no minimum spend and an exceptional delivery service,” Kassel told Inside Retail. “There’s no [other] supermarket that offers free delivery with no minimum spend.”
But he admits it’s a complex operation to manage. So, how does it work?
Customers can place orders for next day delivery to 8pm the evening prior. Pretty Green places orders with suppliers by 9pm and they are delivered to its warehouse overnight. At 7am the next morning, Pretty Green’s ‘runners’ begin distributing the products to customers within their chosen two-hour window from 7am to 9pm, seven days a week.
By only ordering the exact amount needed for the next day, food waste is minimised. Additionally, as part of efforts to operate sustainably, delivery boxes are taken away with drivers, leaving no packaging behind, and deliveries are carbon offset, with a new fleet of electric vans to be introduced in the near future.
While demand is hot, Kassel wants to grow sustainably, only expanding into areas where there is an appetite for the business. He is doing so through a queuing system, where customers download the app and register their suburb for delivery.
“The more people we have registered in a suburb, the faster we are able to unlock it,” he said.
Currently, Pretty Green has one 250 sq ft dark store from which it manages deliveries, but on entering a new region, it plans to open a local distribution centre to manage deliveries more effectively and sustainably.
“It’s not very sustainable, say, for one Coke to drive from Northern Beaches to Bondi, so that’s why we have the queuing system to really make sure we grow sustainably and also always provide the best service to our customers,” he said.
“We have registrations from Greater Sydney, down to Wollongong, up to the Central Coast. We even have people registering from Queensland and Victoria. The demand is there, and we are growing quite quickly.”
Bigger and faster
According to the Financial Times, $14 billion was invested into on-demand grocery delivery services globally in 2020, with more funding during the first three months of 2021 than the whole of last year.
As managing director of digital agency Haimat, Kassel’s background in logistics was a big benefit in getting Pretty Green off the ground, allowing the development of the iOS and Android apps in house.
But to date, the project has been self funded. Kassel is hopeful that with further investment the business can expand to more states.
“We really want to grow quickly. It’s a space that is very in demand, not just in America and Europe, delivery services get a big push in Australia as well. We know that speed is critical so we will look in the near future for investment in order to get our processes right, fast and expand very quickly,” he said.
In order to scale up effectively, improvements are needed in technology, warehouse management systems, content management systems, inventory and route planning, he explained.
“That is the next step. We just launched two months ago and I thought we launched with a really good product, but it can be improved a lot.”
While Sydney-based for now, Pretty Green aims to have distribution centres in all states in the future, with plans underway for more product lines and a six-minute delivery offer.
“We are currently focused on our Sydney operations and hope by the end of next year to be everywhere in Sydney,” he said.
“We have our eye on expanding outside of Sydney as growth allows it, but there is so much we still need to optimise. We want to deliver within six minutes in the future, so we really want to make sure that we are as efficient as possible before we [expand].”