How Delivery Service goPuff Recreates the Impulse-Buy Experience Online

March 31, 2017

Order a snack, a bottle of soda or pet food from on-demand delivery service goPuff, and it’ll arrive at your door in an average of under 30 minutes. eMarketer's Tricia Carr spoke with Daniel Folkman, goPuff’s vice president of business development, at the Millennial 20/20 Summit in New York about the typical customer who uses the service, and how the company creates an environment where impulse buys happen online.

eMarketer: Who is the goPuff customer?

Daniel Folkman: Our customer is an impulse shopper. They might decide they’re hungry and go to the app to order a snack, and then decide to add a soda, paper towels and detergent to their basket.

There’s a misconception that our customers are lazy, but they’re not. They’re busy and they want to multitask. They’re thinking, “I could go to the convenience store but it’ll take me 40 minutes, or I could order on goPuff and accomplish other things while I wait for my order.”

eMarketer: What’s your core demographic, and what have you learned about their shopping habits?

Folkman: Our core customer started as the college kid. Last year we launched alcohol delivery in some markets, and our demographic started to shift older. We also introduced pet food, which shifted it up again. Now our demographic is ages 18 to 35. Our most commonly requested item is diapers. What was once a service for college kids is now a service for everybody. Sometimes the best customer is a young parent who is home alone with their child and it’s difficult to leave the house.

With the introduction of alcohol, there was also an increase in basket size. The customer doesn’t just buy one case of beer. Maybe they’re having friends over, so they throw in some plastic cups and snacks. As we introduce new products and launch in new cities, we also see order frequency increase.

eMarketer: How do you distinguish goPuff from the delivery services that are already out there?

Folkman: First, we are focused purely on the convenience store space. The second differentiator is our business model. We own our inventory, and a lot of other companies do not. This allows us to offer pricing comparable to convenience stores. Our delivery fee is a flat $1.95, and it’s waived after you spend $49. We are open 24 hours in our mature cities and until 4:30am in less mature cities. We have an average of under 30-minute deliveries across the board.

eMarketer: Many of the products available on goPuff are considered impulse items. Typically, a shopper sees an impulse item in a store and buys it on a whim. How does goPuff recreate the impulse-buy experience online?

Folkman: Most importantly, it’s hard to cater to an impulse mentality if you have to wait too long to get something. I can wait two days for a new pair of jeans, but not if I’m craving chocolate. We get orders there quickly enough that you still have a craving when you receive it.

Next is recreating a familiar environment. The customer is used to a certain environment offline, and we spend a lot of time trying to recreate that online by looking at what time of day it is, what time of week it is, what the customer is going through and what’s going on that week—for example, is it Super Bowl Sunday?

Another aspect is understanding what a customer likes to purchase and what their basket typically looks like. If they always buy three products together and one is missing, ask if they want the third product as well. You can also incentivize the customer to try something new and suggest related products. You need to understand what the customer is looking for, and use that to enhance their experience. All of this will help you interact with the customer in the moment of impulse.

eMarketer: What might stop a consumer from buying food and other convenience items online?

Folkman: One of the problems is that we have so many options. If a customer has a bad experience with one option, they might write off the industry as a whole, especially because ecommerce for groceries is newer.

In the next few years, the space will start to clear out and the true players will emerge who have the best customer experience, are the most efficient and are delivering on the promises they make. Once that happens, it’ll be a lot easier for consumers to adapt to this mentality. Once they know they’ll have a good experience, they’ll not only be willing to try it again, they’ll also be willing to tell other people about it. 

Photo credit: Flickr