A Chat with Devan Hughes, CEO & Co-Founder at On Demand Grocery Delivery Service: buymie

buymie is an on demand grocery delivery service where customers can get their full weekly grocery shop, delivered by a personal shopper, from their local retailer they know and trust, in as little as 1 hour. Buymie works with existing enterprise grocery retailers, handling the entire fulfilment process end to end from order placement, right through to in-store picking and delivery.

Buymie works with the likes of Asda and The Coop in the UK and Lidl and Dunnes Strores in Ireland. The buymie platform hosts multiple retail partners many of whom operate a blended store estate, including smaller local format stores that are often under-utilised in the eCommerce offering and delivery space. It is this sharing and utilisation of existing infrastructure plus the reduced environmental impact that makes the platform very attractive to partners.

How did you come up with the idea for the company?

My background is not in grocery. I actually come from the energy sector where shared networks and infrastructure is the standard. When I came into the retail market, I assumed that most retailers would be set up more or less the same. I was totally wrong and quickly I realised that the operating models of retailers was very different, and than each company had built their own individual fleets, which were struggling to reach efficient operating levels.

In 2016, we were ahead of the times as the online grocery market wasn’t as big as it is today, so some retailers were sceptical about us at first. Traditional retailers didn’t have sizable online grocery delivery offerings at the time and saw us as somewhat of a potential disruptor to a very traditional industry. We had retailers trying to stop us. Legal letters, cease and desists, complaints to the advertising authority. Our model was totally new and rejected.

The company started with me as the very first personal shopper. I have completed over 1,800 grocery deliveries on behalf of buymie and have the receipts to prove it. In the beginning, because retailers wouldn’t work with us, I actually went into the store and purchased one of every item from the shelves, stored these items in my home and photographed each one to upload to the buymie app. This was how we built our first product database.

However, in 2018 we signed our flagship partnership with Lidl and this set us on a journey where today, rather than being rejected, we have 4 of the top 10 grocers working with us and growing their business on our platform. The pandemic accelerated the growth of the online grocery sector and this is where buymie came into its own, establishing new retail partnerships, growing our personal shopper network and expanding into new cities and markets.

What makes us unique?

With buymie, we pride ourselves on knowledge sharing with retailers. Our intentions are not to compete with traditional retailers like those in the rapid delivery sector with dark stores and unsustainable growth, but to build relationships and a high degree of trust with these companies, being able to stand over our commitments and, ultimately, improve the grocery delivery offering for the consumer.

For us, building relationships has been a key part of how we’ve achieved success and growth. Nothing happens quickly, and we’ve been building relationships with retail since we launched in 2016.

We are, both technology and operationally, fully transparent in how our platform works, as well as feeding really valuable data insights back to our retail partners to show them how their business is performing in this channel. So I think building partnership with grocery retail is all about building trust with the stakeholders of those businesses so that when they do a deal, they know that you’re going to be able to stand over that.

How has the company evolved over the last couple of years?

We now have 70 employees based in Dublin, London and Armenian offices and a growing network of over 300 active personal shoppers. Buymie has also raised €18.2 million to-date.

Buymie is now available in 4 Irish cities (Dublin, Cork, Galway and Limerick) and 2 UK cities (Bristol and Leeds). Fun fact – buymie has been used by 1 in 8 households in Dublin.

In 2021, buymie was a Deloitte Fast 50 winner as it was recognised as the 5th fastest growing tech company in Ireland. Buymie has also been nominated for eCommerce Software Tool Or App Of The Year at the Irish eCommerce Awards 2022.

The brand’s growth and success has helped me to some success of my own. In 2019, I was named Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur in the Leinster Region by Local Enterprises Ireland. I’ve also been shortlisted for Business and Finance Entrepreneur of the Year 2021, Ernst & Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year 2020 and I was second in Ireland’s Overall Young Entrepreneur of the Year in 2019.

I’ve previously been named in the Business and Finance CEO 100 index and was listed in the Sunday Independent – Ireland’s most read newspaper – Top 30 business stars under 30 in 2017.

What can we hope to see from buymie in the future?

We hope to expand our services to a greater number of cites. We’ve identified 200 cities and towns in Ireland and the UK where our service would be viable. We’ve seen Leeds, Limerick and Galway perform incredibly well since launching in the last year and it’s given us huge confidence that the addressable market for our business and our platform is far larger than we had originally anticipated.

Buymie is always open to the possibility of new retail partnerships. We have fantastic working relationships with our current official partners and, with our new and constantly evolving tech, we believe we can help revolutionise big-basket grocery delivery for all major retailers.

Despite the easing of restrictions, the online grocery industry continues to maintain steady levels of growth post-pandemic. Sales are remaining at a high level and online grocery accounts for 12.7% of the market in the UK and just under 5% in Ireland. We seek to continue to grow and expand our services and tech inline with the growing demand for convenient, same-day grocery delivery.


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