Nobody Wants To Pay For Ultra Fast Food Delivery

Ultra-fast delivery startups are either folding up or leaving markets, exiting the scene just as quickly as they arrived.

Another sign of potential turmoil for these unprofitable companies? Those that stick around continue to rely on giving users freebies. So far, they haven’t been able to convince customers to pay the full cost of delivery in 15 minutes or less. And while more established delivery players like Uber have been able to rely less on discounts in a pivot toward profitability, the ultra-fast delivery startups are trying to grow amid a volatile market in which both investors and customers are growing more wary of opening their wallets.

Nearly 30% of delivery orders from GoPuff, which is the biggest ultra-fast delivery player in the US, were discounted as of April, according to data from YipitData, a research firm. The share of orders discounted is greater outside of the US. For instance, Getir, a Turkish ultra-fast delivery startup, has over 80% of its orders discounted in countries like Germany and France, according to YipitData.

Tech stocks have plummeted over the past three months, and that has pushed investors to prioritize profits. In response, companies are changing how they do business. For instance, Uber rides and restaurant deliveries have become more expensive. (Unlike the newer ultrafast deliver startups, established delivery players like Uber have been able to pull back on discounts to show investors a clearer path toward profitability.)

Attracting customers with cheap Uber rides and food delivery

Discounting is a way for delivery companies, which depend on scale, to quickly attract and retain customers. Over time, as more of the orders come from customers who have been with the firms for some time, the discounting percentage should go down, said Daniel McCarthy, an assistant professor of marketing at Emory University. For rapid-delivery companies, the fact that discounting share remains high implies a less clear path to profitability.

“There is way too much money that went into this sector,” said Mathias Schilling, a founding partner at Headlines, a venture capital firm that invests in GoPuff. “Six months ago, this is the best thing and incredible… and now everything is negative. This extreme exuberance by the people is like ridiculous.”

The rapid growth of ultra-fast delivery companies

In the past couple of years, as the demand for delivery skyrocketed, ultrafast delivery services with abstract-sounding names—Buyk, Getir, Jokr—came onto the scene. Venture capitalists invested $28 billion into rapid delivery globally, more than double the amount in 2019, according to data from PitchBook, a research firm.

Like Uber’s playbook, these companies, flush with venture capital funding, burned cash fast to move into new markets and attract and retain customers with cheap services. The biggest services like GoPuff, Gorillas, and Getir relied on high order volumes and a shift in consumer shopping habits to achieve profitability, said Alex Frederick, a PitchBook analyst. But the model works best when markets are stable and VC funding is plentiful, he added.

It’s hard to make money in food delivery, as the money is split among retailer or restaurant, food delivery company, and worker. It’s even harder for faster delivery, as it requires hiring workers as employees and often comes with no minimum order. That allows a customer to order a pint of ice cream to be delivered in 15 minutes, a costly loss for ultra-fast delivery companies.

The question now is whether these companies will be able to sustain such losses, at a moment when funding is harder to come by, or will they follow in the footsteps of past rapid delivery companies that sprung up in the dot-com boom before going out of business.

Global downloads of the top 10 ultra fast delivery apps have grown 127%, year-over-year in Q1. With a more granular, monthly breakdown we can see a lot of this growth taking place in Q4 of 2021. As you can see in the chart below, this is a faster growth rate than that of the top 10 meal delivery apps (ex: Uber Eats) or top 10 grocery delivery apps (ex: Instacart). Meal delivery still takes the cake when it comes to absolute numbers.

It is reported to be acquiring French startup, Cajoo, which launched in early 2021 and struggled to gain ground in the country ever since Getir formally launched there in June 2021. This will help Flink compete with Getir in France. Flink says its reach in the country will now be greater than Getir’s but Apptopia estimates have Getir’s app usage comfortably ahead of Flink and Cajoo combined.

Ultra fast delivery companies do not just have each other to worry about. Traditional, or meal, delivery apps have massive brand power, user bases and deep pockets. Apps like Uber Eats are starting to enter the market of fast grocery delivery. Apptopia reported in January that meal delivery apps extending into grocery delivery, a faster growing segment of the delivery market.

Traditional grocery delivery apps are not standing still either. Instacart started offering 30 minute meal deliveries (sushi, salads, sandwiches) from supermarkets like Kroger and Publix. It will also begin offering 15 minute grocery delivery in the near-future.

When will supply chains go back to normal?

Supply chains should slowly recover in 2022, assuming overstuffed ports and warehouses finally get a chance to clear out the glut of containers piling up in shipyards and surrounding neighborhoods. But that will only happen if there aren’t any major new disruptions, like another mega-ship blocking the Suez Canal, future covid variants that shutter factories and ports, or other disasters that gum up the mechanisms of global trade.

Source: Nobody wants to pay for food delivery — Quartz

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Emerging Markets and The Future Of Blockchain

In the first ten years of the expansion of blockchain technology, it was utterly dominated by developed (or more precisely western) nations. But emerging markets like Africa are adopting crypto faster than their global counterparts. This growth is even more impressive when one considers that there has been very little institutional support for blockchain technology in these nations.

The growth in blockchain adoption has been concentrated in. Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, and Tanzania, which are some of the most densely populated nations on the continent, which have been banned from crypto trading. In the first ten years of the expansion of blockchain technology, it was utterly dominated by developed (or more precisely western) nations. Almost all the Bitcoin Miners were located in America and Europe, and only rising mining costs moved those operations abroad.

Asides from that, many of the earliest Bitcoin/blockchain innovators were either westerners or living in western countries. For example, Vitalik Buterin, while being Russian-born himself, had been in Canada for the better part of two decades before creating Ethereum. However, as blockchain technology is moving into the next phase of its development, it appears that emerging markets like Africa are adopting crypto faster than their global counterparts. While no one knows the reason for this, it’s very difficult to deny that it’s happening. The numbers are simply undeniable.

For example, cryptocurrency adoption grew in Africa by 1200% between the 12 months between July 2020 and June 2021. Regardless of whether this was brought on by the financial uncertainty of the pandemic or other clusters of reasons, the effect of this growth can hardly be ignored. This growth in blockchain adoption has been concentrated in countries Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, and Tanzania, which are some of the most densely populated nations on the continent. Peer-to-peer trading, which is a huge part of blockchain technology, is so big in Kenya that the country led the world in P2P transactions in 2022.

All this points to an exciting future for blockchain technology in these markets. This growth is even more impressive when one considers that there has been very little institutional support for blockchain technology in these nations. Many of the regulators in these countries have banned crypto trading, which has slowed down adoption. Despite that, the rate of adoption is still incredible. All this points to one thing; blockchain technology adoption might already have plateaued in the West, but this is just the beginning in emerging markets like Africa.

The Opportunities are Limitless

The blockchain ecosystem of emerging markets might not be as huge as that of developed nations, but it’s rather apparent that blockchain technology solves more structural problems in these markets than elsewhere. For example, in nations where inflation is rampant — like Zimbabwe — citizens can safeguard their wealth with stablecoins. Interestingly, I addressed the structural problems of P2E economies here and recommended the need for a dedicated stablecoin to fix these structural problems.

Blockchain technology also gives a level of autonomy to citizens in nations with oppressive and dictatorial governments. In countries where governments can unilaterally freeze bank accounts of dissidents, digital stores of value like cryptocurrency can be a real vehicle of social change.This is indeed already happening. In 2020, there was at least one case of a popular protest funded in part by Bitcoin. Bitcoin was rather useful for the protest because of the anonymity and decentralization built into the coin’s infrastructure on the blockchain.

Asides from the monetary use of blockchain, it also has administrative uses as well. By applying blockchain technology to supply chain management, countries can greatly improve asset recording, tracking, assigning, linking and sharing; developing nations can build resilient supply chains without using an overinflated bureaucracy. This can be especially useful for developing nations that are battling supply chain issues. Blockchain can be useful in the entertainment industry as well. It can be used to prevent privacy in the industry, protect digital content, and facilitate the distribution of digital collectibles.

There are opportunities in gaming too. While Play-to-Earn games with NFT characters have gotten a bad rep because of how expensive it is to purchase a character, companies like Rainmaker Games are solving this problem. Rainmaker Games, for example,  is one of the most exciting companies revolutionizing games for the future. Within just a few months, Rainmaker Games has found a way to vet the identity of players who are joining guilds, figure out a way players can play hundreds of P2E games for free, and also incorporate an NFT marketplace on all of that.

With startups like Rainmaker Games lowering the barrier of entry for P2E gamers from emerging markets, it’s only a matter of time before these players stand toe to toe with the rest of the world. Asides from the structural shakeup a startup like Rainmaker Games can cause with its technology; there’s also the matter of the financial freedom these P2E games can give to players from emerging markets.

The NFT Goldmine

Despite the opportunities on the blockchain, it’s obvious that the same enthusiasm for crypto in emerging markets has been missing. One reason that has been brought up is the unfriendly technical nature of NFTs. And that could be a good point. After all, the more technical using a technology is, the fewer people use it.

Perhaps that’s why players in Web3 are already working on the important infrastructure that will help builders scale technical barriers to entry and build products faster and cheaper in the ecosystem. Ankr is one of those stakeholders, and the company provides fast, reliable infrastructure at community first pricing. It isn’t just infrastructure either — the company does everything from helping enterprises integrate with Web3 to allowing DeFi users to stake their coins and earn higher yields.

Right now, NFTs have taken on a lot of different forms, but there’s one that remains elusive; representation from emerging markets.While developing nations seem quite capable of holding their own and accelerating their development when it comes to crypto, the markedly lukewarm attitude toward NFTs has continued unabated. We know that the reason isn’t because of lack of utility. NFTs have proven that they can solve the problem of monetization for content creators and solve the problem of piracy for artists.

This means that NFTs have a huge future in these emerging markets — even if adoption isn’t on the up and up as it is with crypto. The problem, it seems, is with the complexities of releasing a token and a much higher tech barrier to entry. Cryptocurrency has largely avoided these problems due to a friendlier technical environment. For example, there are centralized exchanges for crypto where people with limited technical knowledge can just open an account and buy their cryptocurrency.

While there is also something like that for NFTs — Opensea is a great example — it isn’t targeted at or built for content creators in emerging markets.Thankfully, some NFT companies are also already solving the problem of higher technical barriers to entry. Ayoken Labs, for example, is building an NFT platform where artists and content creators from these emerging markets can release their social tokens, and essentially monetize their content efficiently.

This platform not only monetizes content for creators but also rewards fans and users in general with its native token for use. In a way, it’s like a play-to-earn game but without the gaming aspect.It’s clear that there are limitless opportunities in the blockchain space in emerging markets. It’s almost inevitable that more startups will come into the space and create solutions that are tailor-made for these markets. It is now a matter of when — not if. Today, the developed world is the capital of blockchain innovation. But it might not be for long.

By Victor Fabusola

Consumers are Shifting Their Spending From Goods To Services

The Covid-19 pandemic has strained global supply chains, causing freight backlogs that have driven up costs. Now some companies are looking for longer-term solutions to prepare for future supply-chain crises, even if those strategies come at a high cost. Americans responded to the pandemic with a dramatic shift in spending to goods from services. That now appears to be reversing and should gather steam as the Omicron wave of Covid-19 ebbs, economists say.

Consumers shopped more online in the pandemic, and changed what they bought. Unable to eat out or travel, and with both school and work going remote, they splurged more on things for the home such as furniture and computers. Several rounds of federal stimulus amplified that spending spree.

Goods—including nondurable goods such as food and clothing, and durable goods such as cars and appliances—averaged 31% of total personal consumption in the two years before the pandemic. That soared to 36% in March and April 2021, shortly before Covid-19 vaccines became widely available. The share has been dropping since, to 34% in December. Consumer spending on goods fell that month for the second month in a row, according to the Commerce Department, while spending on services increased slightly.

James Knightley, chief international economist at ING, said consumers are starting this year with “a combination of general fatigue of buying physical things and Omicron reducing the ability to spend on services.”

After bingeing on goods earlier in the pandemic, consumers are taking a breather. What’s more, spending on goods has been hit by supply-chain constraints, rising prices and dwindling government stimulus funds. As warmer springtime weather comes to much of the country and falling infection rates help people feel more comfortable socializing in-person, pent-up demand for services such as travel and dining should recover, said Robert Frick, corporate economist with Navy Federal Credit Union.

“If the Omicron wave continues to decline and there’s no follow-up strain, I do think we’re going to see a shift to a more normal breakdown in spending on goods and services,” he said.

That could be important for the inflation outlook. Strong demand for goods coupled with disruptions to their supply have fueled inflation, sending it to a 39-year high of 7% in December. Prices for goods such as furniture and appliances rose 10.7% in December from a year earlier, while services inflation for costs such as rent and airline fares was up a more moderate 3.7%. If consumer spending rotates back to services from goods, some of that upward pressure on goods prices should dissipate.

Economists caution that 2022 is off to a weak start. The Omicron wave hurt consumer spending and job growth in December, trends that likely continued through January as cases of the Covid-19 variant peaked. Real-time data show that restaurant bookings and travel remained depressed in January, suggesting the shift toward services away from goods may have paused in January.

But looking ahead, a strong labor market and rising wages mean many U.S. consumers are starting 2022 with robust income prospects that are likely to help fuel the services recovery this year. “All the indications are that it will be a big year for travel,” said Visa Inc. Chief Financial Officer Vasant Prabhu. “We see the shift to services continuing to gather momentum.”

 Travel, restaurants and entertainment services all stand to benefit, he said, adding the economic impact of Omicron is more short-lived than earlier Covid-19 waves as people learn to live with the variant.

Airlines were hit hard by the Omicron variant, with travelers scrapping holiday trips and staff absenteeism prompting flight cancellations over the holidays. Still, executives are optimistic about a speedy recovery.

“The GDP growth we’re seeing now, the excess customer savings, customer spend in other categories and even things like New York City rents snapping back pretty quickly, all seem to indicate real strength for the customer and pent-up demand that wasn’t there in the past,” David Fintzen, an executive at New York-based JetBlue Airways Corp. said during an earnings call last week.

One potential roadblock to higher spending in 2022 is inflation, as shortages of supplies and workers are pushing up prices and wages at levels that may become unaffordable to some households. Some consumers are forgoing purchases because of sticker shock. “We will not buy a used car at the prices we’re seeing now, it’s ridiculous,” said Cory Randall, controller at a cattle company in Amarillo, Texas, who had been considering a secondhand compact car purchase as his son recently turned 16.

Mr. Randall isn’t alone. The Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s most recent Survey of Consumer Expectations found the share of households that made a large purchase over the past four months decreased to 58% in December from 63% in August. Households reported that they were less likely to make a large purchase over the next four months—like on a vacation, home repairs, home appliances, furniture and vehicles—than in the prior survey.

Source: https://www.wsj.com

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German Industry Braces For Tougher 2022 Due To War, Lockdowns

German industry is bracing for a tougher 2022 as lockdowns in China and the war in Ukraine compound ongoing supply chain problems, leading two associations to downgrade their forecasts for the year.

The VDMA engineering association cut its machinery production growth outlook for a second time on Monday. It now expects production of industrial machinery carrying the “Made in Germany” label to grow 1% this year, having already slashed its forecast to 4% from 7% two months ago.

Last year, production grew by 6.4%. The BDI industry association said it now expects exports to grow by only 2.5% this year, after predicting a rise of 4% in January. read more

The lowered forecasts come despite many companies having strong backlogs of orders, as they are struggling to fill them: A survey by the Ifo institute said 77.2% of companies complained about bottlenecks and problems procuring intermediate products and raw materials.

One in two companies affected by material shortages said the China lockdowns made the situation even worse than before, the IFO survey published on Monday showed. VDMA President Karl Haeusgen said in a statement that before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, 80% of companies described their business prospects in Russia as good or satisfactory. Now, 75% expect it to deteriorate in the next six months or want to abandon it altogether.

“This shows the extent to which the war has changed everything,” Haeusgen said. BDI predicts production will grow by nearly 2% – less than expected before the war began – with the caveat that this forecast depends on supply chain problems easing and Russian gas continuing to flow in.

Exports may also be a concern. Last year, machinery made up a substantial part of the 26.6 billion euros ($28.5 billion) in goods that Germany exported to Russia.

Source: German industry braces for tougher 2022 due to war, lockdowns | Reuters

Critics by Carlos Caceres, Mai Chi Dao, and Aiko Mineshima
IMF European Department 

Germany’s economy contracted by just under 5 percent in 2020, outperforming most European peers. New waves of infections and associated lockdowns during late-2020 to early 2021 hampered the rebound from the first wave. But forward-looking indicators suggest further growth in exports and a brightening outlook for the services sector, in line with re-opening plans and anticipated pent-up demand.

For the year as a whole, growth of about 3.6 percent is expected. The recovery pae

th, however, is beset with risks, particularly regarding the progress of the pandemic and supply shortages in key industries. Retaining supportive fiscal policy until there is clear evidence of a sustained recovery while also using the fiscal space to lift potential growth over the medium term will be crucial. 

The government has extended various COVID-19 measures from 2020, such as grants to firms and an expansion of the short-time work subsidy, while also introducing several new measures to support households and businesses. Maintaining adequate support while the economy is still weak is important to minimize scarring effects. As the recovery firms up, more targeted policies and a focus on facilitating resource re-allocation becomes important.

Over the medium term, it is important that Germany’s fiscal space is used to boost growth potential by investing in physical and human capital, accelerating digitalization, incentivizing innovation, bolstering labor supply, and increasing disposable income for low-income households. Making progress towards these goals would also help with external rebalancing.

A green transition is key to Germany’s recovery program, yet there are opportunities to improve the cost-effectiveness of its climate mitigation measures. Following a constitutional court ruling in May, Germany tightened its greenhouse gas emissions targets aiming for a 65 percent reduction by 2030 and net zero emissions by 2045. Germany could bolster its mitigation program with a better-specified schedule of carbon prices over a longer time horizon, complemented with sector-specific feebates (revenue-neutral tax/subsidy schemes).

Continued government support for green infrastructure and technologies is also essential for the transition and to spur the economic recovery. To mitigate the potential adverse impact of higher carbon prices on households, further relief targeted at lower-income earners can be considered.

Germany’s expanded short-time work subsidy or Kurzarbeit remains important until the recovery takes hold, while groups not covered by Kurzarbeit need to protected by different means. The unprecedented take-up of Kurzarbeit helped keep unemployment in check and supported aggregate demand. However, as the recovery takes hold, normalizing Kurzarbeit parameters becomes essential so as not to inhibit labor reallocation toward growing firms and industries. Job search assistance and appropriate training programs can facilitate workers’ transition into post-pandemic jobs.

For groups not covered by Kurzarbeit, maintaining expanded access to the current basic income program would be beneficial until the job market recovers sustainably. To arrest widening inequality, the government could consider reducing social security contributions on lower incomes, which would also spur hiring and labor supply.

Safeguarding financial stability during the nascent recovery is essential. So far bankruptcies and financial losses have been limited, while bank capital has actually increased since the onset of the pandemic. But bankruptcies may rise as support measures are phased out, warranting continued targeted liquidity and solvency support for viable firms.

Meanwhile, specifying an appropriately gradual timetable for banks to rebuild capital buffers is important to mitigate the risk of curtailed lending when it is most needed. Banks also need to improve their cost structures to address chronic low profitability. Progress has been made in narrowing data gaps that have hampered the full assessment of macro-financial risks. But the buildup of financial vulnerabilities in real estate markets calls for close monitoring and for expanding the macroprudential toolkit to include income-based instruments.

Further reading:

UK inflation expectations stick at high levels – Citi/YouGov, article with imageWorld
WorldNATO’s support for Ukraine is unbreakable, Spain’s PM Sanchez says,
European MarketsRussian rouble rallies past 62 vs dollar, reversing last week’s heavy losses
European MarketsWorld stocks turn positive in May on Fed bets
European MarketsDollar resumes slide as stock markets tentatively pick up
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One-Third of Businesses Plan To Raise Prices In The Coming Quarter

Over a third of all businesses (38%) anticipate raising the price of their goods or services by more than usual in the next three months, a similar result to March 2022, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

ABS Head of Industry Statistics, John Shepherd, said: “Most of these businesses were finding that increases in the cost of products and services (92 per cent) and fuel and energy costs (78 per cent) were leading factors for planned price increases.”

The other side

The survey results also showed nearly half (48 per cent) of all businesses have no plans to increase their prices over the next three months. “Of these businesses, nearly half (46 per cent) said it was to retain customers and 46 per cent said they had fixed-price contracts in place.” Mr Shepherd said.

The results also provided information about planned capital expenditure over the next three months. Almost one in five businesses (18 per cent) have planned capital expenditure in May 2022, consistent with findings in May 2021 (17 per cent). Nearly half (48 per cent) of businesses planning capital expenditure indicated it would be higher than what is usual for this time of year, fewer than a year ago when 59 per cent planned for higher expenditure.

The biggest Influencing factors on whether businesses were planning for capital expenditure were uncertainty about the future state of the economy (25 per cent) and supply chain disruptions (23 per cent).  Current inflation in Australia, as in much of the rest of the world, is the result of a combination of short-term and long-term factors and concerns about demand and supply.

The Reserve Bank of Australia previously raised the official cash rate for the first time in over 11 years from 0.1 per cent, which it had been at since November 2020, during the height of the Covid pandemic. It was raised to 0.35 per cent, which was higher than expected, and the RBA stated that additional increases were on the way.

Furthermore, the Russian war on Ukraine increased commodity prices significantly above pre-COVID levels. They produce more than one-tenth of the world’s oil and wheat.

By: Yajush Gupta

Yajush is a journalist at Dynamic Business. He previously worked with Reuters as a business correspondent and holds a postgrad degree in print journalism.

Source: One-third of businesses plan to raise prices in the coming quarter: Survey

Critics by Patricio Ibáñez, Ricardo González Rugamas, Sajal Kohli, and Eric Kuehl 

To understand the process of determining which price increases are fair and which are not, consider an example. A leading apparel retailer recently received price increases from suppliers for many of its primary brands, each citing the inflationary environment as the reason for the increase. The company wasn’t sure how it should respond.

This retailer needs to determine whether suppliers are passing along an increase that’s in line with inflation’s effect on the supplier’s costs. Although it’s not possible to answer this question exactly, the retailer can at least pressure test the increase by determining if it falls within a fair range.

To do this, it began by identifying the main cost inputs that have the highest level of change, especially in an inflationary environment. In this example, these cost inputs were commodities (such as cotton, polyester, spandex), as well as labor and transportation (such as import costs, shipping, and freight).

Second, it estimated the percentage of the total cost these inputs make up. We would expect that fabric makes up about 50 percent of the total cost of a men’s cotton T-shirt. It’s safe to assume that cotton fiber (which has a commodity index, making its cost relatively easy to research) makes up roughly one-third of the fabric’s cost.

Immediate commercial opportunities to mitigate volatility typically include maximizing spend on existing contracts whose prices aren’t indexed for inflation and requesting clawbacks on unindexed contracts that covered periods when commodity prices fell. Digital and analytics solutions can enhance cleansheet analysis to uncover how much purchases should cost for large parts of company spending, which lets managers quantify the extent to which inflationary pressure should affect supplier prices.

To improve future resilience, supplier collaboration can drive joint efficiencies and potentially help the organization look beyond price and at changes to quality or specifications or at finding ways to use less. Finally, companies can consider ramping up collaboration between pricing and procurement teams to weigh inflation’s possible effects on the prices the company charges its own customers.

The defensive, technical levers to respond to inflation include accelerating value engineering and adjusting batch sizes or order frequency. Reducing SKUs or high-cost features and attributes by modifying specifications is a potential medium-term technical lever that can help improve resilience. Depending on the sector, options to address volatility in the short-to-medium term include optimizing supplier footprints for better control over logistics, cost, tariffs, and inventory.

Longer-term volatility challengers could include strategic inventory stockpiling, relying more on vendor-managed inventory, expanding cross-industry collaboration to share commodity exposures, and partnering through the end-to-end supply chain to derisk certain nodes.

To approach suppliers in high-priority categories, a targeted playbook can help strengthen negotiation strategies, with pressure testing via mock negotiation sessions that anticipate potential supplier counterarguments…

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