The app from Cologne shortens the path to local trade

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Baoo start-up: the app shortens the path to local commerce

The Cologne-based company’s smartphone app shows users which stores nearby have the product they are looking for on the shelves. This strengthens stationary trading. Now, the start-up is also sending a delivery service – and it wants to be faster than Amazon.

The next shelf with the desired shower gel is exactly 285 meters away, the next iPhone is almost 500 meters away, and the cordless screwdriver is a good three kilometers: the Baoo start-up app shows users which stores are nearby, finds the product they are looking for. If you want, you can start navigating directly to the drugstore, electronics store or hardware store on your smartphone. “City centers have the great advantage that all products are available locally – you just need to know where to find them,” says co-founder Hendrik Lallensack. He and his co-founders Micro Meyer and Michael Müller did not start their start-up until the summer of 2020. They met in college, have family ties in the retail industry and know the challenges they face. More and more customers are switching to digital ordering channels. Also because they don’t know where and if the product is available at the moment.

To find a digital solution, the young team looked from the customer’s perspective: “The application is categorized and you can search for the products you need,” explains Lallensack. Idea: In the app, users simply type what exactly they need. The program then shows which shelves the item is currently on. Retail chains such as dm, Toom and Cyberport as well as Vodafone have already connected their goods management systems with the platform of the young company from Cologne. Especially in large cities, we are often only a few minutes’ walk from the desire to buy.

At the beginning, the Baoo team was especially looking for cooperation with large retail chains. A big advantage: This means that the most important products nearby can be found quickly in many large cities. The companies represented throughout Germany are SuperBiomarkt, Butlers and Thalia. Smaller retailers will gradually be connected to the platform – for example, in Cologne, stores such as Foto Gregor and the Ortloff office supply store are involved. “These trading partners make up the diversity we offer,” says Meyer.

The starting signal for deliveries from branches

Now the start-up has started the next stage of expansion. From this week on, at the home location in Cologne, users can either follow navigation to the nearest suitable store on their own – or they can have their products delivered home just a few hours after placing an order on the same day. They even want to outdo the e-commerce giant Amazon, as fully promised by the young team. “Delivery at the chosen time in the evening should be faster than ordering from online shipping companies,” says Meyer.

Some retailers already offer this service – known in technical jargon as “Shipping from the store” – on their own. However, many companies find it difficult to manage the logistics concept. Baoo now wants to completely relieve them of this task. And this is how they generate sales themselves: the start-up earns both the delivery fee that customers pay and the commission that dealers pay for orders.

Baoo combines purchases from various retailers into one shopping cart. “We make the entire city available – from drugs to action cameras,” says Lallensack co-founder. To make the service possible, the start-up cooperates with local courier companies. The cargo bikes of the Berlin-based start-up Ono Motion are headed to Cologne. In the afternoon, its drivers tour the branches in the city center, pick up orders and then deliver them to the customer’s door. Over the past four weeks, Baoo has completed more than 150 such tours during testing. The feature is now available to all users. Same-day delivery will be gradually offered in other major cities.

A lot of work on the way to the central procurement platform

The young team still has a long way to go to become a central purchasing platform with a connection to the brick-and-mortar retailer. It’s about being known. More than 10,000 users are currently using availability checking. The more naturally city dwellers turn to Baoo in search of a product, the more attractive a start-up is as a business partner. Competition is threatened not only by e-commerce providers such as Zalando or Amazon, who strive for more convenient and faster delivery. Express delivery services that cater to niches such as drugs and baked goods today also cater to similar customer requests. But Baoo is confident in accepting the competition: “We want to show that our platform can do whatever the various express delivery services offer,” says Lallensack.

Currently, almost ten employees support the founding team. In order to be able to develop, another round of start-up financing is to take place this year. Last year, an investment company from Düsseldorf, SchneiderGolling & Cie, invested in the young team. There was also support from the Xdeck accelerator from Cologne, which was initiated by the founders of the school backpack and clothing company Fond of

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