Obi: Hardware store is planning fast delivery

Düsseldorf From pizza to water boxes to packets of crisps: many people in big cities get their purchases home in a very short time. Obi now also wants to take advantage of this trend towards so-called fast trading. With the start-up Bringoo, the Hamburg hardware chain wants to deliver 12,500 orders to your home within 45 minutes.

Deliveries will begin in Cologne this week, with Berlin expected to be added as an additional delivery area at the end of July. This service was invented by the Obi subsidiary “Obi Squared”, a special unit of the family business. This should make the obsolete hardware store business into the future. “It’s our job to keep the company innovating,” says Dennis Hornung, who heads the think tank founded last year.

The Squared team is constantly exploring new ideas, connecting with startups, and analyzing problems with what hardware stores have to offer. “We have to test a lot of ideas very quickly, applying clear criteria,” explains Hornung. “In this way, we also want to reduce the financial risk of innovation.”

“We are the first hardware store to offer Quick Commerce,” says Phil Jenke. Jenke, who is responsible for strategic relationships with Squared startups, contacted Bringoo founder Hasib Khan and convinced him to work with him.

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Other hardware stores in Germany also deliver, but not earlier than the next day. And with much higher fees. For example, at a Rewe Toom subsidiary, delivery costs at least € 34.99. Bringoo costs between 2.50 and 4.90 euros for an Obi. You can order elements with an edge length of up to two meters. “You can also deliver your Weber grill there in the future,” says Jenke.

The American start-up Instacart is a role model for delivery services

It’s important to be able to implement new ideas quickly, Jenke describes how Squared works. His team met Bringoo for the first time in October.

Bringoo also invested in a joint project with Obi. Until now, the company has only supplied cargo bikes and electric cars of the Fiat 500 model. To deliver to a DIY store, the start-up purchased additional electric vans, which also bear the Obi logo.

It was possible, inter alia, thanks to a financing round in the average seven-digit range at the beginning of the year. Khan also contributed money to his company – from selling a successful startup in Dubai.

Bringoo introduced the successful business model of the American company Instacart to Germany. Unlike most courier companies, the start-up does not have its own warehouse, but works with stationary retailers such as Rewe, Edeka or Hugendubel and delivers from their branches.

Delivery from a branch has cost benefits

Orders are posted through the Bringoo app. Obi’s workers assemble the goods and Bringoo picks them up at the market.

E-commerce expert Matthias Schu from Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts calls it “an interesting approach that certainly has a charming potential for success.” It is based on the assumption that due to a lack of inventory, Bringoo has a better chance of making a profit than its competitors.

>> Read here: In this way, medium-sized companies become midwives for start-ups

For Obi, however, it initially doesn’t focus on whether the business model is directly profitable. “We want to stand out from the competition,” says the head of Squared Hornung. Therefore, the partnership with Bringoo is initially exclusive for one year, i.e. not open to other hardware stores companies. If successful, the contract may be extended.

Obi is not the first family business to want to bring start-up ideas to a company with an in-house innovation factory – and bring external experience to that end. For example, logistics Fiege founded a subsidiary Xpress Ventures and hired serial founder Matthias Friese as manager. There she will act as a midwife for start-ups that will solve future logistics problems.

Obi gives the innovation factory a lot of freedom

One of the role models for the builder’s idea is the district heating engineer Viessmann. Years ago, it was the first medium-sized company to systematically set up start-ups in its own company. WattX is the name of a development unit.

At Obi, they want to implement both ideas at the same time: set up start-ups on their own and cooperate with existing companies. “Once we have identified the problem, we can see if we can solve it ourselves or if there is already a start-up we can work with,” says Jenke.

The theme of innovation shaped Hornung’s career. He started his career at Rewe Digital, gained experience in e-commerce at Esprit and developed new digital marketing ideas for dm and L’Oreal at the Oddity agency.

But in the family business, Obi has once again found a unique corporate culture. “Obi has short path structures that allow us to make decisions quickly,” says Hornung. “This agility suits us at Obi Squared.”

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