The so-called "go economy" war creeping into UK retail and the plethora of delivery apps are nothing new for consumers, especially if they live in London.
A relatively new player in the retail scene is Quiqup, an app or web-based delivery service that aims to connect London’s local businesses with its customers
However, Quiqup isn’t your average one-hour delivery service - and it never tries to be, either.
For this week's 5 Minutes With segment, the Retail Gazette caught up with Quiqup co-founder and chief executive Bassel El Koussa to find out what makes it so special.
Tell us a bit about yourself and your background before Quiqup.
Growing up, I had a lot of different jobs: everything from working in a car garage fixing engines to working at a DVD store. My first full-time corporate job was working in my family’s business, an industrial bakery and pastry business. It taught me a lot of what I know today.
After deciding to move to London, I spent time working at a venture capital firm, where I met three of my four fellow Quiqup co-founders, and we founded the company in 2014.
What got you into the retail sector in the first place?
We started this business thinking about the evolving consumer of today. We saw an opportunity to provide consumers with a service that would enable them to have control of exactly when they receive the goods they purchase.
We achieved this by creating a last mile fulfilment system that would enable customers to buy goods from their favourite high street retailers and get these goods delivered within the hour.
Quickly after launching, we understood that working directly with retailers would enhance the experience for customers and also provide retailers with a new sales channel. Consumers can buy things via our app or through our partners’ own e-commerce platforms.
Describe your responsibilities as Quiqup’s CEO.
My responsibility is first and foremost taking care of my team. Quiqup is its people and it is extremely important for me to make sure that everyone is motivated and is buying into what we are building.
Secondly, I am responsible for making sure the company’s vision is being achieved through our quarterly strategy implementation, aligning departments on common objectives and making sure there are no roadblocks for these objectives to be met.
Finally, my role requires me to be the face of the company with investors and ensure that we have sufficient capital to achieve our vision.
How has your previous experience aided your current job?
I think the diversity in the jobs I have done previously has given me the experience required to build a company. I think that being an entrepreneur requires one to be adaptable and open to new ideas.
There is no clear winning formula that I’ve seen on my journey so far. All the life experiences that I have been through have had a role to play. The interactions I have had with people from all walks of life has definitely been one of the most useful tools in understanding people’s motivations and managing a big team.
In addition to that, the technical skills I have acquired during my time working in finance has given me solid grounding on the commercial side of the business.
Can you explain the concept behind Quiqup?
Quiqup offers easy-to-use and flexible delivery services to consumers and businesses. This could mean enabling a retailer to provide on-demand delivery from their website, or giving consumers that ability to get the keys they forgot at the office picked up.
We see ourselves as enablers for offline retailers. We are providing the tools for retailers on the high street to get online and offer delivery straight from their stores.
For consumers, though, we offer a one-stop shop for anything they need within the city (within reason).
What is the most challenging aspect of your job?
We’ve found the biggest challenges so far to be operational – we deliver anything, to and from anywhere across urban areas, which can get complicated in a city like London.
One of our biggest focus areas has been dealing with the different variables related to deliveries, ranging from the seasonality of orders, to the type of vehicle being used, all the way down to traffic and weather conditions on the day.
What is the most rewarding?
Being part of a business that is revolutionising retail as we know it. Every day brings new challenges and new opportunities to shape the market, and I’m excited to be a part of it.
Can you talk about any upcoming projects at Quiqup that you’re working on at the moment?
We are planning our expansion into other cities within the UK. We’re looking to bring our services to more people and retailers across the country.
What advice would you give someone who is considering embarking on a career in retail?
Be creative and keep an open mind. This is a sector that is undergoing serious transformation over the next few years and innovation is the name of the game.
What would you say is the biggest risk for the retail sector, given the current climate?
Macroeconomic shifts will inevitably affect consumer confidence and spending, but in the long-run, it is the retail sector's reliance on non-UK workers that may have a more significant impact.
With regards to the digital economy (which is more relevant to startups such as Quiqup), the growing tech skills gap in the UK, which is further worsened by Brexit, may impact us. That’s why hiring the best people, and keeping them happy and motivated, is such a big focus for me as CEO.