Bristol is set to be the new home of the UK’s first grocery-on-demand service, buymie. Founded in Ireland, buymie has selected Bristol to be its UK headquarters, thanks to the thriving tech and digital scene here in the city. 

buymie delivers from well known supermarkets, Co-op, Tesco and ASDA, using a personal shopper service with unlimited basket size – and you can forget next day delivery; buymie can have your grocery’s at your doorstep in as little as one hour. 

Working within the open-source community, buymie has developed their unique algorithm, Jarvis, to automate and expedite customer and shopper user experience selecting from thousands of brands with the ability to change up to six items once the order has been placed.

In tackling buymie’s digital transformation, Kevin Hughes (pictured right) and the team initially focused on the shopper app to redesign from scratch to improve functionality and speed, before rehawking the backend coding and front-end design of the shopper app.

And it’s safe to say their work has impressed investors, as founder Devan Hughes (no relation) is now leading a multi-million investment round to drive growth and technological development.

It’s a huge success to secure this amount of funding; if your startup is looking to replicate this, make sure to check out tips from businesses with a track record of investment success, and find out how the Investment Activator Programme can help on your journey.

We sat down with Kevin, Chief Product Officer (CPO) at buymie, to find out more about this unique service and why the team has chosen the South West as their base. 

buymie, a delivery service with a difference

To give us a flavour of what sets buymie apart from going straight to the supermarket, Kevin tells us the key difference is down to two things: “Firstly, our customers can get grocery deliveries from their known supermarket (currently three at present but with more coming online later this year) on the day if not the hour.

Secondly, our customers have their own personal shopper who is in contact with them throughout the process via our app. This means that you can change up to six items after you have placed your order, your personal shopper will contact you directly if a certain item isn’t available to get your decision on whether to substitute or not, and you also know when they are on their way with your delivery.

“We are also looking to be the greenest grocery-on-demand service with ambitious plans for carbon saving and waste minimisation.”

If you live or work in Bristol, you can start using buymie today – and your first delivery will be free!

The tech behind buymie

Alongside the in house tech team and Artavazd Sokhikyan, co-founder and Chief Technical Officer, Kevin has been able to transform the application into a fast-deployment scalable offering harnessing open-source intelligence.

He tells us open source tech has been the backbone of many sophisticated foundations for buymie. Discovering Google’s open-source OR tools was a breakthrough for the team, as Kevin explains: “[Google OR] has a strong community supporting the development around the ‘salesman’ problem which, in a nutshell, means how can a logistic decision be made in the most efficient and cost-effective way when there are multiple orders involved for 1 person.”

Kevin continues, “Initially, we spent a lot of time sourcing a third party provider for this technology as we thought there would be available tech already on the market to solve these types of logistical issues. After three months of research, we found different companies providing solutions to certain parts of our problems but not the whole solution, we made the decision to build this tech ourselves to scale the product.”

Innovating using Google OR-tools, the Jarvis algorithm was developed to manage the complexity of the full grocery order cycle and business model of multiple brands and supermarket suppliers as well as volume transactions.

In addition, buymie’s developers have also automated the use of motion sensors on mobile phones to help shoppers improve their delivery service in terms of traffic management and product shelf location.

Kevin says, “We implemented all the changing variables like weather, traffic, location of the shopper into account and spent 1-year building and iterating on Jarvis. Without Google OR tools, we would have found it much harder to build this type of technology internally. 

We understood in the early days that we needed an IP that would stand the test of time and that would be able to scale our volume across multiple cities and countries. As a tech company, we set out to develop our own algorithm.”

With its ambition to be “the greenest grocery-on-demand delivery service”,  buymie have set out a clear path they intend to follow. Kevin breaks it down for us:

  1. On the front line, we are looking at ways to reduce waste for us and our customers including not allowing single use plastic and not using plastic bags
  2. We have acquired an electric cargo trike to service the clean air zone in the centre of Bristol.
  3. We are also in the process of procuring electric vehicles for our shoppers to use.
  4. In addition, we are looking at attaining B-Corp status which is the globally recognised environmental accreditation as we hold ourselves to the highest standards

Embracing Bristol

Kevin tells us why Bristol was the obvious place for buymie to set up their UK hub from: “There are so many reasons! From my perspective, the naturally occurring tech hub was majorly appealing as Bristol’s approach to tech mirrors ours – inclusive, with a strong community and giving back attitude.

“In addition, Bristol was the right size of city, right location and had the right partnerships, backed up by our market research into consumer attitude. This meant it was an easy decision. We’ve felt very much at home here as there are a number of similarities to our founding base in Dublin.”

Following a successful launch in Bristol, buymie is continuing expansion across the city ahead of a UK rollout – watch this space!