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Buyk is launching operations in Chicago with six “dark stores” to fulfill online grocery orders, which are delivered by bike-riding couriers dubbed "buykers."

Buyk brings ‘instant’ grocery delivery service to Chicago

E-grocer eyes national expansion after launching three months ago in NYC

Rapid online grocery service Buyk is expanding its delivery footprint from the Big Apple to the Windy City.

New York-based Buyk announced its official launch in Chicago last week as part of plans to enter more U.S. markets in 2022. The e-grocer said it’s starting operations in Chicago with six “dark stores” to fulfill online grocery orders. Initially, the service is slated to cover the city’s Wicker Park, Bucktown, Old Irving Park, Ravenswood, Sheffield Neighbors, and Logan Square neighborhoods.

Plans call for Buyk to open another 14 dark stores in Chicago by the end of the 2022 first quarter, which the company said will raise its dark store count to 35 for both New York and Chicago. 

Buyk mobile app screen-delivery.pngOnline grocery orders made via the Buyk app carry no delivery fee and aren't subject to a minimum purchase. (Image courtesy of Buyk)

“Chicago is where trends, especially in retail, become mainstream. This is why Buyk has chosen the Windy City as the next frontier to disrupt the way Americans get their groceries,” Buyk CEO James Walker said in a statement. “We hope that unbeatable delivery speed and quality of products become as synonymous with our brand name as deep-dish pizza is with Chicago. We want to capture this growth momentum and bring this technology not just to big bicoastal metropolises, to which so many advancements are limited in the United States. Buyk wants to take instant grocery delivery in the U.S. inland, and our technology, smart unit economics and lean growth strategies will help make this a reality.” 

The Chicago market entry comes just over three months after Buyk’s service made its debut with the launch of free, “ultrafast” grocery delivery in New York City. Buyk said its online grocery model combines its proprietary technology stack with a network of dark stores, or “new generation” micro-fulfillment centers, to deliver fresh food, groceries and other essentials — including household and beauty care items — to customers’ homes within 15 minutes. Buyk also offers local New York City brands and said it aims to expand its in-app offering to include a selection of local Chicago favorites. 

The dark stores each carry 2,000 to 3,000 SKUs and are strategically located to enable maximum coverage in the fastest possible time, according to Buyk. The company noted that its technology optimizes the speed of order picking and delivery and provides detailed information on a hyperlocal level, allowing each dark store to tailor its stock to the communities it serves. 

Placed via the Buyk app, orders require no delivery fee or minimum spend and are collected within two minutes for delivery by bicycle-riding couriers — dubbed “buykers” — in another five to 10 minutes, Buyk reported. The company said its fulfillment centers are similar to grocery stores, with shelves and refrigerators stocked with products available for purchase, and direct partnerships with local suppliers enable price-matching with area grocery retailers.

Buyk kicked off its service in Manhattan on Sept. 14 and then in early November expanded to the New York City boroughs of Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx, served by 20 dark stores. At launch, the company said it aims to launch operations in “the largest metro areas across the U.S.” in 2022 as well as develop a private-label offering “in the not-too-distant future.”

Buyk was founded by entrepreneurs Rodion Shishkov and Slava Bocharov, who previously started and ran Samokat, a Russian instant grocery delivery service and, according to the company, one of the largest operators of dark stores among on-demand grocers outside of China. Walker, formerly senior vice president of restaurants at Nathan’s Famous, was named as Buyk’s CEO in mid-November. His 30-plus years of senior management experience in the hospitality and retail industries include such brands as Nathan’s Famous, Baja Fresh, Cinnabon and Subway, Buyk said.

“I’ve been highly impressed by both the company’s early success, as well as the proven expertise and track record of the founders. Add Buyk’s unique technology to the mix and you can see why I felt compelled to become part of the Buyk team,” Walker stated upon his appointment as CEO. “I am confident I can bring great value to the company and drive our fast-growing operations to meet our ambitious goals.”

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