Unlocking the challenges of Nordic food delivery: An Exclusive Interview with Wolt

By September 25, 2019 News

Wolt is a Finnish technology company that is known for its food delivery platform. On Wolt’s apps or website, customers can order food from the platform’s restaurant partners, and either pick it up or have it delivered by the platform’s courier partners. Founded in Helsinki, Finland in 2019, Wolt today operates in 19 countries across the Nordics, Baltics and Eastern Europe. Wolt has raised over €150 million from ICONIQ Capital, Highland Europe, 83North, EQT Ventures, and other investors.

We have spoken with Wolt’s CEO and co-founder Miki Kuusi in preparation for his first time participation in the upcoming NOAH London 19 conference.

What makes Wolt’s food delivery service unique? 

Wolt was founded and initially launched in Helsinki, Finland. The city’s population of 630,000 meant that people were spread out. The geographic layout doesn’t easily allow food-delivery to happen frequently in a common area.

Initially, most of our markets also didn’t have a very strong food delivery culture. Secondary cities outside Helsinki are even smaller and more spread out than the capital. In addition, labor costs are high and unemployment levels low, which meant that we always had to be competitive in terms of average earnings people delivering with us make. In other words, we needed to figure out how to build our service under quite different circumstances than many other companies. 

As we didn’t have the advantage of a large domestic market, we had to build a strong foundation on technology and efficiency.

As we didn’t have the advantage of a large domestic market, we had to build a strong foundation on technology and efficiency. Ultimately, we found a way to efficiently and sustainably run our operation in even very small countries and cities. In fact, the smallest city we currently operate in only has some 20,000 people living in our delivery area. This wouldn’t be possible without the level of automation and optimization we needed to build into our product.

In addition, we’ve always focused on the customer experience. Every order has a live support chat one tap away from our users’ fingertips, while we respond to people reaching out to us on average in less than 45 seconds. Meanwhile, our app and design have won multiple awards, so we like to think that Wolt is very easy to use – we have some of the industry’s highest ratings on the App Store (4.8/5) and Google Play (4.7/5), and a whopping 91% of our users have recommended using Wolt to a friend.

How do you plan to use the $160M funding Wolt has recently raised this June?

We continue to invest in growth, technological development, hiring and marketing. We’re looking for great talent to join both the development side and operational side of our business. 

How do you adapt and localize your product for different markets?

As much as we are an international company, we are a local business. We have great teams across all our countries, who run the business very autonomously. On the app-side, we translate and localise all content. On the operations and marketing-side, we have local talent who make sure we resonate with the country’s and city’s culture in an authentic way. We also have local customer support and serve our customers in their own language.  

In most markets, the restaurant industry has overtaken the grocery industry in size. We expect this trend to continue.

What are the specifics of food delivery market in the Baltics and Nordics? In your opinion, how is this market going to grow in the upcoming 5 years?

There’s a growing consumption of services: in most markets the restaurant industry has overtaken the grocery industry in size. We expect this trend to continue for decades to come, as the restaurant industry is ultimately expected to become even twice as big as the grocery industry.

One reason for the trend is that people are busy and want affordable ease into their day-to-day. If we think forward on the decades-level, and assume that this growth trend holds, it’s actually a valid question as to whether or not that many apartments will have a kitchen as we currently know it (in Asia, there’s already a visible part of new apartments being built without kitchens).

Also, the restaurants are evolving. What made a great restaurant in the 90’s doesn’t exactly apply today: the operations are a lot leaner, because of the increased consumer share-of-wallet, there simply are a lot more restaurants and restaurant chains.

It will be your first time at NOAH Conference this year and we look forward to welcoming you! What do you expect from your participation at NOAH? 

I’m expecting high-quality talks about digital growth, and I’m also looking forward to meeting other attendees. I’ve heard good things about NOAH, so I’m excited to attend. 

Book your ticket now to watch Wolt’s presentation live on 31 October at NOAH London 19 (see the details in our program).