A new app called Dumpling is looking to take on grocery delivery giants Instacart and Shipt by allowing shoppers to set up business for themselves.
The company revealed this week that it has raised $6.5 million in Series A funding, a round led by Forerunner Ventures -- a new partner for Dumpling -- as well as existing investors Floodgate and FUEL Capital. The new round brings the company’s total raise so far to $10 million.
“Dumpling is a dramatic evolution in the face of the severely broken gig economy. We empower disenfranchised gig workers to be truly independent business owners and enable them to build financial stability and wealth for the long term,” said Joel Shapiro, co-founder and co-CEO of Dumpling, which maintains dual headquarters in Berkeley, California and Seattle. “Now, with the stark reality that millions of jobs lost due to COVID-19 may not return, Americans more than ever need a more viable, sound and flexible way to earn a living.”
In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, Dumpling said it has seen an unprecedented 20-fold surge in order volume that has sustained as people are returning to their routines. COVID-19 has accelerated online grocery adoption at a rate that the industry hadn’t expected to see for years. To wit, online grocery sales rose 65% to $6.6 billion in May from March, according to Barrington, Illinois-based research firm Brick Meets Click. About 43 million customers shopped online last month, up from 39.5 million in March.
Dumpling allows shoppers (the workers who pick orders) to dictate when they're available and how much they'll charge to shop and deliver for clients. Dumpling even allows shoppers to set a minimum tip. In addition, Dumpling doesn't add any markup to grocery prices.
However, whereas shoppers with Instacart, for example, have to pay only for their own transportation and insulated bags, Dumpling shoppers have to pay fees to list and sell their services through the platform, too, according to The Los Angeles Times. There’s a $10 fee to get set up on the site. That offers access to a Dumpling credit card, a listing on the company’s website and Dumpling’s ZIP code-fueled shopper search tool. In addition, shoppers pay either a $39 monthly fee or a $5 per-transaction fee each time they book a job.
Dumpling currently powers more than 2,000 grocery shopping and delivery businesses across all 50 states. The company said that its shoppers earn on average three times more than Instacart workers. In turn, clients trust the personal shopper they choose with large repeat orders, and receive a more personal, higher-caliber level of service, according to Dumpling.
“We believe that the future of work – and local communities – will be built on ownership and trust,” said Nate D’Anna, Dumpling's co-founder and co-CEO. “We are investing in features and tools for business owners to power sustainable connections with their clients. Forerunner takes this same people-centered approach, and has a long history of identifying and supporting companies innovating at the cusp of dramatic behavior shifts.”