A UX app analysis of q-commerce competitors Gorillas and Flink.
June 2, 2021 by Ángela Gómez Sánchez
UX is crucial for the success of an app, which is why we’ve decided to review two competing companies that rely heavily on their apps: Gorillas and Flink.
For those not familiar with them, these are two q-commerce companies based in Berlin. Quick commerce is the next evolutionary step in e-commerce and delivery: Customers place orders that they receive very shortly after.
Both Gorillas and Flink promise to have orders delivered within 10 minutes. On-demand grocery delivery has been a thing in major cities over the past years, but most markets haven’t heard of — or experienced — it yet.
Before we get into it, we need to understand the differences and similarities between the companies. While comparable, Gorillas has been on the market for more than a year already. This gives it a huge advantage when it comes to the current state of their app. They’ve had the time to tweak it to take it to where it’s at.
Both companies depend on their apps to receive orders and have their crew members fulfill them in dark stores — traditional retail stores converted to small warehouses.
Their fleet of bike riders then delivers the on-demand grocery orders within 10 minutes. Considering that everything starts with an app, ensuring a smooth user experience is necessary for scoring orders.
Let’s analyze these apps.
Gorillas dedicates the first screen to quickly explaining what the app and service do. Immediately after, there’s a permission request to use your location, which is clarified and seems reasonable.
However, users are asked to allow notifications right after. This permission request isn’t personalized, so you can only guess what types of notifications Gorillas wants to send you.
Giving users a bit more time before asking for permission would improve the user experience, and personalizing the notification permission request would result in a higher rate of granted permissions.
Flink doesn’t have a first screen that reminds users of why they downloaded the app. This addition would facilitate onboarding. Just like Gorillas, the first permission request is about location. The message included here explains the need for it in more detail.
A big UX issue arises right after: Flink already asks users for permission to track their activity across other apps and websites. While it’s explained that this data will be used to improve ads, it’s too big of an ask too early. Flink needs to build trust before requesting so much from users.
Gorillas lets you browse their product selection without making an account but won’t let you add items to your cart. This means that they force you to register right away if you don’t want to browse their selection twice: while getting convinced about the service and when ready to buy.
Also noteworthy is that Gorillas chooses the user sign-up as the moment to request permission to track what users do on other apps and websites. This is a more appropriate time to do so. If users have decided to sign up, it’s because they see the value in the service.
Besides, they offer plenty of sign-up options: Facebook, Google, phone number, and Apple ID. But beware: If you choose the Google sign-in and log into the wrong account, good luck switching to a different one! Who wouldn’t give up after several failed attempts of trying to go back to log into the correct account?
Not even after restarting the phone are you allowed to switch accounts or choose a different sign-up method. I had to delete and reinstall the app. Certainly not UX at its finest.
Flink’s main advantage is that they let you add items to your cart right away and, if any of them aren’t available in your area, they will remove them from the cart once you specify your address.
There’s less commitment involved with Flink: You don’t feel pressured to register until you’re ready. In fact, you won’t have an account per se; your order history and favorite items will be tied to the email account you use while ordering. Talk about an easy purchase experience!
A conversion funnel would help understand how effective the app’s onboarding process is. Funnels provide data that shows if there is a step that leads to user drop-off. Basic funnels list the different screens of an app. Advanced ones with custom events provide the level of detail needed to make the right decisions.
For example, Flink requesting users so early on for permission to track what they do on other apps could be costing them a large sum of users. Knowledge is power, and knowing this would give them the tools to iterate until they find the winning combination that makes users stay and make a purchase.
The UI design of Gorillas is generally excellent. Everything seems deliberate: from the positioning of the elements to the size of the buttons and everything in between.
Every section of the app has its purpose and is easy to navigate:
Banners link to the appropriate section or screen.
You can get in touch with an efficient Customer Success team with the click of a button.
You can search items in both English and German independently of the name shown on the listing.
They have designed it with UX in mind.
You can view the product selection by category and subcategory — and then scroll through the individual products. A list of the subcategories within each category is provided as an overview.
The “New” and “Berlin Buddies” product categories are particularly important. The first one allows users to check the latest product additions without manually searching for new items in every category, while the second one groups all local items together. Extrapolated to every city where they’re present, this is a valuable asset.
Flink falls short with the current design of their UI. They use the localization approach: making a local product from a global one. Whenever they penetrate a new market, they adapt to it — and make their app and their marketing efforts as local as possible.
This is why the products and categories on the app are in German — Gorillas had English-language categories to remain consistent. The issue with Flink is that the rest of the UI is in English, so they risk customers getting lost if they aren’t fluent in the local language.
On the other hand, localization is the way to go: particularly for a company that is expanding so quickly and seeking to dominate each market they enter. Maybe they should go all in or give users the option to pick the language they’re most comfortable with: English or the local one.
Banners are one of the elements of Flink’s UI that will cause the most amount of user frustration. Unlike those from Gorillas, these don’t lead anywhere and will leave users tapping on them for no reason. Heatmaps are a sure way of identifying these rage taps to fix the design.
The other major issue when it comes to UX design is the way the categories are displayed. You have to swipe right at the top of the page and then click on “Show all”, or scroll down to the end to select “View all”.
These CTAs are a bit too hidden and aren’t prominent in any way. After clicking on one of them, the complete list of categories will open up, and you can finally search through them. It’s just not easy enough to get there.
Even worse is that there is no category for new, local or gourmet items. Flink needs to add a last-added items category ASAP; the others can still wait but would be nice to have.
We need to mention that, once within a category, the UI gets a lot more intuitive: You can easily switch between categories and subcategories. What needs fixing is the main screen.
If you need to get support, you can do so simply — if you have the WhatsApp chat app installed. Flink uses this app instead of an in-app chat to handle customer issues.
This becomes a UX problem for users without the WhatsApp app, as they will need to install it to go ahead. If someone is already requesting help, the last thing you want to do is provide them with an unaccommodating experience.
Last and perhaps also least, many product images are oversaturated and sometimes even pixelated. But then again, Gorillas has the same issue. It’s a plus that both apps go above and beyond to show the nutritional value of products, and sometimes the allergens too.
None of the apps are consistent in this, but Flink does seem to put more emphasis on it.
In the cart, Gorillas shows a list of related products to those already added. It would be beneficial for them to measure how frequently customers add items at this stage — and which ones in particular.
The products that users add to the cart most frequently during this screen should be placed at the top of the selection. Custom events can track this data.
Very clever is the simple CTA that encourages users to suggest products they’d like to see added to their shop. Give users what they want, and they’ll keep coming back.
The checkout process is simple enough. It should be, as users have already needed to register to have been able to add anything to their carts.
Noteworthy: Everywhere, Gorillas claims that they will deliver your groceries within 10 minutes. That isn’t the case for my current location: According to the app, they deliver to me within 11 minutes. Having tested their service, I can add that it actually took 14 minutes to receive my order. Is that still impressive? Absolutely, but not so much after having been promised something quicker.
As previously mentioned, Flink makes the purchase experience as painless as possible. Users don’t even need to register; they only need to provide basic information — name, email, phone number, and address — to place their orders.
Mine were all delivered in just 4 minutes.
There’s an extra screen in between placing the order and having it delivered. Here, only Gorillas — for now, that is — allows users to track the location of the rider making the delivery. Thanks to this, customers know exactly when to expect to hear their doorbell ring. We’re sure Flink will be following suit soon; this nice-to-have feature seems to be becoming an industry standard for delivery apps.
Both of these apps don’t need much encouragement from the companies to get customers to use them. Every time customers need groceries delivered within 10 minutes, they will resort to one or the other. They will most likely prefer the one that offers the best product selection for the most competitive prices.
Despite that, Gorillas tries to get customers to purchase again by sending the occasional push notification to inform of limited-time offers, or make suggestions depending on the time of day or any events that may make users want to order from them. These little reminders can pay off, but they will backfire and lead to app uninstalls if overdone.
Tracking app usage after push notifications get sent will be crucial for Gorillas. Conversion funnels with custom events will help know if these notifications are turning into sales or customer churn.
They seem to be presenting themselves as a higher-end brand by the looks of their product selection. Gorillas would be the place to go when craving that one hard-to-find gourmet peanut butter that you can only buy at a specialty store halfway across town.
Flink, on the other side, has the potential to become the go-to q-commerce app for groceries: a new grocery shopping experience whose real competition is traditional supermarkets. Appealing to the masses while scoring repeat purchases weekly or even daily is a sure way to success.
Flink doesn’t send push notifications yet, but they should once they refine the app. At the stage they’re in, it makes total sense to lay off notifications.
In this category, both apps excel. Some may argue that neither these apps nor the service they provide address a user pain point because no one needs their groceries delivered in 10 minutes. But what if some do?
Maybe you don’t need your weekly grocery order delivered in such a short timeframe, but these apps can help in a pinch. Gorillas and Flink are there for you whether you forgot an ingredient for the recipe you’re trying out, you have a surprise visit or a sudden craving for something.
Besides, the amount of time saved by not going to the grocery store — if these apps were to become a replacement for you — is worth well over the delivery fee.
Scheduled grocery deliveries from traditional supermarkets or delivery services are a thing too, but nothing will adapt more to you than this new model. In that sense, both of these apps solve a pain point that many may not yet realize they have.
When it comes to these apps delivering what they promise, they do. From my experience, Flink more so than Gorillas. Some may argue that these apps are not relevant to them, but they are indeed revolutionizing how grocery shopping is done. And they do deliver — in 10 minutes, and what they promise.
Both the Gorillas and the Flink app do what they’re supposed to do: They enable users to order groceries delivered within 10 minutes of placing the order. Considering that the Flink app has been on the market for only half a year, it’s outstanding.
It was first released in December of 2020, but it didn’t even become Flink until January 2021. It will take a lot of work to get the user experience where it needs to be, but it will be worth it. Albeit frustrating at times and not clean enough, the UI still manages to work. The app gets the job done, and that’s more than can be said for other apps.
A few small changes will greatly improve the UX, resulting in repeat customers and, more importantly, avoiding churn. Users aren’t only looking for a product or service, but for an experience too. Give them a bad one, and you’ll lose them forever.
If you work at Flink and are reading this, start by fixing the app banners that don’t link to anything and how categories are displayed. You won’t regret it.
The UX that Gorillas offers is much more seamless, but it’s expected after more than a year of iterations. It is an easy-to-use and visually appealing app, but still not perfect. Measuring changes and the impact of push notifications, and further personalization, will go a long way here.
It offers a better experience — for now. The competition is catching up!
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