goPuff delivers new heights of convenience and customer service


Photo Courtesy of goPuff

goPuff focuses on efficiency and accuracy of delivery as well as its relationship with its customers.

By Sam Schrage, Staff writer

As sophomores at Drexel University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Yakir Gola and Rafael Ilishayev could not predict that their small startup company would make breakthroughs in the delivery and convenience industries in the years to come.

Nearly four years later, goPuff has expanded to 24 markets across the country and has opened four markets alone in August, including its most recent launch in Champaign-Urbana.

Both Gola and Ilishayev come from business orientated families and learned the importance of a strong work ethic and entrepreneurship skills.

Doing everything from advertising across other college campuses to selling office furniture to make money for their startup, Gola and Ilishayev made goPuff their first priority, working over 16 hours a day to balance work and school.

While some of goPuff’s best sellers include water, Nerds Rope, Flamin Hot Cheetos and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, goPuff offers much more than just food. Their inventory also includes cosmetics, office supplies and household items including iPhone chargers.

goPuff’s products aren’t the only thing that separates them from other delivery services. goPuff also stores all of their products in warehouses, close in proximity to each market, and implements a simple binning system that separates orders in minutes.

“From the technical side, we operate differently than most delivery services,” said Jake Levin, head of marketing. “We are warehousing all of our products in locations close to whatever delivery area we are serving. We’re cutting out the middle man, which means we are able to deliver faster and keep the prices of the products low.”

The technological aspects of goPuff have also allowed it to deliver orders in 30 minutes or less, as well as target their ideal customers of young millennials.

Levin said the technology has also allowed them to target areas that they can deliver to more easily and accurately.

Customers can place their orders online through goPuff’s website, or place them on the goPuff app. goPuff charges a $1.95 flat delivery fee unless the order is above $49, in which case delivery is free. Hours of operation are from noon to 4:30 a.m. The goPuff app was solely designed to produce the best customer experience possible.

“A lot of the technology is based around making the customer experience better and making sure you’re getting your order as fast and as efficiently as possible,” Gola said.

While goPuff customer base is largely college students, they have also seen an increase in young professionals, particularly customers in their mid-to-late 20s.

“We’re a millennial service that was made by millennials for millennials. Everything from the way categories on the app are named, to the product descriptions and the overall feel is targeted at college students and young professionals,” Levin said.

goPuff’s millennial customer base, along with requests from goPuff users are two of the reasons why Gola wanted to expand to Champaign-Urbana.

“Champaign-Urbana is a perfect market for goPuff demographically. We also wanted to solve problems in Champaign-Urbana, like traffic and parking, and wanted to create more time for people to focus on schoolwork, their social life and their families,” Gola said.

Creating more time in her busy schedule is one of the reasons why Sydney House, freshman in LAS, wants to utilize goPuff more in her everyday life.

“Since I don’t have access to a lot of grocery and convenience stores, goPuff creates a less hectic way of accessing the things I need without worrying about how I’ll get it,” House said.

To Gola, the most important aspect of goPuff is the relationship they have with their customers. Their intimate company-customer relationship is just one way goPuff is revolutionizing the convenience industry.

“People don’t look at us as a company; they look at us as a best friend. We have a relationship with our customers that’s unprecedented in the entire delivery and convenience industry,” Gola said. “Customers are making music videos about us, visiting our warehouses to win prizes and get free snacks and tweeting about us every minute. These types of customer relationships just don’t exist.”

As for the future, goPuff plans to continue expanding across the U.S. and hopes to dominate even more markets of the products they are selling.

“We want to become that household name in every single market we’re in. It’s very important to me that in all our markets we feel like a local company,” Levin said. “We’re not trying to brand ourselves as this huge, international company.”

Wrapping up its fourth year in December, goPuff and its cofounders Gola and Ilishayev have come a long way from the ambitious 20-year-olds that started a business that could either fail or succeed. Gola said he encourages everyone to try starting a business if it intrigues them.

“My advice would be to try it. There’s not a better time to start a company than today. Failure is the best way to learn and even if everyone is telling you no, you never know if your risk will pay off. It’s all about how hard you work and how bad you really want it,” Gola said.

[email protected]