“Butlon is a derivative of online butler; everything that has to do with food and drink, but online, “Pinna points out when asked. While with his previous company he was still active in beauty salons, pedicures and manicures, nowadays he likes to put his teeth into meal delivery and the online grocery market for business. The young entrepreneur founded Butlon in 2017, with an initial focus on the development of a software platform for restaurants and web shops. “A competitor of Thuisbezorgd and Uber Eats, so to speak,” said Pinna. After the start in Amsterdam, Enschede, Emmen and Assen were also added to the roadmap at a certain point.
Business was steady until Covid-19 suddenly broke out. “Our field staff could no longer leave. Without corona we would not have been here now, “Pinna looks back. Then the idea arose to deliver groceries. “We started on a small scale in May. However, this caught on so well that we soon started to take things more seriously. We initially delivered locally, by entering into a partnership with several transporters we were able to go nationwide with Butlon in June. This also enabled us to improve the order picking process and expand the range. “
Butlon’s wish to cross the border
There has also been a close collaboration with catering wholesaler Meledi, part of ILG Food Group, for about a year and a half. This joining of forces enables affiliated restaurants to make purchases in the Butlon shop. “A large part of the food chain is in our platform,” Pinna explains. “We also supply delivery bicycles and scooters, for example. We actually want to be able to facilitate everything. “
In order to properly serve the various restaurants, the online butler has currently set up two service points at the wholesaler’s branches in Amsterdam and Rotterdam. The young entrepreneur’s approach is to also open service points in the other branches. In addition to six locations in the Netherlands, Meledi is present in Belgium (one location in Antwerp) and Germany (four locations). Salient: Butlon’s Enschede head office is a stone’s throw from our eastern neighbors. “That makes the step across the border easier, yes,” Pinna admits. “We are already working on that, expanding to Germany, but realistically that will be the end of 2021 at the earliest. For example, transport is a new challenge there. “
In other words, music for the future, even though the Twente entrepreneur is by no means idle in the meantime. Its purpose? By 2021 he wants to process 100,000 supermarket orders and thus “grab a small piece of market share. But we really do it step by step. After all, you never know what could happen, “he remains sober. Moreover, one learns by doing – Pinna now knows that there is a lot to consider when delivering groceries ordered online.
Delivering groceries online is simply expensive
For example, there is still profit in streamlining internal processes and organizing logistics as smoothly as possible. “Fine-meshed distribution is top sport. Just look at Picnic and Albert Heijn, for example, they do not happen overnight and are really expanding step by step. Delivering groceries online is simply expensive and everything has to be as efficient as possible. “
Hinting at Butlon’s distinctive character, Pinna agrees that this is the combination of web super and meal delivery service in one. “Actually, we are not really a supermarket. I myself describe us as Lidl and Aldi in an online jacket. The strength of the chain is that we make a catering range available to consumers, consisting of top-quality products that we can offer much cheaper than the regular supermarkets, partly thanks to the bulk quantities. For example, ten kilos of chicken fillet costs € 40 with us – on offer – while at ordinary supermarkets you pay something from € 7.50 to € 8 for one kilo of chicken. Another example: a 1.5 liter bottle of Coke costs € 1.30 for us, while other parties charge an average of € 2 for this. “
When it started as an online supermarket, Butlon offered about a thousand products. Some two hundred to three hundred products have recently been added to the range, including bread, peanut butter and sprinkles. “The daily groceries; products you constantly need. But we will never, like other supermarkets, offer 30,000 products or so. The ultimate balance for us is about two thousand products. In doing so, we always look at customer demand and whether it fits our proposition. “When asked about Butlon’s target group, the entrepreneur indicates that in principle he focuses on the masses. “On the one hand, families that are somewhat larger. Who love benefits, but also want quality. On the other hand also one-pitters for example. “
In any case, things have gone fast for Pinna in a short time. “I took the knowledge that I gained at my previous company into account when setting up the processes of our current platform. The great thing is that it reinforces the other: both meals and groceries can be ordered via the same app. “Meanwhile, his team is about thirty people strong and other shareholders have joined. ‘It goes well. My mother now also works for Butlon, “laughs Pinna.
Facts & figures
→ Butlon currently has approximately 10,000 customers
→ Works with an external contact center that is available 24/7
→ Free delivery from 70 euros
This article was written by François Kroes, editor-in-chief Twinkle, and previously appeared on twinklemagazine.nl.