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06/16/2022

Ultrafast delivery platform Jokr to exit U.S. market

Dan Berthiaume
Senior Editor, Technology
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Jokr is leaving the U.S. a year after launching in New York City.

The competition to get U.S. consumers their online orders in 15 minutes or less is getting a little thinner.

Jokr, which launched in New York City in June 2021 with a promise to deliver mobile and online orders to its customers within 15 minutes or less via bicycle, is ceasing its U.S. operations. In a post on its official Instagram page, the company said its last day of deliveries in New York City and Boston will be Sunday, June 19.

Jokr will offer pick-up orders only for a week after it ends delivery operations. Founded by a New York-based team of former Walmart, Uber, Delivery Hero, and Softbank executives in April 2021, the company expanded its U.S. operations to Boston in December 2021. However, its Instagram statement cited the current economic situation as driving this course of action.

While we were able to build an amazing customer base…and lay the groundwork for a sustainable business in the U.S., the company has made the tough decision to exit the market during this period of global economic uncertainty,” the company said in a post attributed to “Team Jokr.”

This week, Jokr is allowing customers to shop up to 50% off all items, and will  send customers an email about savings on in-store pickup purchases the week of June 19.

According to Bloomberg, the company plans to continue operations in Latin America. Jokr has a presence in Latin American metro markets including Campinas, Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Mexico City, Monterrey and Guadalajara, Mexico; Bogota and Medellin, Colombia; Lima, Peru; and Santiago, Chile.

Bloomberg also reports Jokr will cut 50 employees from its global workforce of 950 employees, but will retain some workers based in its New York office, and is currently assessing whether it should sell or shutter its nine U.S.-based micro-fulfillment centers.

In March 2022, New York-based ultrafast delivery platform Buyk ceased operations. The company, which operated a network of 39 delivery-only “dark stores” in New York and Chicago, filed for voluntary Chapter 11 bankruptcy relief in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York.

However, Buyk CEO James Walker alluded to the current war in Ukraine and related sanctions on Russian financial transactions as key factors in the company’s decision to call it quits. 

In addition to Buyk and Jokr, the U.S. ultrafast delivery space includes dedicated services such as Gorillas, Gopuff and Gettir; as well as targeted offerings from larger delivery platforms such as Instacart and DoorDash. The sector has seen dramatic growth in the past year, fueled by factors such as the increasing availability of micro-fulfillment technology, ubiquity of consumer access to mobile apps, and existing popularity of same-day delivery programs.

[Read more: Ultrafast delivery is gaining momentum]

Ultrafast delivery will bear watching in the coming months to see if Buyk’s and Jokr’s issues really were mostly caused by sanctions on Russian financing and the larger global economy, or if the ultrafast delivery model may have deeper issues.