Shopify Launches Its Own Shopping App; Neo Energy Offers Free Energy in Face of Lockdown


The FGB Digest brings you the latest news on the world’s fastest growing direct-to-consumer and challenger brands. In today’s edition: Shopify launches its own shopping app; Neo energy offers free energy in face of lockdown; and Cheetah raises USD$36m amid pivot. 

Shopify launches its own shopping app

Shopify is launching Shop, it’s own-brand shopping app. The business, which primarily powers online stores, says Shop is an update and rebrand of Arrive, an app for tracking packages from Shopify merchants and other retailers, which the company says has been used by 16 million consumers already.

Shop includes those same package tracking capabilities, but it also allows consumers to browse a feed of recommended products, learn more about each brand and make purchases using the one-click Shop Pay checkout process.

Carl Rivera, the general manager of Shop, told TechCrunch that the app is a response to a broader shift — not just from desktop to mobile commerce, but also from mobile web to native mobile apps. The challenge, he suggested, is that most of us only download and shop from a handful of native apps, so it can be hard for an independent brand to launch an app of their own.

Neo Energy offers free energy in face of lockdown

Fledgling challenger brand Neo Energy has announced it is offering free electricity to new customers for June and July.

Launched earlier this year, Neo is a white label of Euston Energy and currently serves 1,000 customers. Neo’s chief executive Oliver Friedrich told Utility Week that the offer will be paid for through the company’s marketing budget.

The offer is available until the end of April for new customers and applies only for electricity. Customers will continue to be billed as normal for their gas usage throughout.

There have been concerns in recent years about challenger brands offering extremely cheap tariffs to the point where they become financially unstable. However, Friedrich described the offer as “just another risk”.

Friedrich, who previously worked with Brilliant Energy, which has since ceased trading, and URE Energy which had its licence revoked in the summer of 2019, believes suppliers have a duty to do their share of helping customers who are struggling financially, especially in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

Cheetah raises USD$36m amid pivot

Cheetah, a restaurant wholesale app that has pivoted to selling to consumers amid Covid-19, has raised USD$36m. The funding brings the total raised by Cheetah to USD$66m, the company said.

Cheetah’s pivot comes at a key moment for the company and points to how there seem to be, generally speaking, two very different narratives underpinning the world of startups at the moment. 

On one hand, some companies are seeing a huge boost to their business, when their existing business model perfectly addresses a current need. On the other, companies that are hard pressed to fit any current need are feeling the pinch. Cheetah is an example of how a company in the latter category has used its resources and pivoted to becoming a business in the former.

Its wholesale delivery business for restaurants — which had some 300 customers before COVID-19, has largely dried up. So it’s now set up a new service called Cheetah For Me, where it offers bakery items to beverages, dairy, meat, poultry, seafood, fresh produce, condiments, snacks and cleaning supplies to individuals to buy, and distributes those orders via a selection of pick-up points.

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