What are dark stores?

Why you need to know this new logistics format that brings agility to deliveries

Dark Store is an English term that gained notoriety in the Brazilian market last year. However, what does this concept represent in the logistics context? It is a key tool to meet something that customers, especially Brazilians, expect from online purchases: agility in delivery.

Although it is not new, the dark store concept is already present in the strategy of companies like Walmart and Carrefour outside Brazil, which use these small distribution points to increase their capillarity.  


What are dark stores?

Dark stores are small distribution points, specifically allocated within large urban centers. Unlike the large Distribution Centers, located at a distance and occupying spacious areas, dark stores are much smaller and closer to the consumer.  And therein lies the trump card in their operation.

Because they are easier to install, less expensive to operate, and facilitate the increase of capillarity in densely populated cities, dark stores facilitate the delivery of purchases and online orders, serving the region where they are installed. It’s like a “micro” distribution center to serve a neighborhood, vicinity or location. Because of the proximity and localized management, delivery time – the Achilles heel of Brazilian e-commerce – is considerably reduced.


Dark Stores in Brazil

Here in Brazil, GPA has already started to bet on this format in January 2021, with the inauguration of its first dark store in Rio de Janeiro. With the increase in demand during the pandemic, the group announced the resumption of the partnership with the Colombian delivery startup Rappi, which installed 26 of these dark stores throughout Greater São Paulo with the goal of shortening the delivery of supermarket products as much as possible.

This year, in April, another company started to adopt the model together with Rappi. Grupo Mambo joined Rappi’s “super-fast delivery” program, with a maximum delivery time of 10 minutes, supported by dark stores located in the Itaim Bibi neighborhood in São Paulo’s capital.  

Besides the advantage of faster delivery time, customers also have, via the delivery application, more time to place orders. While the stores are open during business hours, purchases made from the application may be made from 8 am to midnight, with a mix of approximately 200 food, cleaning, hygiene, and other products.