6 things to know before you use Countdown's new delivery app MilkRun
The new version of the Countdown-driven service MilkRun says it will deliver your groceries in an average time of 30 minutes of placing an order. Is it possible?
Last year, MilkRun went bust offering delivery in 10 minutes. Now, the service is back with more modest goals: your groceries delivered in 60 minutes or less. And if it takes longer than an hour, you'll receive discounts on your next purchase.
If the name rings a bell, that's because MilkRun originally launched in 2022 with the promise of superfast delivery via e-scooter. It didn't last, with high overheads cited for its failure, and the brand was purchased by Woolworths then reimagined and relaunched in Australia.
Now, MilkRun is delivering to select suburbs in Auckland and Wellington with grand promises of having your groceries to you "in minutes". Through its app, 10,000 products are offered, including drinks, ready-to-eat items, meat, dairy and vegetables, all coming with a "fresh or free" guarantee. Plans to expand to Christchurch and Dunedin are underway.
Many of the items offered through the MilkRun app are similar to those offered through Countdown's online store, with small increases in price. Specials also reflect those offered by Countdown's Onecard, although a spokesperson told Consumer NZ there were differences. “Our focus is on ultra-convenience,” they said.
Consumer decided to give MilkRun a go and placed an order on a Friday morning. We were impressed by the speed with which our items were delivered and their quality once they arrived. We were less impressed by a problem with our order and the sluggish speed at which it was sorted it out. A second order, placed during Auckland’s evening rush hour, was delayed by traffic, resulting in an apology and a discount.
If you're thinking about trialling the new-look MilkRun, here's what you need to know.
This MilkRun is quick – really quick
Consumer ordered an office morning tea shout at 10.33am on a recent Friday morning, including corn chips, hummus, roasted peanuts, salsa, a bag of chocolate bars and an assortment of chilled drinks. Through the app, we were promised our order would be packed and delivered by 11am, a laughably quick time. To our surprise, MilkRun beat that time, arriving at our door at 10.51am – a mere 18 minutes.
While that's not the 10 minutes the original MilkRun would have promised, it's far less than the new version’s cited average delivery time of 30 minutes. We even received a hand-written note telling us to "Have a good day!"
A spokesperson says delivery times can vary depending on how far you are from the Countdown store where your order is packed. "If we can do it faster, we do."
Yes, there are fees to cover that speed
MilkRun's launch special is that your first three orders are free of delivery fees. After that, it will cost you $7 each time; a price on a par with competitors like DoorDash and Uber Eats. Most items were slightly more expensive than if they were purchased through Countdown’s online delivery platform or at one of its stores.
In total, our $42 MilkRun order would have cost $39.29 if we’d bought them ourselves at Countdown. "It is a different model than Countdown supermarkets,” a spokesperson says. “We’re running separate weekly specials and have a flat $7 delivery fee.”
MilkRun won't deliver in every suburb
In Auckland, Onehunga and Orewa are out, but Ponsonby and Parnell are in. MilkRun boasts it delivers to 77 suburbs across Auckland and Wellington, and you can see if your work or home address is listed.
A spokesperson says expansion plans are in full swing, with 16 new suburbs coming online in Auckland this week. By later this year, Dunedin and Christchurch will be "fully covered".
Last week, my home suburb of Waterview wasn’t covered. This week, it is – but it is quite a way from the Countdown store where packing takes place, meaning longer delivery times.
Some products aren't available
You can get bread rolls and a hot roasted chicken for your lunch, but if you want to order some quick alcoholic drinks for your Friday afternoon, MilkRun isn't the place. My desk mate was also disappointed he couldn't get his favourite honey-roasted peanuts and had to make do with the chilli-infused variety.
Right now, every order over $20 receives a free bag of paprika-flavoured Proper crisps to trial, which were very tasty. And our drinks came with that fresh-out-of-the-fridge feeling, which was a nice touch.
MilkRun's customer service could be improved
While Consumer was happy with the condition of our order, and impressed by the incredibly quick delivery time, we were less enamoured by MilkRun’s customer service.
We had one big problem with our order – a kilo of bananas that cost us $4.20 but turned out to be one banana. Yes, just a single banana fell out of the bag!
We sent an email instantly to MilkRun’s customer service team, and it took all day to get a response. We received a refund for what they called a “very expensive banana”, plus a $5 credit.
When your delivery time is 18 minutes, Consumer believes MilkRun should be able to sort out complaints in a timelier fashion too.
It really does depend on where you live
When Waterview came online this week, Consumer decided to stress test MilkRun. At 5pm, at the peak of Auckland’s traffic commute chaos, we ordered cold drinks and ice cream to go with that night’s dinner, and muffin splits and raspberry jam for the following day’s breakfast.
MilkRun’s estimated delivery time was just under 60 minutes, but it took closer to 80 minutes. “Sorry we made you wait,” said the email that arrived soon after our order. “We want you to experience delivery how the MilkRun gods intended and that would be heaps faster.” The email included a $5 off voucher for our next order.
Would we order from MilkRun again?
While its prices are more expensive than taking that trip to the supermarket, the speed of MilkRun’s service is impressive. Yes, you can use it as a service for snacks and cold drinks, or to cave in to those 3pm chocolate cravings. But MilkRun could be used to help solve another problem: dinner!
You could, if you needed, order a few quick ingredients – perhaps mince, burger buns, cheese, tomatoes and lettuce – and have them delivered to your office. That not only saves a peak-time trip to the supermarket, but also being tempted to grab unhealthy takeaways on the drive home.
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