Whence’s On-Demand Delivery Impacting Local Businesses

Whence’s almost anything, almost now concept is proving to be a popular one. The on-demand delivery app launched in early October and has been steadily growing in both number of customers and number of retail partners.

“We are well ahead of schedule,” Founder Web Smith says. “We haven’t done any advertising. We are growing completely by word of mouth.”

Web Smith
Web Smith

In four months Whence has amassed about 2,000 subscribers, 400 of which are paid subscribers, and is up to 42 vendor partners. And, the next month should see an exponential increase with a goal of 80 retailers by March.

Whence is looking for vendors from all areas of the city.

“[Whence is] more than just a representation for the Short North,” Smith says looking to clear up a common misconception. The service has vendors from Grandview, Clintonville, New Albany, Easton, Short North and German Village.

“We’re just expanding on all of those areas as we go,” he adds.

Obviously the app looks to bring business to its retail vendors, but, “There’s more than just the economic effect, there’s the advertising effect,” Smith says. “It essentially breaks down the barriers that are typical of the very tight-knit neighborhood aspect of different communities in Columbus.”

It’s a discovery tool to find out what is available in the city…but with the immediate ability to execute a purchase. Smith provides an example. If a customer lives down in German Village they might not be aware of certain shops in Grandview or Clintonville, but the app is making it as accessible as if you actually lived by the stores.

This accessibility and access to new customers reflects the experience of the app’s retail partners.

“From day one we were attracting new clients while providing a new, personal service experience for existing relationships,” says Anne Fletcher, owner of German Village-based Pistacia Vera.

Short North juicer Native Cold Pressed has expanded their customer base through the app. “We are able to engage and connect with a customer base that may not have the time or convenience of actually coming into the store,” say owners Nicole Salvo and Erin Thacker. “Whence has a large audience of people who are interested in supporting local businesses, and who are interested in our product. Particularly those with extremely busy and high-powered lifestyles are drawn to using the app, as well as those in the suburbs that we cannot easily reach.”

An app update, however, will make it easier to reach more customers. The recently released new version eliminates the need for a monthly subscription with dynamic delivery pricing – aka the further a delivery, the higher the price. Smith says it’s a good option for people using the app as a one-off option versus their typical member who uses it five times a month.

The delivery service is also a game changer for some retailers.

“We have really embraced the Whence model,” says Maren Roth, owner of Short North boutique Rowe. “We use it the most as a delivery service that we can offer to our local customers. We charge the same fee that we charge for UPS shipping, however, they conveniently get their purchases within the same day. We have had a really positive response, people love the option.”

Tigertree is looking at a similar option for their shipping as well.

As far as what’s next, in addition to more retail partners, Smith is looking to take Whence to local, high-end hotels almost as a concierge service. He’s also turning to his retail partners to further improve upon the app.

“The way that we’re building this company is very simple,” Smith says. “We don’t exist, we don’t survive unless we’re making business easier for them so that’s what I focus on on a daily basis.”

For more information, visit whence.co.