A dilapidated space under the railway arches is what some might expect from a rapid delivery dark store – something dark and a little cold. But that’s not the case for Weezy. Its dark store in Paddington is bright, pink and functional.

Nestled among offices on the ground floor of a modern building – its signature pink bikes waiting outside – the space is smart throughout and a far cry from a bargain warehouse.

The Paddington dark store opened earlier this year as one of a handful of Weezy sites in the capital promising groceries within 15 minutes of ordering.

It may be smaller than a Tesco Express but it stocks a similar number of SKUs, and with no customers to cater for, the shelves are brimming with up to 2,000 product lines.

The lack of customers also means Weezy doesn’t have to follow the layout of  a traditional supermarket. A somewhat jumbled system often leaves different product flavours metres apart, although the experienced pickers are well versed in the system. They are helped further by a numerical ordering system that categorises each of the  shelves .

“It’s optimised for fast pick and packing,” says Alec Dent, COO and co-founder. “We’re able to control exactly what’s in stock, which means we don’t have out of stocks. With a dark store model we can deliver more quickly and have better control of our inventory.”

When an order comes in, a ping sounds across the shop from the store’s main computer. Pickers jump into action while the order receipt is still printing.

One worker moves through the store, scanning the ordered items and adding them to a basket, while another readies a paper bag, writes out the customer’s name and adds some little smiley faces for good measure. In less than a minute, the order is picked, packed and heading out the store on a rider’s back. In fact, there’s a leaderboard for the fastest picker to fulfil an order each week. Apparently, the winner is often well inside 30 seconds.

The top-up shop

The typical Weezy basket is a classic midweek top-up of items, says Dent. “On average each customer orders around nine items per basket,” he explains. “And as they don’t have to carry anything they order, they’re then incentivised to fill their baskets a little more.”

The top four products in almost all of its stores  are avocados, lemons, eggs and bananas, as opposed to typical convenience impulse buys such as chocolate or cupboard staples like onions and rice.

“We’re mainly focused on fresh, quality groceries,” says Dent. “We believe the items people need to top up on the most are items that go off, such as fresh fruit and veg.”

Weezy describes its target market as “health-conscious foodies” who enjoy cooking from scratch and care about the quality of ingredients. Partnering with local mongers such as butchers or bakers is therefore an essential part of the Weezy model.

“Each of our fulfilment centres works with a local baker and a local butcher to make it easy for customers to get locally sourced products”

“Each of our fulfilment centres works with a local baker and a local butcher to make it very easy for customers to get some locally sourced products in a way that wouldn’t be possible in a supermarket.”

Weezy curates each store’s product range to the demands of its local customers, meaning that while some stock exclusively fmcg items, others hold one-off goodies like board games.

“We have a store that is not accessible to the public so we’re able to control exactly what’s in stock, and it means we don’t have any out of stocks,” says Dent.

It’s not just the product ranges that are tailored for each local audience. Weezy’s Paddington site is operating one of the brand’s first click & collect locations – a response to the convivial nature of nearby residents.

“Here in Paddington we offer a click & collect service because we have lots of residents that live extremely close and quite enjoy coming to say hi,” says Dent.

It’s a sign Weezy is no longer just about being there in 15. As it spreads its reach to new locations across the UK, its model is expanding too.