Using business models, to-dos, and artificial intelligence to reimagine grocery

In the world of online grocery shopping, Hungryroot is a small player. The company faces giants like Amazon, Instacart and the online operations of major Bricks & Mortar chains. However, in a sector where many have struggled, it continues to grow. How? And what lessons does its story have for companies outside its industry?

Combining the business model and the work to be done

The formula starts with the Hungryroots business model. Each week, the company sells about 600 unique items. That’s compared to a small retailer like Trader Joes, which offers 4,000 items, or a mid-sized grocery store with more than 35,000 items. But the value proposition for customers when it comes to buying a few things isn’t as cheap as a club store like Costco might offer.

CEO and founder Ben McCain explains the difference. We have 600 items, but we offer over 6,000 recipes using them. which provides personalization and helps the customer know what they want to do. The recipes are always evolving with the collection. In a typical food experience, there is no element to discover. But our clients come to us with other goals, such as weight loss or improving blood work. We understand the work to be done or the underlying motivations and problems of our clients and help them achieve it. They efficiently handled grocery shopping, meal planning and the entire process for the customer. Because doing so allows us to surprise them.

Combining user experience and tasks to be done

Second, the company creates a unique user experience. Hungryroot already asks questions about preferences, such as whether the customer eats breakfast sitting down and how sweet they like it. After the first delivery, he has more questions.

We’ve been really thoughtful about optimizing the user journey so that we’ve only been asking the right questions that hit our algorithm at the right time, McKean says. So, most of the time we don’t need to ask you but we infer it based on your user behavior. For example, everyone says they want to eat healthier. But, for a subset of customers, when you automatically put healthy foods in their cart, they opt out. For some people, they say they’re trying to do something they’re not really doing, and for others their definition of healthy is different. We combine consumer insights about what’s being done with data insights to deliver results.

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