The complexities of providing fresh food products to even a limited local market demand the most sophisticated tools for managing routes, drivers and deliveries.
Washington’s Green Grocer is a “hyper-local” provider of farm boxes and meal kits. In business for 25 years, it restricts coverage to the Washington, D.C. metro area, including Maryland and Virginia. Products include organic produce, dairy items and grass-fed meats.
“Our mission is to work with farmers and makers toward a more sustainable food future,” says director of marketing Shelby Mack. But a recent change of ownership has broadened the company’s ambitions, toward expanding its product line while becoming more efficient “with what we sell and how we sell it.”
Farm boxes — including fresh, organic ingredients along with recipes for how they might be prepared — made up the company’s original offering, long before the advent of meal-kit delivery services such as Blue Apron and Hello Fresh. Now, under owner Tom Perchinsky, WGG is making a play for that market as well. It has grown rapidly to offer more than 100 meal kits of its own, and plans further expansion of the category.
WGG’s old system of managing orders and deliveries wasn’t up to the demands of a larger and more varied assortment of products. Apt to fail a couple of times a month, the software lacked the ability to integrate marketing with order fulfillment, as well as a means of optimizing drivers’ routes. Most importantly, it wasn’t able to scale in line with the company’s plans for growth.
WGG found a solution in Delivery Biz Pro, creator of a suite of software for managing home delivery that is now part of GetSwift Limited. It was especially drawn to the vendor’s tools for customer acquisition and management, Mack says. GetSwift has integrated WGG’s e-mail system with the delivery side. It also includes features for delivery-route optimization.
DBP founder and GetSwift vice president Judd Payne launched his company in 2007, with what he describes as “a five-gallon bucket in a barn with a dairy farmer.” He started with capabilities for customer and route management, along with basic shopping requirements on the front end. Today, DBP under GetSwift provides companies that offer a recurring-delivery model with “everything you need to do business,” including inventory management, a front-end marketplace, mobile-enabled order placement, driver and order routing, payment collection and data backup in the cloud.
As Payne recalls, WGG “had a good customer base, but its attrition rate was high, average order totals weren’t awesome, and ordering and signup was a mess.” The logistics end of the business was “Band-aided together with lots of different tools and solutions. It wasn’t a perfect fit.”
GetSwift spent a significant amount of time on consulting, training and onboarding the system for WGG. “Anytime you’re converting from one web platform to another can be intense,” says Mack. “You’re moving images and descriptions. The old platform wasn’t able to transfer as much data as we wanted into the new one.”
Nevertheless, vendor and customer got the job done, and the GetSwift software has been up and running since the summer of 2019. Now, says Mack, WGG can follow up with customers when they register but don’t place an order within a couple of days. The tool can be customized to send a promotional e-mail with, say, a customer’s 20th order, offering credits or discounts with the attainment of certain purchasing milestones. It can also ping inactive accounts and aid in new-customer acquisition. And it allows WGG to send out weekly e-mail blasts that inform customers of what’s on the way in their farm boxes.
“The cool thing about that is I can see how many people clicked on the e-mail,” says Mack. “If we convert [to a sale], I can see what they purchased.”
Since implementing the tool from GetSwift, WGG has increased its customer base by 20% and customer retention rate by 40%. “Which is huge,” notes Mack. “That’s one of the struggles in online business.” New customers are obtained through e-mail blasts and social media outreach.
“Just staying in communication is part of the reason why we’ve been able to retain so many customers,” Mack adds.
Individual orders have grown as well. According to Payne, WGG’s average order amount in the network was previously around $30; now it’s about $82. He attributes the increase to the system’s higher degree of user-friendliness, making it easier to view orders and selections, enact changes, and complete purchases. “It’s a much more convenient shopping experience that lends itself to impulse buys,” he says.
“WGG was a pleasure to work with,” Payne adds. “They had a great customer base established, and were ripe for investment in systems to take it to the next level. WGG had already done the heavy lifting of [determining] ‘is there’s a market in our area that wants our product, and can we get them to stick with us for a couple of years?’ Now they just have to keep up the technology, website and ordering system, and people will come. It’s perfect.”