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With a click, recipe ingredients delivered to the doorstep

August 18, 2014

In what it claims is an American first, Foodily, a social network and recipe search engine for foodies, has found a way to send recipe ingredients directly to a shopping cart for home delivery, often next day. Its new Popcart technology allows users to select from millions of recipes and transfer the ingredients to FreshDirect, which fulfills the order.

Granted, you get more than you need to cook the dish just once, and there is a minimum order charge, but none of the other apps or grocers with recipes and online shopping has yet apparently merged the two.

According to a press release, Popcart allows consumers to browse recipes across more than 150+ million food websites and blogs. It looks to address consumers' top routines, desires and challenges around preparing and shopping for food:

  • Eighty percent of home cooks find recipes online (Allrecipes Measuring Cup Reports, 2014);
  • Seventy-five percent of consumers prepare most of the food their family eats from scratch (FreshDirect Insights, 2014);
  • In the past 10 years, the number of consumers that say shopping for ingredients is the hardest part about getting dinner on the table grew by 24 percent (Allrecipes Measuring Cup Reports, 2012).

"The web is the number one resource for home cooks, but when you go from online to browsing to in-store shopping, buying the ingredients can take hours and be a deterrent to getting dinner on the table," said Foodily's CEO Andrea Cutright in a statement. "Popcart removes the friction from shopping for recipes, making meal planning more efficient than ever before."

Many apps create shopping lists, leaving customers to place orders separately, while grocers may use their own recipe databases for shopping lists. Door-to-Door Organics, for example, offers doorstep deliveries, using "planning and shop-by-recipe tools." Food Planner and Ziplist facilitate integrated meal plans, grocery lists and recipes, but stop short of turning ingredients into lists sent directly to shopping carts.

The British Retail Consortium recognizes a great opportunity, however, claiming "many grocers are integrating their online shopping offer with recipe websites and apps. This means that when customers find a recipe they like, they are a mere one click away from having all the ingredients placed in their online shopping basket," Real Business reported.

Discussion Questions:

Is linking recipe websites to home grocery delivery a major e-commerce opportunity? In what other ways should stores be looking to capitalize on the popularity of recipe websites?

While we value unfettered opinion, we urge you to show respect and courtesy for people or companies about whom you comment. Keep in mind that this is a public, professional business discussion. RetailWire reserves the right to edit or refuse the publication of remarks that we deem unsuitable. We may also correct for unintended spelling and grammatical errors.

Instant Poll:

How would rate the opportunity to link recipe websites to e-commerce?


Over time, these "content and commerce" plays will become increasingly important.

In the U.K., where "full-basket" online grocers are nationally prevalent, players similar to Foodily like Foodity and Whisk have seen reasonable uptake. Given the increasing popularity of meal-planning and recipe-sharing sites, embedding add-to-basket and buy-it-now functionality directly into recipe content is a compelling idea.

When AmazonFresh expanded from Seattle to California, it offered a similar recipe-to-cart function. The challenge in the U.S. is that full-basket online grocers are a much more local phenomenon, limited to high-density, large-scale urban metros. This is changing a bit with the rapid growth of Instacart, which is bringing brick-and-mortar grocers online at a breakneck pace, so perhaps it will change soon.

Still, I expect most content to gradually become shoppable. Swoop is doing similar work to link recipe content to local products on promotion, and Yummly is building interesting capabilities.

The broader trend is just getting started. Amazon's #AmazonCart experiment with Twitter foretells what many expect will be more seamless e-commerce capabilities embedded inside of Twitter. Pinterest is gradually building a business model around its interest- and taste-driven social network. The entire "second-screen" phenomenon that allows shoppers consuming video or music content to view and buy related products is getting more sophisticated by the month. And Amazon's FireFly feature in its new Fire Phone (as buggy as it is) is essentially trying to make all physical objects/media "shoppable."

The biggest challenge at the moment is that shoppers aren't aware of these capabilities, and that many aren't necessarily in the mode to buy when consuming content. Until awareness and understanding grows, these use cases will likely remain somewhat niche. But they will become commonplace, and now is the time to learn.

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Keith Anderson, VP, Strategy & Insight, Profitero

Oh, come on now.

This is not the way to buy ingredients, or work with recipe sites. People look up recipes online, often checking multiple sites for the same dish, then make it the way they want to. They don't need to have specific ingredients delivered. I predict a short shelf life for this one.

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Cathy Hotka, Principal, Cathy Hotka & Associates

This just might be the missing ingredient to eating healthier!

The royal pain with online recipes is that you never seem to have the ingredients on hand. The result is that a lot of great healthy dishes never get made because time-strapped parents do not have the time to run to the store to find them, or miss them on their shopping list.

Home delivery sounds like a major win. The only downside described for FreshDirect is that they ship more ingredients than needed for one meal—not a great thing if you don't like the dish. On the plus side, you could integrate several recipes for a weekly meal plan shipped to your door.

Most grocers have online recipes. Some have a pick service so groceries are ready for pickup at the store (some have food boxed and ready to go in food lockers). The BIG IDEA for grocery stores would be to combine the two: one-click recipe order to provide a value service of all ingredients ready to go AND in the process generate a trip to the store.

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Chris Petersen, PhD, President, Integrated Marketing Solutions

I like this idea. I imagine that grocery chains (Kroger, Peapod, Giant, etc.,) as well as recipe destinations (like Allrecipes.com and Food Network) will begin to incorporate this digital function into their apps and websites. So, it is a good debut of a useful new feature, but I am not sure that Foodily itself will be the ultimate winner.

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Liz Crawford, SVP, Strategy & Insights, Head of ShopLab, Match Drive

For a segment of the real cooks the web is their source for recipes. The best resource and the most-used resource for PROVEN recipes is other people (friends, relatives, old 3x5 cards of secret family recipes). There are family cooks that do use web-based recipe sites, and this is a top target for the home delivery of ingredients.

Grocery stores could spin up an in-store service that takes a recipe sheet, created online by the cook, and gathers all of the needed supplies into a box that is waiting for the cook/consumer who is at the store.

This also expands the service level of the store and creates more shopper loyalty.

A cook sends in the list of items. They are pre-picked, and the cook does other shopping and rings out. This gives the cook a chance to do some recipe planning for the week and to make sure the right brands and sizes are picked.

Too many times people like me have been sent on a food run to get a different type of sugar, flour or other ingredients, because we bought the WRONG brand in the first place. How were we supposed to know? We are just eaters—not cooks!

The web and home delivery cannot replace what a cook can gain in the store from talking with other shoppers about recipes and cooking process ideas.

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Tom Redd, Global Vice President, Strategic Communications, SAP Global Retail Business Unit

Other than a few large markets this will largely be a waste of time and energy for most merchants. Only a small portion of the population is oblivious to grocery and ingredient pricing. In many homes grocery cost is the major monthly expense. These shoppers are not going to be satisfied to let store personnel pick out their meat, produce or even canned goods. These people are not going to use this service and gearing up your store to meet this "opportunity" will largely be a waste of time and effort. It will never be too late to jump on this bandwagon. Check out all the restaurants who have been duped into spending time and money on take out and delivery only to have the "great business opportunity of the decade" produce little or no real business. Stick with running your business, block and tackle and let your competition chase the silver bullet. More will be gained by keeping your beer cold!

Ed Dennis, Sales, Dennis Enterprises

This will work until the second time the user figures out that they just got delivered a box/can/pound of XYZ that is the same as the one they already have on hand. Adding an "opt-out" check-off to the ingredient list would go a long way to solving that.

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Ben Ball, Senior Vice President, Dechert-Hampe

Is it a good idea for Foodily? I think it's a good idea for grocers. I'm not sure how it will work for Foodily, but the bottom line is they have to try. Foodily has only been around for four years. The site shares recipes. Like any other social networking site, the only way they can survive is to generate profit. It's the dilemma every website faces. It's the reason Facebook sputtered in the beginning. It's the reason Twitter is frantically trying to figure out what they can sell to make money. It's the reason OpenTable is successful. If food is Foodily's business, then it makes sense for them to sell it. It also makes sense for them to sell advertisement space to those companies whose products are being used. Foodily already has a lot of competition. Especially since they are just shipping product (and usually too much).

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Janet Dorenkott, VP & Co-owner, Relational Solutions, Inc.

Another variant is Blue Apron, which goes one step further and delivers only the ingredients required, Fed Ex'd to your doorstep in an ice box. I just received my first order this week and while an interesting concept, the over-the-top packaging and labor required to execute suggests yet another venture-funded experiment hitting like a tsunami with mega-marketing bucks, only to find crumbs left over when the money dries up. But, grocery stores, where are you? Ingredients? Recipes? Picked up in-store? Why is this door even open?

Frank Beurskens, CEO, ShoptoCook, Inc.

Can you imagine Walmart or Amazon doing this?


Of course this is a good opportunity, however, as online grocery continues a relatively slow adoption, the very premise of online food shopping seems to be the obstacle. As long as online grocery has been around (since approx. 1989!), the U.S. population has not been quick to embrace it. Overseas, there are definitely examples of cultures that participate with this e-commerce category in a bigger way than in the U.S. However, we in the U.S. have been slow to make internet grocery shopping a regular habit. The percentage of groceries sold via online services is still dwarfed by the typical physical supermarket business.

I think online food shopping needs to be promoted far more aggressively in order to reap the full potential of this revenue stream for both retail merchants and CPG brands.

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Ralph Jacobson, Global Retail Industry Analytics Marketing Executive, IBM

This is early days for the concept, but definitely a good start. There will be a learning curve for shoppers as they decide the value of the service. As an occasional use, there is potential for some shoppers—sounds quite handy for family gatherings, parties, etc. But for daily meals, home cooks who watch their budget try to keep a well managed pantry—after a few complete recipe shops, an "overstock" of extra ingredients is likely. Integrating ingredients on hand with the new recipe ingredients is a time—consuming task for working home cooks. Sure, there will be an app coming soon!

Anne Bieler, Sr. Associate, Packaging and Technology Integrated Solutions

This concept is good on multiple levels: Aspiration, convenience, and social. Lots of people would like to take a shot at making a special dish and this fulfills that goal in an easy manner. Beyond the convenience of having the ingredients delivered, there is the added challenge of pricy ingredients that may not be used again. Many special, exotic, new, or unusual dishes call for a tsp of this and a tbsp of that—ingredients you may not use again for months, or ever. My own purchase of a large bottle of fish sauce and truffle oil comes to mind. If executed properly, I think there is an audience for this type of social integrated offering.

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Larry Negrich, Director, Business Development, TXT Retail

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