Clicking and Cooking at FreshDirect

Discussion
Jul 28, 2006
George Anderson

By George Anderson


FreshDirect will tell you that clicking and cooking go perfectly together.


The New York-based online grocery and delivery service earlier this week announced the launch of its One-Click Recipes program, allowing its customers to choose recipes from 53 top-selling Workman Publishing cookbooks.


The service enables FreshDirect’s customers to search and sort using a number of different criteria, such as main ingredient, type of cuisine, cooking method, number served, etc.


When a recipe is selected, One-Click makes it easy for shoppers to get what they need through an ingredients list that is easily added to their cart.


The One-Click service isn’t just about sales. FreshDirect has developed a system to serve customer betters to help them avoid buying products they already have and do not need to purchase.


Common items such as olive oil, for example, are identified by the FreshDirect system, which alerts customers they may already have the particular ingredient in their pantry. These items need to be manually selected by the user and are not automatically added to the cart. The system also reminds shoppers when they may have purchased an ingredient previously for another recipe to avoid duplication.


FreshDirect’s President, Steve Michaelson, said the company did some consumer research to gauge the value of the service for its customers, but the findings simply reinforced what he knew was the right decision.


“We are in the business of fresh food and meals–helping customers get a great tasting, nutritious meal, on the table each night. Recipes naturally fit that business,” he told RetailWire.


“We felt that we could be a better recipe solution than currently existed, by being able to directly connect the recipe with the purchase experience,” he added. “Before this service, when I found a recipe that I liked, I needed to hunt through a store for the ingredients, maybe more than one store. Maybe some of the ingredients were not in season, and I was back to square one. So having an online recipe directly linked to the purchase experience seemed like a better recipe solution than currently existed in the world, and one that only could be delivered online.”


According to Mr. Michaelson, growth in FreshDirect’s current markets served “is keeping us quite busy.” FreshDirect, however, is not simply taking a laisse-faire approach to using its One-Click Recipes service to draw in new customers and encourage current ones to buy more from the company.


“We will be marketing the recipes in a variety of ways. Most important, of course, is on our site,” he said. “We will have aggressive in-store merchandising programs in place–ads and other placements within our own site. We will also be advertising this more broadly in the fall. We will have outdoor billboards, ads on our trucks, and we are looking at other marketing vehicles.”


While titles such as Silver Palate are already popular with household chefs and wannabe’s, Mr. Michaelson said FreshDirect is not getting into the business of selling cookbooks.


“We are selling cookbooks to help our customers be successful with the recipes,” he said. “We will only sell a few different titles at a time. We do not envision ourselves becoming a major seller of cookbooks. As a matter of fact, the confirming email that goes out on each recipe contains links to Amazon and Barnes & Noble for the customer to buy the appropriate cookbook online from those retailers.” 

Discussion Questions: How do you think the One-Click Recipes service will affect how current and potential customers
perceive FreshDirect? What do you see as the biggest benefit of the service for FreshDirect and/or its customers?

FreshDirect serves over 250,000 customers in Manhattan and locations in the outer boroughs as well as parts of New Jersey, Westchester, and Nassau County.

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10 Comments on "Clicking and Cooking at FreshDirect"


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David Zahn
Guest
14 years 7 months ago

My first blush impression is that it will be viewed positively by customers. It distinguishes itself as a “service” and not just a supplier, increases the convenience element for the time impoverished (and possibly recipe remedial), and reinforces the image as a “place to interact.”

Having said that, I am assuming it will have greater use for entertaining and holidays than for day in/day out cooking. My reasoning is that in the daily workday week cooking, less thought is given to elaborate planning of meals and collection of appropriate core ingredients. For weekend or special occasions – that might change. Is it a generalization…sure…but that is what I am inclined to see as the likely future of this service’s utility.

Mark Lilien
Guest
14 years 7 months ago

Fresh Direct’s One-Click Recipe’s most valuable payoff: positive public relations and free publicity. The least likely payoff: significant sales increases from repeated recipe usage. Fewer and fewer people in FreshDirect’s market actually prepare a meal from scratch, particularly in Manhattan with its massive restaurant assortment, tiny kitchens, and high-income population. Nonetheless, if the One-Click program cost to FreshDirect is modest, it’s likely to be worthwhile to them. Any innovation that reflects positively upon a retailer is worth trying if the cost is reasonable. Retail customers are starved for signs of anything new.

Bill Bishop
Guest
Bill Bishop
14 years 7 months ago

One-Click is another example of Steve Michaelson’s unique ability to bring real innovation to the marketing and distribution of food. I love it!

It’s hard to see how One-Click will not make Fresh Direct an even more essential part of the lives of their shoppers. This gets to the core of connecting with your customers, and this service should generate a significant up-tick in referrals/new business.

The lesson here is that it’s about a lot more than the product.

Rick Moss
Guest
14 years 7 months ago

While I can see why Mr. Michaelson wants to avoid getting distracted with cookbook sales, it seems like there’s a great opportunity to do joint marketing with celebrity chefs. If they could get a Bobby Flay or Emeril to write some recipes, it could add excitement. Better yet, imagine seeing a meal prepared on the Food Network by Rachel Ray and an offer to go to FreshDirect for one-click ordering. Seems like a natural.

Karin Miller
Guest
Karin Miller
14 years 7 months ago

I visited the site and I love it. The recipe feature is a well-designed tool that will certainly build both goodwill with the customer and incremental sales for Fresh Direct. Smart use of the web!

Bernice Hurst
Guest
14 years 7 months ago
This is excellent and presumably at little extra cost to FreshDirect but potentially positive response from customers even if they don’t use it frequently. Knowing how many people watch cookery programs and browse through cookery books but then get overloaded with information so they can’t decide and then even more confused by making shopping lists, this sounds like the sort of short cut convenience that could actually get them cooking. I’m particularly impressed by the features that tell you to check the cupboard to see if you have an ingredient in it and remind you that you’ve already bought something for a different recipe. Having a different way to use that ingredient again (how often would you use fish sauce once you have a bottle of it?) is likely to get you buying more things to go with it for another meal. I like the kosher/organic options as well. Actually, I like all of it. I like FreshDirect and am really happy to see them succeeding. If I lived in their delivery area I would… Read more »
James Tenser
Guest
14 years 7 months ago

This is a creative play to the inherent strengths of online retailing. There’s a little bit of pantry management (as when the system informs a shopper she already has an ingredient on hand) as well as a strong convenience factor (for those moments when the customer really wants to save a few steps on a home-cooked meal.

Next, I wonder if FreshDirect will try delivering prepared ingredients for quick home cooking based on published recipes. There are a handful of shops around the country that let customers purchase pre-chopped veggies and meats, condiments in single recipe quantities and carry them home to prepare fresh. It’s not too huge a step for FreshDirect to link that service to specific recipes.

Worth repeating here – will these type services capture 100% of a customer’s consumption? Of course not. But they provide a service enhancement for a group of price insensitive shoppers who from time to time may value convenience and quality above all else.

Odonna Mathews
Guest
Odonna Mathews
14 years 7 months ago

Offering recipes and ingredients all together in a meal solution for customers is surely innovative. In looking at some of the offerings, some recipes contain a lot of ingredients and are definitely not a quick an easy meal to make. Adding preparation time would be a helpful addition for today’s busy consumers. I would also suggest adding nutrition information to the site as that is important as well.

Overall I like their presentation and numerous choices of categories for recipes from grilling to ethnic to special diet to meal ingredient and much more.

It seems that others could pick up on this idea as well.

Matt Werhner
Guest
Matt Werhner
14 years 7 months ago

FreshDirect is making great use of the web. I really like the innovation here, but I am still waiting for large scale grocery retailers to put this type of innovation to work in their brick stores.

I’ve seen grocery stores offering recipes on flyers and other similar gimmicks, but this just isn’t connecting the dots for consumers. One suggestion would be to try merchandising a small section of a store with all the ingredients necessary to make a few different meals. This is easy to locate and convenient for the consumer. Make this part of a plan-o-gram and change it out monthly or weekly. FreshDirect seems to think this will work in cyberspace.

Dan Raftery
Guest
14 years 7 months ago

I agree that this is a great service for the FreshDirect customers and point out two permutations. First, anyone with Internet access can pull down these recipes and ingredient lists (e.g., the grilled salmon with basil cream). The cooking-for-entertainment crowd already uses several sites for interesting recipes, so FD should see some of them becoming customers as they find this new option. Second, the time-constrained-meal-provider crowd will love the safety net it provides under missing ingredients. The knock on the neighbor’s door for a cup of milk should be heard less often in FD serviced neighborhoods.

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