- Southern California specialty grocer Erewhon Market has launched a new mobile app that allows customers to place orders for pickup or delivery without needing to access the retailer’s website, according to Chief Growth Officer Kabir Jain.
- Erewhon developed the app in-house using technology provided by Homesome, an e-commerce startup focused on independent food retailers.
- The new app has provided a double-digital boost to Erewhon’s digital sales since its introduction to shoppers on July 31, Jain told Grocery Dive.
Erewhon concluded that it had an especially compelling need to provide shoppers with a seamless way to place orders because nearly half of the company’s business is built on providing prepared foods and beverages to online customers, Jain said in an interview.
“In many respects we are equal parts restaurant [and] grocery store. And so that was a huge impetus for us to build the solution,” said Jain. “There’s a very clear need to have a really crisp digital experience because that’s what we’re competing with: Postmates, DoorDash and Uber Eats — the best-in-class providers.”
Jain added that Erewhon’s shoppers show a clear preference for e-commerce tools that make it easy for them to select items and place orders.
“At the end of the day, a customer may not know what ‘digitally native’ means … but it’s reflected in the way they shop, the amount they transact, how easy it is for them to fill their baskets, how happy they are as a customer, how often they’re likely to come back,” Jain said. “We’re building longer customer value for everyone that’s in our ecosystem now.”
Erewhon began working on the new app last fall when it became the first grocer to sign on to use a suite of tools Homesome developed to allow retailers to customize e-commerce systems that reflect the nuances of their businesses.
Homesome opted to make the package, known as Homesome Enterprise Edition, available because it found that while some of the grocers it works with are satisfied with an out-of-the-box e-commerce platform, others want to imprint their own personalities on the digital image they present to shoppers, said Rahul Chabukswar, the startup’s founder and CEO.
Jain said Erewhon — which had already been sourcing e-commerce technology from Homesome when it opted to become the launch customer for the tech company’s new offering — wanted to lead the development of its new app without getting involved in the mechanics of the platform. Erewhon currently operates nine stores in the Los Angeles area and is preparing to open a 10th location in Pasadena, California.
“I’m a firm believer that we should be focused on the customer experience and the customer journey unless we have something drastically radically different or additive to the back-end picking experience, which we don’t,” said Jain.
Apart from unveiling the new app, Erewhon on Monday started shipping perishable products to shoppers located outside its service area in Southern California, Jain said. The retailer, which has long offered shelf-stable products to customers via delivery services like UPS, has been testing custom packaging that could accommodate its products while also meeting requirements related to cost and durability and is now ready to receive feedback from shoppers, he said.
“We’re not marketing it [but] if someone’s browsing the system they can see and purchase products that are perishable, but we want it to happen organically, so our logistics team can have enough reps to ship stuff out.”