This week I received my copy of "Contagious", a new book about the importance of word of mouth in the digital age, which I bought from Amazon (and will be the subject of a future blog). As expected, the book arrived exactly when I was told it would. What I didn't expect was the accompanying £25 voucher from a company called Hello Fresh, which offers weekly home deliveries of the exact ingredients required to make healthy, tasty recipes. Turning to their website http://www.hellofresh.co.uk/versus_supermarkets/ I found that Hello Fresh claims to offer these meal ingredients for 20% less than the major supermarkets, as a result of having no store overheads and sourcing direct from local suppliers (including a high quality butcher, fishmonger and greengrocer). Furthermore delivery, which generally costs between £1 and £6 at Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury or Ocado, is free at Hello Fresh.
These financial incentives, together with my personal and professional curiosity, were more than enough to prompt me to place my first order for a total of six meals, costing £39 (before application of the £25 voucher). The order is due to arrive in a couple of weeks' time, when I'm back from a business trip, and I'll be posting an update on the experience then. In the meantime, this is worth highlighting as another example of how online is fragmenting the grocery shopping experience and enabling new companies to tap consumer interest in nutritious, tasty and easy-to-prepare meals, and reducing waste, better than many supermarkets.
However, what I find particularly interesting here is the role of Amazon. When I called Hello Fresh to enquire about this, they said Amazon's role is limited to marketing, as part of the Amazon Local service, which sends subscribers daily deals from merchants in their local area. Delivery is handled by Hello Fresh, using couriers. One has to wonder though what benefits Amazon may be getting in terms of understanding the market for fresh food delivery in major UK urban areas such as London, and how the partnership with Hello Fresh and other similar ventures could develop once Amazon launches its Fresh grocery business in the UK. The ability to deliver a wide variety of locally-sourced specialist foods, as Amazon Fresh currently does on the West coast of the US, is one its main points of difference vs standard brick and mortar online grocery offerings, which are still mostly limited to what's available in-store.
Get ready to say Hello to Amazon Fresh...