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Exclusive Q&A: eMeals disrupts meal kit model


eMeals takes an alternate, technology-based approach to the meal kit retail model.

Chain Store Age recently spoke with Forrest Collier, CEO of Birmingham, Alabama-based eMeals, to explain how his company focuses on creating a customer-centric shopping experience. This includes basing its meal kit model on curated digital shopping lists, rather than shipping preselected and portioned ingredients.

How does eMeals work?

“Customers choose the kind of food they prefer from our 15 weekly food style plans, such as Quick & Healthy, Keto, Clean Eating, Low Carb, and Kid-Friendly.  Then each week, customers receive seven meal ideas curated by our food experts and sent through our smartphone app. The recipes offer variety and flexibility allowing customers to pick the meals that fit their schedule each week.

“Once a week’s meals are chosen, eMeals automatically populates weekly shopping lists with the necessary ingredients based on grocery store package sizes. Subscribers can delete ingredients that are already in their pantry or add items such as cereal or laundry detergent to their shopping list, a feature that eliminates extra shopping trips.

“The shopping list can be shopped by the user in-store or can be sent in one click to AmazonFresh, Walmart, Kroger, Instacart, or Shipt for fast grocery pickup or home delivery.”

What technologies have you invested in to ensure customer satisfaction?

“Given the eMeals app experience and features, our customer success team spends a lot of time listening to our subscribers, and then passing that feedback along to our product development team, who is constantly improving the app’s features and user experience.

“Most recently, we enabled a new ‘web-shoppable’ feature creating the ability for consumers to shop for a recipe’s ingredients directly from web-based recipe pages. In other words anyone, whether an eMeals subscriber or not, can now shop our recipes without having our app installed. Visitors to these pages include traffic from a CPG partner’s promotion or from those people who have clicked on links that our customers have shared on social sites or sent to friends via text message or email.

“From the recipe page, a user clicks the ‘Get Ingredients’ button, then is asked for their email address and ZIP code. From there, the user is shown the delivery and pickup options available in their area. This feature is a new tool that can be used by our grocery, media, and food brand partners. It’s clear that the future of online grocery includes shoppable recipes and we’re positioned right out in front.”

What are the advantages of “shoppable recipes” vs. traditional meal kits?

“Traditional meal kits have solved some of the hurdles that consumers face in getting dinner on the table – primarily providing a high level of convenience for busy families. But the convenience of meal kits and their packaged ingredients comes with limited variety, inflexible scheduling and high food costs. Through its weekly flow of shoppable recipes, eMeals provides a similar level of convenience but at half the cost per serving with infinitely more variety.

“eMeals also enables customers to get their groceries from their retailer of choice and either shop themselves, or have the ingredients passed through for pickup or delivery.”

How have you recruited major retailers to serve as partners?

“Basically, eMeals is a tool that consumers love using to save them time, money and the stress of getting dinner on the table. At the same time, we are increasing the cart sizes and order frequency for retailers and increasing the ease and adoption of online grocery.

“As more grocery providers work to maintain their in-store and online customers, they are finding competitive advantages by integrating with eMeals to provide recipe inspiration and shoppable content. Grocery providers are then able to provide unmatched variety, flexibility and affordability to consumers with a new and improved ‘virtual meal kit’ model.”   

What are your key learnings from 15 years in business?

“Over the years, eMeals has evolved with our customers and used their feedback as the guidance for ongoing development of our product. Today, the most important drivers for consumers are saving time and reducing the stress of putting dinners on the table. They are also much more focused on eating healthy and pursuing specific eating styles.

“As it relates to our overall business, the option of online grocery pickup and delivery is expanding at a fairly rapid pace. eMeals has strategically evolved to continue meeting the needs of subscribers across the country, as well as maturing our platform to allow deeper relationships with grocers and food brands—so that we’re able to deliver more value to our customers as well as those businesses.”

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