Revolutionizing Meal Prep and the Grocery Shopping Experience
Envision yourself meal planning. You sort through recipe books, jot down the ingredients, then head to your local grocery store to search, aisle by aisle, for the products to finally make dinner. Or you try the equally frustrating task of ordering dinner online. Louise Pritchard, a 1978 Harbert College marketing graduate, along with co-founder Katie Hotze, had a better idea: Why not let a simple online bot do the work?
“Go to your grocer’s website and click on the floating bot that says ‘Plan your meals in five minutes or less,’” she said. “You are immediately directed to a meal planning source of popular recipes and/or recipes that met your personal profile. When you click ‘check out,’ you are seamlessly taken to the grocer’s checkout area.”
The meal is planned and the ingredients are purchased. It’s all at your fingertips. Grocery Shopii, an e-commerce platform soon coming to stores near you, was co-founded in 2019 by Pritchard, who recognized the need for faster meal planning and purchasing. Things changed in 2020.
“Before COVID, online sales of groceries were pretty anemic,” said Pritchard, an Atlanta native who has spent the past 20 years in Williamsburg, Va. “It was no longer about firing up sales, which was our tagline. It became grocery shopping re-imagined because stores now had more online business than they could handle. Our play to stores was ‘You’ve got all of these people.
How are you going to retain them? How are you differentiating yourself in the marketplace and keep people from jumping from one e-commerce platform to another?’”
Pritchard, also the company’s chief marketing officer, said her business’ key differentiators are 1) personalizing the customer experience, 2) expediting the experience, and 3) inspiring shoppers with fresh recipes daily. “For us, we’re talking about retaining grocery stores’ customers, building loyalty and giving them something that would keep them from jumping. That’s how we are changing the narrative,” she said.
Taking a chance on a startup, whether it’s a software company or health club, takes patience, guts and determination, Pritchard said. “You are going to get told ‘no’ a lot. Persevering, staying focused on what you want to be and what you’re good at—you’ve got to stay the course. We tested, learned, and tested some more. We’ve conducted customer discovery at every corner. You’ve had setbacks, and you’ve days when you were floating on air with excitement. You must persevere and adapt in the startup space, and that is where we excel.
“Being the owner of a startup can be like drinking out of a fire hose sometimes. You’ve got to think strategically and with thick skin. There are so many unknowns and there’s a lot pulling on you. In one single day, you are handling so many different things. But it’s energizing at the same time.”