Could personalised shopping carts put traditional retailers back in the driving seat?

Swedish app Northfork is eyeing the UK market after successful launches throughout the US and the Nordics.

15 October 2019
image credit: Getty Images

Recipe-shopping app Northfork has turned its attention to the UK market after experiencing what the Swedish-start up has called “unprecedented” success in the Nordics and a promising US roll-out.

The platform, which fuses retailer websites with recipes to produce personalised shopping carts, already delivers its technology to the likes of Buzzfeed and Walmart’s Shoppable Recipes feature within its Tasty app.

Its now set its sights on a “challenging” UK space.

“We’ve completely exceeded our own expectations in the US,” ​Erik Wallin, Northfork co-founder, tells Food Spark. “We have barely scratched the surface in European markets, but if we can make it in the UK, it will demonstrate how appealing and important recipe shopping is to consumers.”

Wallin’s vision is not simply to grow Northfork as a brand; he believes it can help traditional retailers fight – and win – against modern disruptors such as delivery box services.

“Personalisation is huge in many industries, and the food industry will be no different,” says Wallin. “Delivery box services are stepping stones towards a more convenient platform.”

He points to price points as the primary issue for delivery boxes, and believes that it will remain a sticking point for their development in years to come.

“With personalised recipe shopping, you get the convenience of knowing precisely what you need, while maintaining a low price point, if you wish,” adds Wallin. “You get the digital experience and the guidance that comes with it, but you get to choose the price point, and you get to combine your favourite brands. It’s the best of both worlds.”

Boosting brands

Consumers aren’t the only ones benefiting from Northfork’s approach. While the app provides a platform for the recipes to be demonstrated, the individual retailer is in charge of which recipes are made available, meaning they can tailor them to promote specific brands.

“We work very closely with our retailers, and this means we can help them priorities the brands they prefer,” Wallin says. “For example, if one retailer has a particularly good relationship with one brand, it is able to ensure its recipes will suggest that brand’s product – a specific sauce or a specific pasta, for example.”

He is, however, quick to note that the shopper can still actively change each individual ingredient to find the cheapest options.

This is similarly applicable to free-from recipes on the Northfork platform.

“There are two levels for dietary requirements,” explains Wallin. “You could look for free-from recipes specifically, firstly, but it’s not as limited as that. If you like the look of a meal but are unable to eat it, you can also swap out individual ingredients to make something vegan, or nut-free, for example.”

The technology also scales recipes to any portion and optimises product combinations for minimal waste and organic options, as well as recommending products based on an analysis of historic purchases.

Item not in stock

One potential drawback is that, in the Nordics, some consumers have been unable to complete their recipes due to specific ingredients being unavailable in the retailer at any given time.

Wallin and the team are keen to tackle this issue and have already addressed it in certain retailers. “We’ve begun integrating stock into the service, where possible,” he says. “One retailer may have a few thousand recipes, so we’ll filter out those containing recipes that don’t have the full list of ingredients in stock.”
Teething problems aside, Wallin believes the UK market could deliver an exciting new chapter for personalised grocery shopping.

"Consumers are focusing so much on getting a helping hand and striving to get more convenience. If you do that in a truly helpful way, [the retailer] will win,” he says. “And I believe online grocery shopping is enhancing the shopping experience… we know what you want to have for breakfast; we know what food preferences you have, if you have food allergens or follow a particular diet.”

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