With Thanksgiving less than a week away, Americans will officially begin competing in the holiday season’s worst sport: the relay race to and from the grocery store.
Starting on Wednesday, and lasting for approximately 50 days, consumers will find that no matter how many times they go to the store, no matter how carefully they study their grocery list, no matter how prepared they are for gatherings at their houses – when it comes time to start cooking, there’s always that one ingredient (or five) that will have been overlooked.
Not everyone runs the race. Some people give up, deciding not to make whatever it is, or to substitute baking powder for baking soda and let the chips fall where they may, so to speak.
But the truly committed either begin their own odyssey of trips to and from the store to snag the forgotten items – or they begin directing their spouses or partners to do so. Statistically, more than half of all marriages in the United States begin as holiday season engagements . And while there are no official statistics, we wouldn’t be surprised to learn that more than a small fraction of all American divorces also begin during the holiday season, provoked by those repeated trips to and from the store to get that one critical ingredient.
Starting this week, life for home cooks, their recipes, the people who eat those meals and those who are tasked with going to the store to get the missing ingredients could get a whole lot happier. Amazon and Allrecipes have joined forces to make it possible for those missing ingredients to be one tap away. An integration between Amazon Fresh and Allrecipes makes it possible for an order to be placed directly from the recipe, paid for using an Amazon account and delivered within an hour to the customer's front door.
“We’re building a world where you no longer have to yell at your husband to go to the store when you realize you don’t have cream of tartar,” Corbin de Rubertis, VP and GM at Meredith Shopper Marketing (Allrecipes’ parent firm) joked with Karen Webster in a recent conversation. “And via an integration with Alexa, someday you won’t even need him to do it at all!”
But beyond a world with greater domestic bliss, de Rubertis noted the partnership also allows both Allrecipes and Amazon to align themselves contextually with the consumer's on-demand commerce needs, particularly in the grocery category – something that de Rubertis said is “on the verge of exploding in the “U.S.”
A Trusted Partner
“Grocery delivery is really a question of supply, not demand,” de Rubertis told Webster, noting that people with increasingly complicated lives that are spread “all over the place” really don’t need the merits of not going to a grocery store sold to them all that hard.
But, he noted, there is a trust issue in place, as the service level and selection have not quite been what consumers are seeking. Instacart is integrated with Allrecipes, but some consumers aren’t quite comfortable with a third-party player picking their food. Consumers in the U.S. and Europe (where food delivery via popular grocery chains has been common for over a decade) tend to have a preference for services like AmazonFresh or direct delivery from the retailer.
In addition, de Rubertis said the ability to manage and deliver that supply is getting better. Instead of having to order bulk quantities of food, as was often the case in the early online grocery delivery model, “right-sized” orders are now de rigueur. Customers can now buy a bottle of vanilla extract instead of a vat of it, as well as packaged meats that look and taste fresh.
“Today, almost a quarter of people have ordered groceries online,” de Rubertis said, adding that a big chunk of those orders have been in non-perishables. He is convinced that consumers are ready to make the big leap into fresh.
It’s a leap that he believes Amazon is uniquely qualified to guide people through. They’re trusted, de Rubertis said, because they have delivered in other aspects of their online and on-demand commerce journey, making it easy to shop and pay for the things that consumers want to buy, and delivering in a relevant timeframe.
The Changing World Of Food
De Rubertis noted that the way people eat at home has changed, a function of today's time-starved, fast-paced nature of life. When modern consumers eat at home, they’re often eating prepared foods.
Consumers aren’t planning a week’s worth of meals out on the weekend or Thanksgiving dinner weeks ahead, he observed. Rather, de Rubertis said, these are decisions that are being made not quite in real time, but not that far from the time that they’d like to eat, because people and their families are always moving.
De Rubertis said that he and his team can gauge the behavior of people using the app. Customers are looking for dinner recipes that afternoon, and are then using the app in a grocery store a few hours later as they are walking through the aisles to assemble the ingredients.
Since consumers already actively use the app as a shopping tool, the ability to do so from their comfort of their kitchens brings commerce to the kitchen table courtesy of a home-cooked meal.
“As more and more people convert to the eCommerce side of grocery, we have to be ready to support the next step: enabling the spontaneity of a decision to cook and eat at home,” de Rubertis said.
“Whether you are in the store buying immediately ahead, or in the app doing meal planning, I think the goal has been to provide a service that can work for any customer – or the same customer at a variety of points. I think this partnership with Amazon really completes our offering.”
And helps to complete a data offering for Amazon, as well. The partnership with Allrecipes gives Amazon some insights into consumer behavior: what’s eaten, when, by whom, with what ingredients and even with what brand of ingredient. By looking at what people are actually cooking and what ingredients they actually need, Amazon can better tailor its inventory to match a demand picture that’s more granularly understood.
“We are a huge source [of data] because we are national and serve every ethnic group,” said de Rubertis.
So, this Thanksgiving, between praising the bird, the cooking and the togetherness, consider that depending on where you’re eating and how those groceries were obtained, you might just also owe Allrecipes and Amazon a bit of a thank-you for all three.