Covid-19: Gousto launches Food Finder app to help local businesses

Gousto has launched a Food Finder app to connect shoppers with small local businesses which are offering food deliveries during lockdown.

Currently covering businesses in Surrey, Kent and London, with plans to expand across the whole of the UK, the solution was built by the Gousto technology team in less than 10 days. The app is free to use and free to register as a business, and shoppers simply type in their postcode to be connected with businesses that will deliver to their home address.

CEO, Timo Boldt, told Essential Retail that the app was developed in record-time in order to help support families and small businesses during the Covid-19 crisis.

Turning a profit

Gousto recently announced the completion of a £33 million funding round, taking total investment to over £130 million in the last eight years. The cash will be used to expand its 100-strong tech team, as well as scale up fulfilment capacity and work towards offering shoppers customisation and next-day delivery. While this most recent round of funding was raised prior to the coronavirus outbreak, Boldt remains positive about the strength of the company going forward.

Indeed, Gousto turned a profit for the first time at the tail end of 2019 and the company remains in a good position to continue profitability in the coming months as shoppers turn to the meal-box delivery company to help them feed their families during lockdown.

“Gousto is still growing rapidly,” he said. “In Q1 2020 we had 70% year-on-year growth. Now we’re profitable, so we’re not really reliant on external funding. We are now extremely well capitalised, so I’m relatively optimistic.”

He pointed to how the escalating coronavirus crisis has seen shoppers accelerate more quickly towards online and convenience. But what about in the coming months or years, when the country is likely to be in recession?

“You have so many more people who are now trying to order online for the first time, and a large proportion of those people will remain customers post this crisis.”

Boldt added: “I feel extremely sad about what is happening during this health crisis, so many people will lose their jobs, no doubt this country will face difficult years over the next couple of years.”

He pointed to the fact that Gousto’s price point is much lower than its competitors at £2.98 per person, per meal, with choice of 50 recipes, including free delivery and the widest option of delivery times on the market.

“I’ve been obsessing over customer value and this is what we want to be famous for," he explained. "I personally don’t think we are at risk during a recession because the price point is so attractive compared to supermarkets and anything out there, that we are relatively insulated.”

Scaling capacity during Covid-19

Gousto, along with all the major grocers, has struggled with the unprecedented demand for online deliveries as the nation is encouraged to stay at home to help protect the NHS.

During its daily peak, the Gousto website is seeing 10X more traffic than normal, and 3X more daily traffic overall compared to a month ago. In addition, customers are now ordering more meals and larger boxes to feed their whole family.

For the time being, Gousto has had to stop taking on any new customers so it can focus on fulfilling loyal, long-term consumers; instead, prospective shoppers are being asked to register their interest to be alerted when they can set up a new account. While Boldt expects this restriction to lift in the coming weeks as the business works on expanding capacity, Gousto is also trying to identify NHS workers and vulnerable people to fast-track their accounts.

But in a short period of time, the company has found ways to try and “feed the nation” – as Boldt puts it. As well as the Food Finder app connecting homes with local food businesses, the company also quickly launched a ‘Chosen by Gousto box’ to help create more capacity in its supply chain. The box is priced at 15% less than a normal box and are recipes are chosen by Gousto chefs and can be altered. It has allowed the company to send out thousands more boxes every week and it is these which are being offered to vulnerable customers and NHS staff while they wait for their subscription to be activated. From coming up with the idea and launching it, it took 14 days, which Boldt says is impressive when you think the company has to abide by rigorous food audits and procedures.

This, and the Food Finder app are innovations that have been quickly rolled out to meet demand in unprecedented times – true examples of business agility under pressure. And now they are live, these new concepts could potentially continue after the coronavirus crisis has ended.

Boldt added: “We’ve always harnessed the power of technology – we’ve always seen Gousto as a data company that loves food. We passionately believe that if you can automate the factory and personalise the choice, then you create so much more value to customers, and as a nice to have you are also building up much better margin with higher inventory turnover. So it’s really what differentiates us, other people are building brands, they’re not building technology business.”