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EPISODE 55

Why Being Customer-Driven Is the Secret Ingredient in Daily Harvest’s Recipe For Success

With Rachel Drori, Founder and CEO of Daily Harvest

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Rachel Drori has come a long way from the days of filling a shopping cart at Trader Joe’s and packing up healthy, frozen meals for delivery to customers all around New York — all while being nine-months pregnant. As the Founder and CEO of Daily Harvest, Rachel bootstrapped her company from the very beginning, and eventually had a few big names reach out to invest, including folks like Serena Williams and Gwyneth Paltrow. In 2019, Daily Harvest generated more than $125M in revenue and the company is growing. So what makes her meal-delivery service different from the others? The heavy focus on customer-centricity.

When Rachel founded Daily Harvest, her goal was to build a customer-driven company that connected people with food that was designed specifically for them. But what did that look like from a practical standpoint and what can others learn from Rachel’s journey? On this episode of Up Next in Commerce, we’ll give you the answers to just that, so stay tuned!

Main Takeaways:

  • Call and Response: Customers are less interested in having a place to share their thoughts than they are in having their feedback responded to by the brand they are interacting with. In every channel, there should be a way to engage in two-way conversations with your customers and then a method to follow through on those customers’ needs in a way that everyone can see. 
  • Nimble and Agile: In marketing and customer acquisition, it’s a mistake to be reliant on any one channel. Having the ability to understand and follow the trends, and then meet potential customers where they are at the moment they are online will allow you to actually bring in new customers reliably.
  • High On Your Own Supply: Having control of your supply chain is one of the best ways to create agility within your organization. But sometimes it takes some technology investment to bring all your suppliers on board.

For an in-depth look at this episode, check out the full transcript below. Quotes have been edited for clarity and length.

Key Quotes:

“Part of our magic is really connecting people with food that was designed specifically for them so that you’re really always stocked with a whole food kitchen of clean food when you want it and it’s ready in minutes.”

“Food is not customer-driven. The way food is created is actually really far from that. And the reason food is not customer-driven is actually a true systemic problem. So as I set out to start Daily Harvest, part of what I wanted to do was really solve some of the systemic challenges with food. Not only the convenience and the health factor, but also why do we have to choose between preserving ourselves and preserving the planet all of the time with packaging and sustainability and regenerative farming practices and all the stuff that makes our food systems so broken.”

“We always started with the goal of, how are we not beholden to any one channel? Because I think that that’s just asking for trouble. And we built it in a really nimble and agile way so that as trends and algorithms and all sorts of things change, we can then be nimble as a result. And we’re lucky that we have a high amount of our customers come in through word of mouth, but we’ve also done a lot of things to make that easier, to remove the friction of people sharing when they have a positive Daily Harvest experience.” 

“We obviously have a mission. So we’re looking for customers with whom our mission resonates. And there’s a lot of different ways where when you remove your marketing hat and you’re like, ‘How would a normal human say this?’ Or, ‘What is the way of saying something that gets somebody to stop their scroll or perk their ears while listening to something that they might otherwise fast forward past?’ And then it’s the same thing on the visual side, really focusing on photography and imagery that’s visually arresting and beautiful.”

“It’s not so much about giving the customers places to share their thoughts and feelings, it’s more about showing that you respond to them. So one of the things that we did really early on is we built a quite agile supply chain. And the goal of that was really to be able to respond to customer needs. We wanted to create a customer-driven company. We had to be able to respond to customer needs. And it’s one thing to have these amazing insights and to be innovative. And a lot of companies have the ability to do that. But if you can’t respond in a timely manner, does it really matter?”

“Any channel that you can think of, we’ve built a way to interact. So whether it is through our app, whether it is through text message, whether it is through social media, you name it, we’ve made the conversation two ways.”

“One thing that’s interesting about Daily Harvest is on the outside, we kind of look like a subscription, but we’re actually not a subscription. We’re really what we call a replenishment business because once you sign up for Daily Harvest, our goal is to make sure that your freezer is always stocked. And it’s not because that’s good for us, it’s because that’s how we make sure that you have the food that you want when you want it. At that moment when you’re hangry, when you’re reaching for that bar, you need to have the right food in your freezer.” 

“Removing friction for our customers and making things as easy as possible for them, making their account as easy as possible to manage, making sure that they’re getting the food that they want when they want it. And we found that there’s a direct correlation between removing that friction, being customer-driven. We don’t even think about retention. We think about how can we be more customer-driven? How can we get our customers exactly what they want? And what we found is that those things correlate really nicely.” 

“We’ve seen this huge adoption of ecommerce and people’s willingness to stick around once they’ve tried it. So as you had early adopters previously who were signing up for food delivery or whatever it may be delivered to their home, what we’re seeing now is people who are not early adopters, so more of the mainstream signing up. And there are different needs, and there’s a different level of education, and there’s all sorts of nuance to take into account with that trend. So we’re thinking a lot about that, how we continue to remove friction for this different type of customer”

Mentions:

 

Bio:

“Rachel Drori is the founder and CEO of Daily Harvest, a platform is serving the needs of modern consumers by turning freezers into personalized pantries stocked with clean food, quickly prepared and replenished as it is consumed.

Daily Harvest was launched as a solution to Rachel’s own daily challenge: squeezing in nourishing fruits and vegetables into her busy life. She has built Daily Harvest into one of the fastest-growing consumer brands in the U.S.

Prior to starting Daily Harvest, Rachel harnessed her skills as a customer-centric marketing executive, leading teams at Gilt Groupe, American Express, and Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts. Rachel holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Pennsylvania and an MBA from Columbia Business School. She currently resides in New York City with her family.”

Up Next in Commerce is brought to you by Salesforce Commerce Cloud. Respond quickly to changing customer needs with flexible Ecommerce connected to marketing, sales, and service. Deliver intelligent commerce experiences your customers can trust, across every channel. Together, we’re ready for what’s next in commerce. Learn more at salesforce.com/commerce

Transcript:

Stephanie:

Welcome back to Up Next in Commerce. This is Stephanie Postles, your host and co-founder of mission.org. Today on the show, we have Rachel Drori, the founder and CEO of Daily Harvest. Rachel, welcome, welcome.

Rachel:

Hi, thanks for having me.

Stephanie:

Thanks for coming on. So yesterday in the mail, I got an amazing box of Daily Harvest. And it was the perfect way for me to understand exactly what it was and enjoyed this morning. But to kick it off, maybe I’ll let you explain what Daily Harvest is.

Rachel:

First of all, I need to know what you tried first, and then….

Stephanie:

I tried a smoothie, and today I’m going to be trying one of the soups in there. I think there was a lentil soup that you just add water to. I’m like, “This is what I need in my life, something that you just add water to or just add coconut water to make a smoothie and it’s done.”

Rachel:

I love it. Yes. So I started Daily Harvest about five years ago. And the mission is simple. It’s really to take care of food so that food can take care of all of us. And we do this by starting at the root with our farmers. And we grow the best fruits and vegetables in the best way possible. And then we make incredible food, which I’m glad you got to try. [inaudible] smoothies and flatbreads, ice cream, alongside with people who eat it, our customers. And the idea is that you can then stock your home with convenient, but also clean and delicious food that’s built on real fruits and vegetables. And part of our magic is really connecting people with food that was designed specifically for them so that you’re really always stocked with a whole food kitchen of clean food when you want it and it’s ready in minutes.

Stephanie:

I love that. I think on my Twitter, I posted a picture of my freezer and what it looks like. And it was kind of sad because there was like waffles next to one of them. I’m like, “What?” This is my life. I have waffles and then now a new experience that I don’t think I’ll be able to step away from after this.

Rachel:

Well, that’s what I like to hear. But it’s interesting, people buying additional freezers in the last few months. And I’m like, “I support this message. I support this very much.”

Stephanie:

That is awesome. So tell me a little bit about the early days of when you were starting it. I mean, I’m thinking about all the different logistics and the supply chain and working with farmers. And I want to kind of hear how it all got started.

Rachel:

So as I started pulling on the strings really trying to figure out why the food that I wanted didn’t exist, what I realized is that it was because food is not customer driven. The way food is created is actually really far from that. And the reason food is not customer driven is actually a true systemic problem. So as I set out to start Daily Harvest, part of what I wanted to do was really solve some of the systemic challenges with food. Not only the convenience and the health factor, but also why do we have to choose between preserving ourselves and preserving the planet all of the time with packaging and sustainability and regenerative farming practices and all the stuff that makes our food systems so broken? So back in those early days, I had these really grand ambitions, still have the grand ambitions, but less power to actually make them happen in those days. And what I did was I faked it all until I was actually able to do them.

Rachel:

So I was buying our ingredients at Trader Joe’s. I wasn’t telling stories of things that were going to happen in future but buying ingredients at Trader Joe’s, got a commercial kitchen in Long Island City. And my right hand and my left hand were my first team members, bagging all those ingredients up into food that I knew solved all of the customer problems that I had surfaced to myself but also in friends and family, and started delivering across New York City and really trying to see if I was solving problems for people other than myself. And it turned out I was. And I’d quit my job and dove in head first.

Stephanie:

That is amazing. So were you personally delivering a lot of this items in the beginning?

Rachel:

I was delivering everything.

Stephanie:

Oh gosh. Any crazy stories of the delivery days?

Rachel:

Yeah. So I was nine months pregnant towards the end of the bootstrap MVP period. And I could no longer get behind the wheel of my car. But I had a 16-year-old nephew who could drive with an adult.

Stephanie:

Oh my gosh, getting his permit hours with you?

Rachel:

Yes, yes. It was ridiculous. So I would pick him up. I would pay him like $15 an hour to drive around and hop in and out. And I would sit in the car like a beached whale. And he would run these boxes up to people’s apartments. And I would be like, “Nope, can’t give us a ticket. I’m in here.”

Stephanie:

And I’m pregnant. So even more of a reason. Don’t try. That’s awesome. So then around that time, it looks like you were also… Was that when you were also raising money?

Rachel:

So I did raise money… well, so I’d raised a few rounds at this point. I actually tried to raise money for a Series C at that phase and it didn’t go very well to be honest. People didn’t really understand how I had this grandiose vision and I was delivering smoothies. They just couldn’t connect the dots. And I guess it was too much of a leap for people. So I decided to bootstrap for as long as I possibly could. And when I say bootstrap, I think people assume you have money to burn. When I say scrappy, literally doing things like having my nephew deliver the food, and I created the website entirely by myself and the packaging and printed everything. There was no money spent to be clear.

Rachel:

And raised money officially right after I had my first child and decided I needed… I was kind of choking off growth and needed to take it from the MVP stage to something much bigger. And we launched nationally in 2016, which was almost like a year after that period, and then raised our Series A actually when I was pregnant with my second child, which was super fun.

Stephanie:

What kind of experience did you have being pregnant and raising money or trying to raise money? What happened during that? Because I know I have some personal experiences that maybe weren’t always the most positive of people just being like, “How do you plan on running a business and you’re pregnant?” Even now, knowing I have three kids, people saying, “How do you plan on running a business with three kids?” And what kind of stories do you have around that? Hopefully, I’ll get one. So I’m interested to hear.

Rachel:

Yeah. I mean, the positive and the negative. The positive was that I had no time to worry about being pregnant. I was just like, “Oh, yeah, this is just happening and I’m going to keep moving.” And I think a lot of people in that moment of life and in that phase kind of stew in the moment. And it was great. Nine months later or 10 months later, a baby popped out and I was like, “Moving on.” And the negative is it’s funny exactly as you just phrased it. The question that came up not actually as frequently as I thought it might, but once or twice, I definitely got the question, how do you plan to be a good mother and run a business? And I’m like, “Interesting question that I’m not going to justify with an answer. But if what you’re trying to ask is if I’m 100% committed to making Daily Harvest successful, the answer is yes.”

Stephanie:

Yep. That’s great. That’s a good way to do it like, “I’m not even going to answer that.”

Rachel:

What a ridiculous question?

Stephanie:

Yeah. I always say like I could never imagine someone asking like, “Oh, man, how do you plan on still working if your kids are on the way?” I can do that.

Rachel:

Totally.

Stephanie:

So I saw you have some really impressive names as investors like Serena Williams, Gwyneth Paltrow. Tell me a little bit about how you got these investors on board.

Rachel:

Yes. So each one is kind of its own story, but Serena is my favorite because I got a random email from Alexis Ohanian who’s now her husband, at the time was Serena’s boyfriend. And he was like, “My girlfriend and I eat Daily Harvest every day. We would love to talk to you.” I had no idea who his girlfriend was. And the next thing I knew, I was on the phone with Serena Williams like, “Wait, what?”

Stephanie:

Oh my gosh. That is actually insane. I mean, I wouldn’t have known that either because I don’t really know names and stuff like that. So how did the conversation go?

Rachel:

I had no idea. I mean, it was amazing. She’s so cool and was incredibly down to earth. And she was just saying how Daily Harvest really helped her eat the way that she wanted to eat, the way that she needed to eat in a pinch. And she loved the idea. And this was super early on. And I was like, “First of all, how do you even know about us? But amazing.” And she asked if she could invest. And I was like, “Let me think about this for a second. Yes, absolutely.”

Stephanie:

Oh, that’s great.

Stephanie:

So after you landed Serena, did other investors come along when you could kind of point to like, “I’ve got Serena Williams. You win her out.” How did the other ones go?

Rachel:

I mean, it’s funny. We weren’t really public with it until much later. So we had other investors reach out to us with interest, but it had nothing to do with Serena. It really was people finding us in pretty organic ways. And people just getting excited about the idea and the concept and seeing the problem that I stated earlier in their own life and seeing that we don’t have to compromise, we can have it all, at least with our food. So each story, as I said, is pretty unique. But they really all were people who found us, which was pretty remarkable.

Stephanie:

Yeah, that’s great. I mean, that’s a testament to the product. Very, very cool. So when thinking about new customers finding you in organic or non-organic ways, how are you getting in front of people right now? And I’m asking this question because I went on your guys’s Pinterest, and I saw you have like 4 million views a month. And I was like, “What? How are they getting 4 million views on Pinterest?” So I want to hear a little bit about your customer acquisition and how you’re getting in front of people.

Rachel:

Yes. So we have a really robust marketing mix. My background is marketing. So we always started with the goal of, how are we not beholden to any one channel? Right? Because I think that that’s just asking for trouble. And we built it in a really nimble and agile way so that as trends and algorithms and all sorts of things change, that we can then be nimble as a result. And we’re lucky that we have a really high amount of our customers come in through word of mouth. But we’ve also done a lot of things to make that easier, to remove the friction of people sharing when they have a positive Daily Harvest experience.

Rachel:

But there are other things that I think have made us stand out on… I mean, literally, you name a marketing channel, we are on it. There’s nothing that’s like secret saucy there. But I really think it comes down to our differentiated messaging and our differentiated photography and really focusing on connecting with universal human truths where people are just like, “Oh, you get me. Yep, I understand. I’m going to learn more.”

Stephanie:

Oh, that’s great. So tell me a little bit about that differentiated messaging that you’re talking about? How do you go about figuring out what you want to message and how do you know what will connect and what won’t? Because what you might think is going to be a universal truth, I might be like, “Oh, that’s not my truth.” How do you guys go about making sure you’re speaking to your customer?

Rachel:

Absolutely. It definitely is trial and error to understand what works, but we obviously have a mission. So we’re looking for customers with whom our mission resonates. And there’s just a lot of different ways where when you remove your marketing hat and you’re like, “How would a normal human say this?” Or, “What is the way of saying something that gets somebody to stop their scroll or perk their ears while listening to something that they might otherwise fast forward past?” And then it’s the same thing on the visual side, really focusing on photography and imagery that’s visually arresting and beautiful. And also stuff that looks delicious. You can’t underestimate the salivation factor of… I don’t know if that’s a real thing.

Stephanie:

I like that. Now it needs to be.

Rachel:

It totally does. How much of a photograph actually makes you salivate? Because that’s tied to how hungry it makes you and how much it makes you want something.

Stephanie:

Yeah. I mean, pictures are everything. Even on your packaging and things like that, I mean, that’s what makes me want to buy something, even when I’m on DoorDash or something, if an item doesn’t have a picture on it, I’m like, “No, I’m not so sure if I want it,” even if it sounds amazing. I want to see what it actually looks like. So it seems like you have very, very smart to have pictures on everything, especially Pinterest.

Rachel:

Yep. And because people have such short attention spans these days, and because there’s so much media being thrown at you constantly, we also really focus on simplicity with it. So not only is it beautiful and drool-worthy, but it’s also simplistic.

Stephanie:

That’s great. So earlier, you mentioned also removing friction of having customers share their stories. How did you go about ensuring that a new customer or existing customer would share their stories and keep doing them?

Rachel:

Yeah. So what we have found is it’s not so much about giving the customers places to share their thoughts and feelings. It’s more about showing that you respond to them. So one of the things that we did really early on is we built a quite agile supply chain. And the goal of that was really to be able to respond to customer needs. We wanted to create a customer driven company. We had to be able to respond to customer needs. And it’s one thing to have these amazing insights and to be innovative. And a lot of companies have the ability to do that. But if you can’t respond in a timely manner, does it really matter? I’m not so sure.

Rachel:

So by showing customers, not just telling them, that we are actually listening to them and creating the food that they want to eat with them, and then connecting people with the food that was created for them, it sounds pretty simplistic. But there are really few companies that actually do it. So we’re able to bring something to market in six to eight weeks from the time our customers tell us what they want. And I think that that is why customers love to share with us. And that is why we continue to be able to build these connections with our customers, those relationships.

Stephanie:

That’s such a good point actually to show someone like you’re not just submitting something into a black box and nothing’s ever happening. What does the process look like? Where are they submitting their feedback? And then how do you interact with them in a way that is one on one, but then also shows your entire customer or new customer base, “Here’s what we did for this one customer?” What does that process look like from start to finish?

Rachel:

Yeah. I mean, literally any channel that you can think of, we’ve built a way to interact. So whether it is through our app, whether it is through text message, whether it is through social media, you name it, we’ve made the conversation two ways. And what’s interesting about it is if you think back to the story I told you earlier where kind of faking it till you make it, I’m air quoting, which you obviously can’t see, but you’re faking it but kind of faking it.

Rachel:

In the early days, our way of talking to our customers was every single team member at Daily Harvest would follow the Daily Harvest hashtag and every single day, it was the expectation that they would scroll through. And when somebody wrote something about Daily Harvest, the team engaged. Every single person on the team was asked to engage. So everyone from an engineer who might not under normal circumstances have any interaction with a customer directly to somebody on our culinary team. And it depends on what the customer put out there. But if it was something like your app is X, Y, Z, then an engineer would jump in and say, “Hey, can you tell me more about that?” And really just empowering the team to forge those relationships and to have those conversations I think is really what started it from a team culture perspective.

Rachel:

And then as we’ve grown, we’ve built tools in this way that allow it to happen. [inaudible 00:20:08], obviously, not everybody is scrolling through every single Daily Harvest hashtag these days, but we’ve empowered everybody to really think about how we maintain our vision of being truly customer driven.

Stephanie:

I love that. I mean, that’s such a good experience. It’s so different than, of course, corporate culture where you’re probably told you are not allowed to engage with someone who tweets at us, and it has to be approved by PR. And there’s so many rules and stuff. A lot of us had been taught in the past like, “Just don’t say anything.” And I can imagine how great of a culture you build by saying, “Everyone get on there. Respond to these people. It’s on you to actually keep our customers happy.” That seems like a transformative environment.

Rachel:

Absolutely. And then you have it scaled too. People really are thinking customer first at all times.

Stephanie:

Yeah, that’s really cool. So when it comes to product request, I mean, it seems like there’d be an area that could be like a leaderboard where people can vote on the next products they want and actually determine that. Is there anything like that that you have going on to kind of create more social engagement and also people having an input in the product that maybe they wouldn’t have just tweeted at you and said like, I want to have more figs?” They might not have that idea on their own, but they would like to maybe vote on it?

Rachel:

Totally. Yeah. I mean, we have all sorts of engagement opportunities for customers. But the important thing to know is that none of our skews or collections at Daily Harvest are created to be generally accepted. So we really focus on what people want from the perspective of their taste affinities, which is really differentiated.

Rachel:

So if you think about traditional product cycles and product development tools, people will look at things like demographics, psychographics, household income, credit card swipe data, and all of these things that when you kind of zoom out really never made sense to me because I can tell you, my husband and I live in the same house. We have the same household income. We share credit cards. We have the same credit card swipe data, same education, we met in school. But when it comes down to it, he orders from a very different restaurant than where I order from at night when we order in. So we really try to focus on what taste preferences are. And we try to create food for specific groups of people that have similar taste preferences, so nothing that we create is meant for general consumption. And that’s where it gets really nuanced and really differentiated.

Rachel:

So yes, we will say to people, “We’re thinking about creating X, Y, Z, and we would love your input.” We take that into consideration, but we also take into consideration that, “Who is actually answering that question and where they’re coming from and what their taste preferences are.” Because I might like something that is, let’s say, filled with greens, and you might like something that has no garlic in it or whatever it is because you might be allergic to garlic. And we’re not going to like the same thing. So why should we try to make food for both of us?

Stephanie:

I love that idea of making sure that you actually focus on your customers because I think it’s very easy, especially with all these new B2C companies that are launching right now to get distracted and not remember like, “Who did you actually build this for? What is your customer base? And what are you trying to do in this world?” Instead of being like, “Oh, and this person wants more sugar added to the matcha. Okay, I didn’t really want to add a bunch of sugar to it, but this person wants it.” It’s a good reminder to not get distracted.

Rachel:

Right. But if we do have a group of customers that tell us that they want that same matcha that’s a bit sweeter, we can accommodate that. It’s just we would never target the same food to… We would know who we’re targeting what to.

Stephanie:

Yep, very cool. So I’m very interested in the partnerships that you have with farmers and what your supply chain looks like behind the scenes that you can make these really quick product pivots or new products coming out in like six-day weeks. So can you speak a little about, what did that look like forming those partnerships? And any hiccups that you experienced in the early days of trying to get that worked out?

Rachel:

Yeah. I mean, as I said, it started with Trader Joe’s because every time we reached out to a farm, they were like, “Who are you? Can you guarantee this entire crop?” And I was like, “I don’t know.”

Stephanie:

They were asking you to guarantee whole crops for them?

Rachel:

I mean, sometimes you have to if you want to be in control of how sweet it is, what the nutrition level is, you really have to be. And that was the vision because the way that I always envisioned taking care of food was really at the systemic level. So really to make change, you have to go to that level of scale in your purchasing. And we’re incredibly meticulous about the ingredients that we use and how we source them. We actually have an entire team that’s dedicated to finding the best farms. And we have over 400 farms that we work with directly. So we set incredibly rigorous standards that ensure not only are our partners using regenerative practices in their farming, things like increasing biodiversity, improving the water cycle, using organic farming practices, strengthening the health and vitality of our farm soil, using fair labor practices.

Rachel:

But we also are really particular about when we harvest our food. We want to make sure that the fig or the blueberry that you’re eating is unparalleled not only from a nutrition perspective, but also from a taste perspective. So that means that we have to let every single ingredient reach its full nutritional and flavor potential on the vine or on the tree. And then we freeze everything within 24 hours of it being picked, which is really differentiated. And because of that rigor, our food is actually more nutritious than the stuff that you buy in the grocery store, which is something that a lot of people are surprised to hear. I think a lot of people see frozen as not as nutritious or inferior, when in fact, unless you are picking something straight from the farm and consuming it within three days, that’s just not the case.

Rachel:

And we work with these farmers to also create entirely new supply chains, which is amazing. Our customers told us that they really wanted something with celery root last fall. And we worked with the farmer to create an entire supply chain of frozen celery root that had never existed before. And what’s cool about a frozen supply chain is there’s actually 50% less food waste and there’s just so many benefits to the system overall. But we really think a lot about how we create the most nourishing, best tasting food and it really all comes back to those farm relationships.

Stephanie:

Wow, that’s really cool. Yeah. I mean, I think a lot of people like you said don’t understand the frozen aspect of why it’s better because I know a while back, I heard that about fish too. But it’s better to have frozen fish that’s frozen right away when it’s caught than getting something fresh. Fresh feels like it’s healthier but actually it’s more nutritional if you get the frozen one that was frozen right on the ship or boat or whatever it is.

Rachel:

When you think about the frozen aisle in the grocery store, most people associate it with like dinosaur shaped chicken nuggets.

Stephanie:

Yes, which may or may not be in my freezer right now.

Rachel:

I don’t judge. When you ask most people what’s in their freezer, it’s like ice cream and vodka and ice cubes. I’m like, “These are not bad things, but it just shows you how the food system has evolved.” And the microwave dinner was created not because it was healthy. It was because it was convenient and it was because it was created during this Industrial Revolution when food and science melded together in ways that is just so unnatural and we kind of just stayed there. So I think there’s been a lot of… not I think. There’s been a lot of education for customers to help them understand the benefits of frozen not only for themselves, not only for their taste buds, but also for the food system as a whole.

Stephanie:

Got it, that’s great. So the one thing I’m thinking about too is working with farms, I can see them being on older tech stacks I’ll call them or no tech stacks.

Rachel:

What tech stacks?

Stephanie:

Yeah. I’ll just say non-existent tech stacks maybe unless they’re like the very advanced farm with the drones going on.

Rachel:

No, [crosstalk 00:29:55].

Stephanie:

You’re working with 400 farms. How are you placing these orders and getting things to happen quickly and making sure that it’s up to your standards and that nothing’s going to get backed up? How do you do that with farms that don’t have a tech stack?

Rachel:

I mean, we built the technology for it.

Stephanie:

Tell me a bit about that. What did that process look like?

Rachel:

Yeah. So in the beginning, we only had a few farms, and it was easier to manage. But obviously, once you hit a certain scale, it becomes a little unwieldy and it’s not just 400 farms. There’s four crops a year and different ingredients. One farm might have six ingredients that they’re growing for us. So it can get really complicated. But as I said, we have a large team that really focuses on this, and they’re incredibly passionate. So what we did is we thought about how technology could make their job easier, how we can leverage technology to remove some of the friction in managing the quality of our food and the supply chain in general. And we really built a verification system that… I would say a trust but verify system where we set certain quality standards. Because we can’t [inaudible] people who are on site at every farm with every harvest, and then there’s like a verification system where they’re sending us samples constantly to make sure that that everything is as we say it needs to be. And we’re verifying nutrition after something is frozen to make sure that it’s as it’s supposed to be. And through every step, we are trusting and verifying. And all of that is rigorously notated in our technology stack.

Stephanie:

That’s really cool. So it seems like you’re bringing a lot of farmers online. Have they asked to reuse the technology with other partners too? They could be a whole separate business like, “Here’s technology that you can now have with anyone else ordering from you.”

Rachel:

Totally. I mean, we work with a lot of small farmers. So a lot of farmers don’t have a lot of other business. We’ve really grown to a scale where most of our farmers are Daily Harvest farmers.

Stephanie:

Mm-hmm (affirmative). Oh, cool.

Rachel:

Really cool when you think about it. But yeah. I mean, we’ve definitely had people ask, but we’ve got to focus on our core competencies and what we’re trying to achieve.

Stephanie:

Yep. That’s great. So everyone’s obviously looking into subscription businesses right now. It’s always top of mind like, “Should this business be a subscription or not?” Everyone wants one. How do you think about retaining your customers and enticing them to stay with you for the long haul?

Rachel:

Yeah. So one thing that’s interesting about Daily Harvest is on the outside, we kind of look like a subscription, but we’re actually not a subscription. We’re really what we call a replenishment business because once you sign up for Daily Harvest, our goal is to make sure that your freezer is always stocked. And it’s not because that’s good for us, it’s because that’s how we make sure that you have the food that you want when you want it. At that moment when you’re hangry, when you’re reaching for that bar, you need to have the right food in your freezer. Otherwise, you’re going to make a different choice, right?

Rachel:

So we think a lot about what that replenishment looks like. And we also never want you to get an order of Daily Harvest that you don’t want. Right? So we actually communicate with our customers ad nauseum to make sure that we’re never sending them anything that they don’t want, and they’re only getting food when they do want it. And that’s what makes us different from a subscription business where you have to consume your food or use your razor or whatever it is within a specific period of time and it’s only good for that period of time. Because we’re frozen, we’re really not perishable, which is a huge benefit and allows us to be even more customer centric, but really thinking about maintaining our customer base.

Rachel:

Removing friction for our customers and making things as easy as possible for them, making their account as easy as possible to manage making sure that they’re getting the food that they want when they want it. And we found that there’s a direct correlation between removing that friction, being customer driven. We don’t even think about about retention. We think about how can we be more customer driven? How can we get our customers exactly what they want? And what we found is that those things correlate really nicely.

Stephanie:

Yeah, I completely agree. So what does that back end account management look like for your customers? And one thing that’s coming to mind is like the past couple interviews I’ve done, we’ve touched on one click ordering and how that’s a big thing that a lot of people are expecting now. And I could see that maybe coming into play for you guys too where you’re more about replenishing items. If I’m out of my matcha, or smoothie, or whatever it was that I really just enjoyed, going on to my account and just ordering that, and not having to have minimums or anything. Just being like, “That’s what I want,” and just doing it one off. How do you guys have the back end working?

Rachel:

Yeah. So we don’t do that. And the reason why is because we really think of ourselves, as I said, as replenishment. So our customer behavior is much more going to shop at Costco, let’s say. You don’t go to Costco to buy one thing. It’s never worth a shot.

Stephanie:

I need 10 pounds of butter when I go there.

Rachel:

Totally. But you have certain things that you go and you buy a lot of. So our customer really thinks about, how can Daily Harvest fill my entire freezer? When your inventory at home starts to dwindle, that’s when you make your next purchase. So for us, one click ordering is not a thing. And we find that actually there’s tension between how much cognitive load you reduce and how much customer friction you reduce, and people really getting the food that they want. So there’s definitely a balance there. But what we do instead is we have an app and our app is incredibly customer driven. And it’s about communication with our customers and making sure that, as I said, they’re getting the food that they want when they want it. But it’s definitely as easy as humanly possible, but not so easy that you’re going to get something that you don’t want.

Stephanie:

Mm-hmm (affirmative). That’s great. Yeah. And I think that’s a really good reminder, too, that everyone might be obsessed with a subscription model because that is good for businesses to lock people in. But that might actually leave a bad taste in a customer’s mouth. And your model is completely different, which is like focus on what they want and what they need and make it easy for them to order and refill quickly without having to come back a thousand times.

Rachel:

Yep. And make it as easy as possible honestly for them to pause and cancel and do all the things they want to do because when you do that, they come back.

Stephanie:

Yep. I love that. Low friction, it’s worth it. So to go to little more general commerce questions, what kind of disruptions do you see coming to commerce right now maybe in the next couple years?

Rachel:

I mean, look, I think COVID has been… it’s been an interesting few months. But what it has done is it’s really accelerated a bunch of trends that we’ve seen. And we’ve seen this huge adoption of ecommerce and people’s willingness to stick around once they’ve tried it. So as you had early adopters previously who were signing up for food delivery or whatever it may be delivered to their home, what we’re seeing now is people who are not early adopters, so more of the mainstream signing up. And there are different needs, and there’s a different level of education, and there’s all sorts of nuance to take into account with that trend. So we’re thinking a lot about that, how we continue to remove friction for this different type of customer.

Stephanie:

Mm-hmm (affirmative). That’s really great. So we have a couple minutes left and I want to jump over to the lightning round brought to you by Salesforce Commerce Cloud. This is where I’m going to ask you a question and you have a minute or less to answer. Are you ready, Rachel?

Rachel:

No.

Stephanie:

Prepare yourself to get some deep breaths. Get in the game. All right. We’ll start with the easier ones first. What’s Up next on your Netflix queue?

Rachel:

Oh, wait. I can’t remember what it was called. It’s The Man and the Company Castle. Hold on.

Stephanie:

Oh, that Amazon? The Man in the High Castle?

Rachel:

Yes. Not Netflix.

Stephanie:

That’s okay. Yeah. Have you started it yet or?

Rachel:

I haven’t but I am such a history nerd. And I don’t know how I missed that this show existed, but I cannot tell you how excited I am to watch it.

Stephanie:

Yeah, it’s very good.

Rachel:

Yeah. And I also feel like there’s something about current state of affairs and dystopian society is that it really resonates. So let’s see what it’s got for us.

Stephanie:

Yeah. I mean, I like that one a lot. I think it’s a good reminder I’m always very biased and ask about Netflix but Amazon, they’ve got some good stuff. I mean, I’ve binge-watched I think it was like Marvelous Mrs. Maisel if you knew to balance yourself out of it from dystopian to fun and cute. Also a very good series that I loved.

Rachel:

That show is amazing.

Stephanie:

Oh, you like it too? Yeah. It always leaves me with the happy feeling like, “Oh, this is cute. I love this.”

Rachel:

All the time that I remind them of Rachel Brosnahan, and I’m like, “That is a huge compliment. Thank you.”

Stephanie:

That is. She’s awesome. Good. What’s up next on your reading list? And it can be business or personal.

Rachel:

So it’s Never Split the Difference which I’ve actually read before, but I like to read it every few years because I think it’s the best negotiator out there and I’m not a natural negotiator. But it’s obviously a huge part of my job. So it’s coming up on time to read it once more.

Stephanie:

That’s great. What is one thing that comes to mind when you think about that book? One lesson or principle where you’re like, “Yeah, I’m not going to split the difference?” Anything high level other than what I just said which is just jacking the title.

Rachel:

So my favorite takeaway from the book, and it’s just a reminder, it’s really about listening. It’s funny. I think a lot about toddler psychology these days because I have a three-year-old and a five-year-old. And there’s a lot in common with the tactics in this book and toddler psychology, but it’s really about validating people’s emotions and feelings and creating trust and safety to be able to negotiate better.

Stephanie:

Oh, that’s good. I like that. It shows that so many things are similar in life. Dealing with toddlers is the same thing as negotiating for your salary or investment money. Same thing.

Rachel:

It really is. It’s crazy.

Stephanie:

I have to check that one out. What app or a piece of tech are you using right now that’s making you more efficient in your life?

Rachel:

Okay. So this is such a weird one, but my husband just introduced me to the app for my cable provider. And I had no idea that this existed. I never watched TV ever. But given that we’re in day three of the sit and wait for the results of our election, I’ve been able to just pop it up and have the news on live stream behind me. And it’s been incredible because previously, I was refreshing my Twitter feed every 20 minutes or whatever it was. But just kind of having it in live feed behind me has been a huge unlock for my efficiency in this crazy time.

Stephanie:

That’s great. I haven’t even thought about apps from cable providers. So it’s a good reminder for everyone. I like that.

Rachel:

It never occurred to me that one would even exist, and I’m very happy with it.

Stephanie:

That’s great. What’s one thing that you wish you knew more about? It could be a topic, a trend, a theme, anything.

Rachel:

Let’s see. I really wish I knew more about human psychology. I feel like every time I read something or learn more, I get really excited and I want to dive in more but I really never have time to. And it’s something that I feel would make me better at what I do every day if I really understood the psychology behind it.

Stephanie:

That’s a good one. Yeah, I completely agree about that. Something I always want to dive into more and haven’t had the time yet. So Rachel, this has been such a fun interview. Where can people find out more about you and Daily Harvest?

Rachel:

At dailyharvest.com.

Stephanie:

Awesome. Thanks so much for coming on the show.

Rachel:

Thanks for having me.

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