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Food content is Commerce Plus Payments innovation

In the hazy years between around 2008 and 2013, when the mobile internet brought changes to all aspects of our lives, it was a kind of Mesozoic commercial era, bridging the old and new worlds.

At the time, food journalist, author and CEO Amanda Hesser had the early idea of Food52which basically started as a food blog and is now an organized online marketplace with a $100 million valuation and a tasty formula for turning content into commerce.

In a conversation for the series “Digital Payments Flip the Script: 10 Merchants and 10 Visions for Digital Transformation”, a PYMNTS and PayPal collaboration, Hesser told Karen Webster of PYMNTS that in the beginning, “there was no shopping cart or checkout. We had a store with categories in a traditional eCommerce way. You could search for cookware, we had product pages, but if you wanted to buy a product, you had to click on that source.We didn’t do affiliate because affiliate networks weren’t that advanced.

The company first built its platform to process payments because “there really wasn’t an existing platform that we could use that could create the kind of dropshipping model that we have,” a- she declared. Over time, it is continuously updated to improve the payment experience.

However, Food52’s real strength was the content, and that’s where the breakthrough happened. It all started with a realization that “when you’re starting out as a business venture, the way you measure and validate your success is so transaction-based that it can be difficult to invest in content unless you ‘a transaction results’.

It didn’t take him long to realize that “you have to build trust with people, and you can build incredible trust through content.” We had to do that first and build loyalty before we could convince people to use their credit card on our site to buy products. »

Deepening connections is a founding principle of the lifestyle brand, which is why Hesser said she prefers to describe Food52 as a community rather than a marketplace. Doing this means being a company that is not obsessed with quick consumer decisions. This seems counter-intuitive; it’s the contrary.

“The problem with content and relationship building is that people don’t mind you recommending things or getting them to buy something,” she said. “But if that’s all you do, it looks like the relationship is thin.”

Instead, creating a sense of community and acting as a “wider resource in their lives…when looking for inspiration, but also when trying to figure out which sauté pan they should buy, creates the flow that starts through inspiration and trust, ending in conversions.

See also: Creating kitchen utensils for a generation that doesn’t cook

Curation Revelation

Digging deeper into the market positioning that differentiates Food52 from its competitors, Hesser said she thinks we’re overwhelmed with choice when a user-friendly guide is what people want.

“I see marketplaces as [sites] where sellers sign up and sell things,” she said. “In fact, we are looking for suppliers that we want to work with. We have a buying team, and that’s part of our curation. You can choose from 35 or more non-stick frying pans. We’re just going to show you three and tell you why we think they’re the best.

The pandemic has been a test for the platform, and it has responded in a community way.

“Some of our manufacturers stopped what they were making and started producing masks, so we sold masks and hand sanitizer,” she said. “We responded when and what people needed and cared about.”

It was a pivot with a point, as this “meet them where they are with what they need” mentality quickly saw Food52 ideally positioned to take advantage of other more lucrative pandemic trends.

Seeing sales of outdoor home items take off, she said: ‘We had thankfully anticipated it and planned a bit. Interestingly, there was a big rush for lots of kitchen utensils at the start of the pandemic, then there was a period when there were none, and then it kind of came back. We expect it to continue to change.

With 60,000 recipes on the site and a few competing pandemic-era design trends to exploit, Hesser said she expects the Food52 community to eat and decorate on multiple fronts in 2022.

Along with the growth of outdoor entertainment and the return of travel, she noted, “people’s relationship with the office is forever changed.”

She said, “we don’t see it as this place where people are Monday through Friday.”

“People are changing the way they live in their homes because they now have permanent workspaces,” she said. “What does it look like? People want these spaces to reflect who they are. We make sure to deliver that through the products we offer.

Read also: How Furniture Helps Build a Greater Retail Ecosystem

New products, old favorites

Expanding through a series of recent strategic acquisitions, including lighting and homeware e-commerce site Schoolhouse and iconic Danish kitchenware brand Dansk, Food52 plans further range expansions as top pandemic nesting tendencies become a way of life.

Hesser told Webster that in addition to a line of dry goods coming this year, inspired by booming business in this category during the pandemic, “One of the things I’m most excited about and most proud is our Five.Two product line. We design the products together with our community from the ground up. We receive feedback throughout the design process.

Incidentally, no MBA was required to participate in the Five.Two design team.

“It’s open,” she said. “Anyone interested can register. They take surveys, we send them products to test…look at prototypes, talk about the products they want and the design details. It’s really unusual in the market to have a product line where consumers have really weighed in on what they want and had an impact on the resulting product.

They like it to be lightweight, but the real innovation comes from community feedback. Hesser described something “we never would have thought of, but we think it’s awesome” – a cutting board-chopping board combo with deeper dripping troughs on the sides.

“They gave us valuable details that didn’t exist in a product on the market,” she said. “It seemed so obvious once we did it.”

Another is an apron with sewn-on potholders. No more searching for potholders.

“What we realized is that Five.Two is a really special product line,” she said. “We want to build on that, so we’ve done a lot more product development. We will start launching more products in the second half of the year.

If you’re wondering about this former food journalist and now CEO of Food52’s favorite recipe, check this out Bolognese Recipe. It’s Hesser’s favorite dish.

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NEW PYMNTS DATA: THE CUSTOM PURCHASING EXPERIENCE STUDY – MAY 2022

About: PYMNTS’ survey of 2,094 consumers for The Tailored Shopping Experience report, a collaboration with Elastic Path, shows where merchants are succeeding and where they need to up their game to deliver a personalized shopping experience.