Jow, the French e-grocery app — which combines recipes, recommendations and online grocery ordering — has raised $7 million in new funding.
The round is led by Stride.VC, alongside Caterina Fake and Jyri Engeström from Yes VC, and Shan-Lyn Ma, the co-founder and CEO of Zola. Previous seed backers, DST global partners and eVentures also participated.
Launched in 2018 and now supporting five of France’s leading grocery retailers (Monoprix, Carrefour, Auchan, Chronodrive and E.Leclerc), Jow’s app claims to let you complete your weekly online food shop in as little as a minute (once you’ve been on-boarded, of course).
It does this by creating customised menus, tailored to each user and household, and then automatically fills your online shopping cart with the required ingredients. The idea is to answer the question: “what’s for dinner tonight?” while providing a more cost-effective alternative to recipe kits such as Blue Apron or HelloFresh, and less reliance on take-outs from the likes of Deliveroo or Uber Eats.
“Doing your weekly shopping online can take you up to one hour,” says Jow co-founder and CEO Jacques-Edouard Sabatier. “You waste a lot of time looking for the right product category, sub category, scrolling through hundreds of references, you finally find your product, put it in your cart, and repeat this process up to 40 times (the number of items in your cart)! It’s a horrendous experience, with no added value at all for the customer.”
That’s in contrast to brick and mortar grocery shopping, argues Sabatier, where there is an opportunity to “feel, taste and smell the products.” He says it’s the terrible user experience of grocery shopping online that has limited its e-grocery growth. Jow aims to change that.
“Jow creates a customised menu, just for you, with simple and delicious recipes,” explains Sabatier. “Our food recommendation engine considers your tastes, your kitchen appliances, whether or not you have children and checks the availability of the ingredients in your supermarket. Jow then automatically fills your cart with all the ingredients you need to cook the meals.”
In addition, Jow offers a customised list of your repeat purchases, and its recommendation engine claims to help you choose the exact quantities needed to avoid waste. You also can check out with a single click, and the app will synchronise with your chosen supermarket delivery or pickup service.
Noteworthy is that the app’s recipe-to-cart feature represents on average 75% of the products Jow users add to their cart. Staple products such as toilet paper, beverages, toothpaste etc. make up the remaining 25%.
The app is free for end users, seeing the Paris and New York-based startup generate affiliate revenue from supermarkets that want to use the service to acquire younger, mobile-first customers. The business model is asset light, too, as Jow is largely built on top of the existing infrastructure and capabilities of larger supermarkets.
“Apart from the 50x improvement on the e-grocery funnel, it’s unbelievable to see that to date, in a world where you have tailored and recommended experiences around music, video etc., you have no strong recommendation engine or experiences around food,” adds Sabatier.
In addition, the startup believes that more broadly it has created a mobile e-grocery experience that actually works. “E-grocery is one of the only e-commerce segments where desktop still prevails,” says Sabatier. “[Bucking this trend], 90% of Jow’s customers shop using their mobile devices, the experience is so smooth and fast that you can do your weekly shopping in just one minute on the subway or the bus.”