The days when customers went through an hour walking around and losing all sense of direction in a food store, regularly with kids close by is progressively turning into a thing of days gone by. The drive towards ultra-convenience in the shopping experience presently implies that – so much of what a customer needs is only a tick or a swipe away.
But, in reality, the retail revolution is scarcely beginning. With a large group of advances achieving development in 2019, from robotics to augmented reality, the next phase of shopping innovation will take convenience to entirely different incredible dimensions. Something that’s new coming up these days is personalized shopping experiences. Spoon Guru is a fast-growing tech startup – its technology enables retailers to deliver highly personalized shopping experiences tailored to every consumer, based on their distinct and unique dietary needs – increasing the choice of foods available, whilst minimizing the effort to find them. It does this by combining AI, machine learning and nutritional domain expertise, enabling large and unstructured datasets to be easily searched and accurately filtered to deliver relevant choices.
The Making of Spoon Guru
Launched in 2015 in London, Spoon Guru originated when CEO and Co-founder Markus Stripf’s wife, Jeany, developed multiple food allergies. Together, they struggled to shop for foods she could eat, and quickly learned that this was due to lack of transparent information about products that catered to people with allergies and specific dietary preferences. Discovering there was limited help available, Markus took matters into his own hands and established Spoon Guru together with 2 friends and fellow digital pioneers Simon O’Regan and Tim Allen; originally an app that is now used by tens of thousands of users and is growing exponentially. However, what the team didn’t expect was the interest they have received from retailers, and in 2017, the UK’s biggest grocery retailer, Tesco, partnered with Spoon Guru by integrating Spoon Guru’s Machine Learning technology on its online shopping platform and app.
The Digital Pioneers
Markus Stripf CEO and Co-founder of Spoon Guru is the driving force behind the brand and is the public face of the company. Tim Allen, Co-CEO and Co-Founder is mainly focused on corporate affairs and business development whilst Simon O’Regan, the 3rd Co-Founder and CTO is the mastermind behind Spoon Guru’s game changing technology.
From Accuracy to Sustainability
Spoon Guru started its strategic partnership with Tesco, from Q1 2017 – while serving millions of customers live in market, processing billions of data points every day, with unprecedented levels of accuracy. Spoon Guru has proven to drive strategic KPIs for their partners, increasing trust in the products presented to customers, increase loyalty and repeat purchase. When using Spoon Guru filters, customers put more products into their cart and increase their cart value by double digit %.
There has been a significant improvement in the Tesco shopping experience: Before Spoon Guru re-indexed Tesco’s online grocery catalogue, consumers could only find a few hundred vegan products. Now they can find thousands. Before Spoon Guru, they could find just over 300 gluten free products. Now they can find more than 20,000. This allows Tesco to respond much more effectively to consumers’ requirements and preferences, and make much more accurate recommendations based on their profiles and propensities.
Most importantly, Spoon Guru is demonstrating how new technologies like AI and Machine Learning can have a huge benefit to large corporations around the world trying to cater for increasingly complex consumer preferences and requirements.
In Nov 2018, an independent study showed that Spoon Guru’s algorithm is more accurate that qualified health professionals when it comes to assessing suitability of products for people affected by food allergy. The study, written by Dr Danielle McCarthy (PhD, RNutr), showed how Spoon Guru’s Machine Learning model clearly enhances and improves accuracy for those suffering from food allergies and remove the often-exhaustive effort of filtering safe products, eliminating the fear and anxiety those with allergies often feel around food.
Revolutionizing Shopping Experiences
When talking about how disruptive technologies like Big Data Analytics/ Artificial Intelligence/ Machine or Deep Learning/Cloud Computing/IoT/Robotics are impacting today’s innovation, CEO Markus Stripf believes, “Disruptive technologies like AI, robotics, AR/VR, etc. are impacting all aspects of the supply chain as well as transforming actual shopping experiences. Logistics are being optimised with huge efficiency gains and shopper missions are getting more personalised and convenient. In the end, the consumer will benefit from all of these technical advances as prices should come down while shopping experiences should get more tailored to individual needs and relevant, which has to be a good thing”.
Guiding Foodie Hand for Better Choices
Spoon Guru’s game-changing platform supports an array of medical, wellbeing, and lifestyle diets, delivering a tailored shopping experience to each individual customer and helping shoppers make healthier choices. With 64% (Nielsen) of the world’s population now actively excluding foodstuffs from their diet, the food industry is under mounting pressure to meet a growing demand for more accuracy, relevancy and choice. Spoon Guru TAGS™ relieves this pressure by allowing leading retailers around the world to do so effortlessly.
Markus feels the development of safeguarding technology is so important now more than ever. “We’re living in the height of the AI boom, and focusing on how emerging technology can impact accuracy will not only help allergy sufferers find safe food products but also enhance how our healthcare services treat and manage allergies, as well as providing reliable solutions to all our business partners like Tesco, Jet, Albert Heijn, etc who license our food search and classification engine,” he said.
The frustration, confusion and lack of choice consumers have had to endure for so long is no longer necessary, let alone acceptable. The good news is that innovative AI based technology like the Spoon Guru TAGS™ platform is now available to empower retailers around the world enabling them to respond to ever growing consumer demand for more accuracy, transparency, relevance and choice.
Commenting on challenges Markus said operating a startup comes with its unique set of challenges. One should be able to operate on a shoestring budget, especially in the early days and one lacks the corporate muscle some of the bigger companies have at their disposal. On the plus side one can afford to be much more agile and is not being slowed down by having to deal with corporate inertia or inefficiencies stemming from unintegrated legacy systems.
The company received a number of awards, including the 2018 Retail Week Awards Customer Innovation Award for its partnership with Tesco, the Retail Technology Game-changer Award at the World Retail Awards, and Technology Supplier of the Year award at The Grocer Gold awards. The masterminds behind the technology – Markus Stripf, Tim Allen and Simon O’Regan – were also presented with the Retail & E-Commerce Tech Founder of the Year at the 2018 BMW i UK Tech Founder Awards.
In the USA, Spoon Guru was awarded the Personalised Nutrition Initiative and got the recognition at the Nutraingredients awards.
Capturing Futuristic Opportunities
Spoon Guru is set to transform the world of food search and discovery. But for the immediate future the business is focused on capturing a global retail opportunity by enabling retail corporations to provide safe, compelling and personalized shopping experiences to their customers.
In addition to constantly extending the number of medical, religious and lifestyle diets, Spoon Guru’s team is on the mission to helping people make better food choices. 70% of consumers want to make healthier choices (Forbes) – yet people are often unable to do so due to limited nutrition knowledge and lack of clear communication from retailers. Spoon Guru is actively developing proprietary health diets and tools in order to make it easier for people to meet their personal objectives, and bring positive and ongoing changes in their health and wellbeing.