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Freshpet gets personal with its pet parents to meet flexible dietary needs

Mark Samuels Profile picture for user Mark Samuels March 15, 2024
The pet food supplier is opening up a whole new area of business and enabling flexibility in the creation of orders.


Last year diginomica looked to how pet food supplier Freshpet was overhauling its traditional comms channels to improve engagement with its customers, AKA so-called pet parents. Flash forward six months and work continues with the latest development being a push to create more flexible experiences for pets and parents. 

The objective is to enable greater personalization in the form of Freshpet’s Custom Meals proposition. These enable customers to order the best recipes for their pet’s needs, in the right amount, to meet the specifications of their meal plans, which might be built around a  number of factors, including a pet’s gender, age, weight and activity level.

It’s also about a move to add a direct-to-consumer model to the existing network of retailers which services 11.5 million households in the US. While the company’s traditional focus has been on this in-store network, Sobel says it was recognized that the right technology platform could help the company explore a new business model:

We saw it as an opportunity. Our move into piloting a direct-to-consumer  (D2C) experience was about being available to pet parents where and how they want to shop. So, when we decided to pilot moving into a direct-to-consumer experience, we looked at building the best tech stack that we could versus building a solution on our own.

Developing personalization

The firm chose Ordergroove’s Bundles Suite offering to deliver this new functionality. Using API tech, retailers can build bundles and subscription-based offerings for customers, which fitted Freshpet’s brief, according to Jessie Sobel, VP of Strategic Growth Initiatives: 

We wanted to move into subscriptions because we've seen with pet food ordering through our pureplay approach that 70% comes through auto-ship. That’s the most sustainable business model for our offering. The second piece is that many pet parents want variety, so bundles are equally important. We recognize that custom meals, subscription recipes and quantities are different for each pet.

This new D2C business model is currently being tested in a pilot geography in which customers are now able to order bundles of pet food with the optimal recipes for their pets' sensitivities and health goals. As requirements change, so can the mix of products that Freshpet sends to doors:

Ordergroove allows the customer from an order management standpoint to change their mix, which is unique in the tech stack – to have the ability to change the recipes in the mix without having set bundles…The amount of logic that has gone into the systems allows every pet parent to have a different mix of recipes, quantities and frequency of delivery. All that work is happening in the background and the flexibility is there to allow us to offer different plans.

With the local trial up-and-running,  the next big challenge is thinking about how or when to scale up this new business model, says Sobel: 

Freshpet is primarily sold through our 34,000 fridges. So, from a business perspective, I think we just have the long-term opportunity in mind. It’s not necessarily a business that we need to scale super-fast. We are still focused on our core business.

For now, her team will continue to hone the technology stack and the business will think carefully about how it might implement an effective last-mile delivery solution for Freshpet Custom Meals across other geographies:

Now we have put together an end-to-end solution, it’s about deciding whether or not we want to go into more highly dense population metropolitan areas or if we want to figure out a last-mile solution that's national. So, 12 months from now, we will be in more geographies. It's just a question of where and how.

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