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Shuffling Services: How one company pivoted to an online model

  • Azan 

“Pivot” might be one of the most used words for 2020, for good reason. Restaurants had to stop serving dine-in, retailers canceled purchase orders and stopped the rollout of new products, events stopped. Many businesses pivoted to e-commerce (check out this post we wrote on the dependency of e-commerce post-COVID). The only businesses to survive this impact were ones that could pivot quickly and find a way to serve their customers directly. Enter the meal kit. 

Subscription services were already on the rise, pre-pandemic. Companies like DollarShaveClub and Blue Apron have been growing fast in popularity in recent years- back in 2018 McKinsey reported that the subscription e-commerce market had grown by more than 100% a year since 2013. But from then until 2020, meal-prep companies like HelloFresh were one of the fastest to grow. We recently wrote about Twitter’s subscription model, check it out if you haven’t.

During the pandemic, Gartner found that 1 in 5 consumers purchased a new subscription box. And this isn’t just for first-time subscription purchasers, 27% of all consumers expect to see their subscription payments increase into the next year (according to Paysafe). A large share of this growth comes from the meal kit (or meal prep) industry- but aside from the difference in the amount of prep the customer needs to do, there is very little differentiation in this market. Big companies like Blue-Apron and HelloFresh had partnered with the likes of Chrissy Teigen and Bob’s Burgers, but expert-led cooking classes were still rare.

Having recently shared their story on Shark Tank, San Francisco-based TruffleShuffle is an excellent case study in the quick pivot to meal-kit, but better. Started by two chefs and a hospitality pro (all previously from French Laundry), TruffleShuffle used to sell truffles to restaurants and in markets. They were also working on a big integration with Whole Foods. 

TruffleShuffle makes their case on Shark Tank
Photo from ABC

March 2020 hit and they were sitting on 20 pounds of fresh truffles. This is where things get very unique. 

TruffleShuffle quickly pivoted to Zoom cooking classes, not too common in the food industry as most people were pivoting to to-go/curbside or meal-kits with a recipe card. But in order to sell more of their coveted truffles, they needed people to cook a different type of meal (think Michelin Star) at home. They put together kits to sell the truffles they had on hand, and with a simple email – they sold out in hours.

Next, they leveled up again, by partnering with Michelin-starred chefs and celebrities like Snoop Dogg. At the start of the pandemic, they made a promise not to furlough anyone. In that time they were not only able to keep that promise but grew from 9 to over 50 employees. They’ve also expanded their Zoom classes to additional channels, like Instagram Live. This quick pivot to a meal kit, with expert guidance from pro-chefs and celebs, helped TruffleShuffle get a deal with Mark Cuban for half a million dollars.

If your business lost customers during the pandemic, due to the restriction on how you could serve those customers, what did you do? How did you adapt? If you are curious about how to leverage more digital tools like virtual meetings and online courses, email marketing, or in finding ways to diversify your sales channels,  contact us today.