May 13, 2021 at 10:26PM

The online grocery field is growing more crowded, with reigning brick-and-mortar leaders stepping up their eCommerce capabilities and digital newcomers bringing in funding by the millions (with valuat billions). Still, for all the entrants into the space, the online grocery shopping experience remains fairly static. Generally, the experience is limited to scrolling through the virtual shelves, placing items in your cart and checking out. Now, e-grocer Jupiter is reimagining the experience. On Thursday (May 13), the company announced the launch of its social shopping platform, which features recipe sharing, food groups and feedback platforms, turning online grocery shopping into a social networking experience.

“[Jupiter is] trying to help dual-income families cut the time in half that they spend to feed the family, effectively,” Chad Munroe, co-founder and CEO of Jupiter, told PYMNTS in an interview. “And feeding the family for us includes how you discover food … Today, that entire experience happens in many different platforms, from Pinterest to Reddit, for discovery of meal planning apps, grocery apps, and stuff like that. We built an experience that has everything in one product.”

Cutting Time With Data-Optimized Carts

As part of Jupiter’s goal of “giving time back to families,” the site uses artificial intelligence (AI) to pre-fill shoppers’ carts based on previous shopping behaviors, and customers can modify their carts from there. Munroe explained that customers typically keep 60 to 70 percent of their recommended orders, adding that within the next year, Jupiter hopes to refine the accuracy of its predictions by “an order of magnitude.” Ultimately, the goal is for the grocery process to be as simple as glancing at the recommended cart and then placing the order.

Already, some shoppers are leaving their orders completely up to Jupiter’s predictive algorithm. As Munroe noted, “You actually see people not look at their order before it’s placed — it happens today.”

Currently, the average amount of time shoppers spend on a Jupiter order is five to 10 minutes. The average brick-and-mortar grocery shopping trip takes 41 minutes — and according to grocery app Whisk, the average weekly online grocery shopping session is 15 minutes.

Reframing the Grocery Shopping Experience

With this new social feature, Jupiter is challenging the leading view of grocery shopping as a “single-player experience.” Munroe explained, “With us, it’s going to be you, the store, other people and content creators, so it’s going to feel kind of like the old days, when … it was really about the people.”

Through the app’s communities — some of which are based on specific diets, such as keto and vegan, and others that are based on lifestyle needs, such as groups for parents of toddlers — users will be able to share ideas. These communities are available to shoppers in markets Jupiter serves, and to consumers who are interested in the social platform in its own right, allowing Jupiter to gauge interest in other areas.

“I think one of the things you would find with grocery companies is that we’re very geo-locked,” Monroe said. “…As the community stuff gets more developed, we think that you’re going to have people engaging with Jupiter just to discover and be in communities, and that will essentially give us a feel for where our customers are.”

The platform takes a contextual approach to the eCommerce experience. Munroe noted that customers are “transcending shopping for products,” leaning toward “shopping for content with products underlying.” The social platform’s recipes — which are posted by content creator partners and by community members — are shoppable, enabling consumers to place all ingredients in their cart at once and to make modifications.

Intercepting the Social-to-Commerce Trajectory

Munroe believes that as social networking companies increasingly add shoppable features, they will soon integrate e-grocery commerce into their platforms. “I think it’s an unpopular opinion, but I see it happening,” he said. “…I think all of this [commerce integration] will … lead to them entering the grocery space. Food is such a big part of those platforms in terms of content consumption that it will eventually be a part of social products, and I don’t see grocery companies thinking about how to provide a multiplayer experience.”

By integrating social features into Jupiter’s online shop, the e-grocer is reversing this flow and preempting the issue, attracting those consumers who are looking for a social-centric commerce experience. Jupiter’s platform also offers a social discovery tool for those who are looking to cut back on more addictive social networks.

“We don’t have the incentive to just keep you coming back all the time,” said Munroe. Instead, the goal will be for users to log onto their communities and get the information they need to “help [them] make fast decisions.” As they engage with social communities, the platform gains insights about their behavior, and the “experience starts to feel more personalized,” further improving the AI’s time-saving recommendations.

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