Abel & Cole operates in the competitive food subscription market with a successful fruit and veg subscription business, recently expanded to compete with recipe subscription boxes.
With a popular consumer proposition already in place, the business was looking to open up a new revenue stream and reach a new audience. They were planning a convenient B2B subscription service providing organic, ethically-sourced food to offices around the UK.
The business first needed to validate four key hypotheses:
- That existing consumers of organic food and drink would be a good target for promoting a B2B offering within their workplaces
- That marketing should lead on the company’s organic credentials
- That customers should be able to choose how much to order
- That customers do not have much interest in specifying the fruit in their orders
Armed with insight on these hypotheses, Abel & Cole wanted to beta launch the MVP service, then work through a prioritised roadmap to enhance and optimise the service based on continuous insight.
What we did
Validating and defining the proposition
- Workshops to establish business goals and a shared vision with stakeholders
- User research to test the four hypotheses
- Proposition design and service blueprint design
We rapidly on-boarded ourselves into the new proposition, catching up with all thinking carried out to-date and aligning ourselves and the stakeholders around clearly-identified objectives, vision, and constraints for the new venture.
We rapidly gained high-level insights into the needs, goals, and pain points of potential buyers. We used small focus groups of existing customers, and office managers and buyers, to understand more about users’ needs and goals, ultimately testing the validity of the four hypotheses.
This process uncovered the following insights and challenged our client’s assumptions around the new proposition:
Our research showed that those who choose organic food in their personal lives may not feel it’s appropriate to advocate for organic food or sourcing to their peers or employer. Marketing to decision-makers in the workplace would therefore be a necessity.
Findings revealed that office managers cared about quality above other factors, with organic certification and sustainable sourcing named as indicators of quality. They were also drawn to the functional benefits of the service, especially flexible last minute orders, no minimum contract, and the ability to cancel anytime.
Our research also showed that office managers and buyers wouldn’t know how much fruit to order. We discovered that it would be far more useful to ask them a few questions in order to recommend the right quantities.
Office teams feel strongly about fruit! Our research showed that managers would be reticent about placing an order if it contained certain fruits. The MVP would need to allow people to specify what they want.
We then used this insight to create a service blueprint depicting: (a) the journey of a first-time user, from discovery to ongoing use; and (b) the business process required to deliver this. This underpinned the design and build of the service.
Combining business goals and user needs, we worked really closely with Abel & Cole to define what the proposition should actually be and do, along with its key features. We then mapped out a high-level view of how the end-to-end service might work.
Designing and testing the service
- Proposition design and service blueprint design
- Creation of prototypes for several products supporting the service
- In-depth research to uncover additional insight around user goals and to usability test the prototypes
- Creation of a prioritised digital roadmap
The design and testing phase kicked off with a high-level prototype for a few products that support the service, including a sign-up page that explains the proposition and its USPs, order management facility, and the customer portal dashboard.
We ran a series of 1-to-1 interviews to explore in-depth:
- Users’ needs, goals, and pain points
- How this service may help them achieve on KPIs
- How well the prototypes resonated with users and fitted into existing workflows
This also enabled us to update and validate user personas.
Off the back of our research, we made amends to the prototypes and worked with the client to prioritise feature roll-out as part of a comprehensive digital roadmap.
Key outputs from our work included:
- A service blueprint
- Validated personas
- Workflows and prototypes (including sign-up page, homepage, and order management)
- Wireframes and MVP service design
- A prioritised digital roadmap
The launch of Fed by Abel & Cole has given the company a means of reaching a new B2B market, growing its online revenue, and mining insight into a new audience with a view to continuously enhancing the service.
The work we undertook was key to Abel & Cole choosing to launch an MVP service that put convenience and ease-of-use on equal footing alongside quality and ethics of the consumer proposition. The beta service will continue to undergo usability testing and continuous improvement based on data-driven insights.
Abel & Cole will also be testing the hypothesis that the service could be expanded into organic snacks, meal kits for staff, ready meals, and staff upsells such as direct purchasing.