UW alumni create new model for grocery delivery





Ever since its inception in the late 1990s, home grocery delivery service has waxed and waned in popularity through the incarnations of AmazonFresh and chain store delivery services, from the likes of Safeway, among others.

However, two UW alumni have a new spin on the familiar model in a fresh startup entitled Geniusdelivery, offering grocery deliveries from stores such as Costco and Walmart.

“We want to make online shopping and the delivery … an immersive, intuitive experience,” said Brodrick Yastrum, a 2012 business alumnus and co-founder of Geniusdelivery with Meaghan Jones, a UW alumnus with degrees in biochemistry and chemistry.

The delivery service is a simple model with key factors of convenience, speed, cost, and variety determining its success. Yastrum cited the Geniusdelivery fee structure as an example of bare minimum markups, in which the price increase on an item in a store, say, from $1.99 to $2.18, accounts for delivery fees primarily. Currently Geniusdelivery is cheaper than Safeway’s delivery service, and is comparable to AmazonFresh.

“In general, we’re really trying to be affordable,” Yastrum said. “We know the most important thing, especially to college students, is price.”

Thus, Yastrum emphasized the short window of time and same-day delivery Geniusdelivery had to develop; with an order in by 3 p.m., Geniusdelivery could offer delivery between 7 and 8 p.m.

“A short time window is also important,” Yastrum said. “But we don’t worry about making the money right now … building [a customer base] is more important.”

Currently Yastrum and Jones operate the deliveries themselves, but they are looking into contracting to couriers to expand to the Seattle area. Bobby Bertsch, a recent Western Washington University alumnus with a degree in kinesiology, has been working on direct marketing in West Seattle and Queen Anne.

“There’s a need in the U-District as well,” Bertsch said, “and we’re hoping to get the whole Seattle area and our name out there.”

Yastrum also spoke of UW students as a possible slice of the potential market, without easy access to any stores such as Costco, Walmart, and more. In addition, another feature they emphasized as possibly their most unique feature, and as essential to success with home shoppers, was their online innovative shopping model, GeniusAisles.

“It’s a little like Google Street View,” Yastrum said. “We have special wide-angle lenses, and we go in and take pictures so that it’s like you’re in the store of products when they’re on the shelves … imagine if you’re in an aisle, you could spin around, or hover over an item.”

Geniusdelivery recently confirmed an arrangement with Whole Foods Market to pilot its online shopping experience. Yastrum, Jones, and other members of the team will take pictures and collate them on the website, in preparation for orders. In addition, they constantly test the pricing algorithm that calculates delivery fees with select customers.

“As developer of the website, since the beginning, we’ve built it all from scratch,” Jones said. “We’ve run several tests with actual deliveries to ensure it all works.”

Bertsch said a focus on the website and affordability was the key to implementing Geniusdelivery’s growth as it develops from the embryo stage, since it was launched in January.

“I think the website offers a great customer experience, and definitely the fact we’re really user friendly, are most important,” Bertsch said.


Reach reporter Garrett Black
at news@dailyuw.com.
Twitter: @garrettjblack

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