Want to know how to start a meal-kit delivery service from home? Then this article is a must-read where I have covered every minute detail about starting and promoting your meal kit business.
Do you love cooking and enjoy serving exotic dishes on the dinner table to surprise your family?
Oh yes, I simply love cooking!
Do you enjoy visiting the grocery store to source ingredients? Do you often face difficulty finding special spices and condiment for an exotic dish?
No, I don’t enjoy grocery shopping at all!
Then by now you must have already tried a trusted meal-kit delivery service or perhaps planning to do so.
The meal-kit space seems overcrowded these days as many young food entrepreneurs are trying their luck with this unique business model. While there are lots of opportunities for new entrants in the meal-kit delivery space a wrong start may meet an undesirable end!
Here in this article I discuss the essential steps to start an online meal-kit delivery service. Before that, let’s check out few important facts about meal-kit.
What Exactly Is A Meal-Kit Business?
It is a kind of customized service that lets you order vegetables, fish, meat, eggs, condiments and other food items in exact portion and receive them right at your doorstep. New and delicious meal-kits basically include a recipe and all the necessary ingredients to prepare a healthy and wholesome dish. Surely meal kit deliveries come as a happy relief for countless busy families who hate the idea of visiting the grocery market.
The meal-kit business remains a top hit in the United States and other Western countries. If you are a little bit conversant about meal-kit then you must have heard about the popular online meal kit delivery businesses like Blue Apron, Hello Fresh & Plated.
When Blue Apron was first launched, they just shipped 20 meal boxes in their first week. Today, the same company delivers more than a million meal kits to consumers across the United States. Surely a great inspiration for budding entrepreneurs to start an online meal-kit delivery business, isn’t it!
But wait a minute! Before you take the plunge meal-kit there are a few important things you need to consider. To start an online meal-kit delivery business and run it successfully, you should start with a rock-solid business plan, a steady grasp of the concept, a unique twist to make it more enticing. Here we have deciphered the secret recipe to a successful meal-kit delivery business.
Who Can Start A Meal-Kit Delivery Service?
The answer is anyone can start an online meal-kit delivery business, provided he/she knows what it takes to set up a meal-kit business model. So, yes, starting a meal kit business is actually easy!
Generally food enthusiasts, food bloggers, meal-planners, expert chefs (who love to experiment with new recipes), and owners of small restaurant & food joints prefer this business model.
Meal-kit is one business that demands new and exciting concepts almost every day. If you are not a genuine food lover, enthusiast or already a part of the food industry you may not be able to cope up with ever-changing customer demands.
Do you have a hidden treasure which includes some unique secret recipes inherited from your mom or grand-mom? If you love to experiment and create new dishes then you are the best candidate to start an online meal-kit delivery business. And then, remember this is just the first step as there are lots of technicalities, needed to be dealt with as well.
How To Decide The Right Meal Kit Business Model?
You need a well-planned and strategized meal kit business model.
Start by planning an online business model after considering important criteria like
- How many meal options you plan to offer?
- Do you plan to change the recipes often?
- How will you safely store the perishable raw ingredients?
- Have you thought about how to attract more local customers?
- What will be your marketing and revenue generation strategy and so on.
If you plan to start an online meal kit business then plan a subscription-based model where customers can receive their meal kits daily, weekly, or fortnightly according to their selected subscribed plan.
You can create a website or offer your delivery service via mobile apps. Another critical point that needs careful consideration is the number of vendors you are going to connect with.
Decide beforehand whether you want to work with multiple vendors or just do it yourself. If you are an entrepreneur who wants to start small, then think of maintaining a single vendor model to ease the operational challenges. This way you can have a better control over the price, quality, and delivery services.
What Is The Business Licensing Criteria For Starting A Meal Kit Business?
The very first step is to apply for a general business licensing. Along with it, you may also need vending license and permits from the health department to sell your meal kit.
The best approach is to check out with the municipality where you plan to start your meal kit business. They will tell you whether you need a separate permit for meal-kit handling. Usually such information can be found from the Department of Licenses & Inspections.
Else you can contact the local health department to get complete details about the relevant licensing and meal kit handling permits.
What Features Should You Add To Make Your Website/App More Attractive?
“A satisfied customer is the best business strategy of all”, by Michael LeBoeuf sums it up so nicely! If you aim to start an online meal-kit delivery business and run it successfully then focus on customer satisfaction while planning features/facilities of the website or mobile app.
Be innovative with the planning.
A recipe catalog/organizer is a great feature to add to make it convenient for customers to store their favorite recipes and detailed nutrition information. Allow your customers to create and access the recipe catalog page, even when the subscription expires.
Yes, it gives them enough reason to visit and re-visit your website/app!
You can include meal pages which display detailed meal description, ingredients, recipe, and some exciting secrets to make the preparation more tasty and healthy. Give them a reason to keep coming back to your meal-kit delivery business website by announcing that you are going to a add a special menu every weekend,… a recipe which has never been published before.
You can make it even more exciting by announcing rewards for the best weekly menu upload. Highlight that menu on your website/app for a week, thus providing a promotion platform to aspiring chefs and meal planners. When it comes to adding unique features to strengthen your digital presence, don’t hesitate to try something new and eccentric.
Whom Do You Target in Your Meal Kit Business?
When it comes to finding the prospective customers for your meal kit service, it is always better to start by targeting local customers.
Students and professionals settled away from home, working couples and single parents who have no time to visit the local market, and the elders who are unable to do their own grocery shopping, – these are the sections seem to be the obvious target for meal-kit providers. However there’s exception as well.
Even families who till now preferred visiting the local market to plan their daily menu are now falling for such services as well, simply because of the convenient, cost-effective and healthy options the meal-kit can offer. Then there are aspiring chefs and nutrition planners, running their small business and looking for exotic ingredients for cooking- they too can be prospective customers of your meal-kit delivery business.
Conduct a thorough research of the target market before you start an online meal-kit delivery business.
How do You Acquire and Retain Customers?
Now that you have gathered basic info to start an online meal-kit delivery business, the next answer you must be looking for is how to get customers and retain them!
Here I would emphasize on brand positioning. You can try to establish your meal-kit connection with local farms and regenerative agriculture to add a genuine green touch to your business.
Word-to-mouth marketing and social media promotion work great for this particular business. Both online and offline display advertising proves to be effective too.
And yes, don’t overlook the power of exciting, fresh content. Be it sharing a unique recipe or revealing some little-known healthy diet secrets, people love reading engaging blogs and articles. The best part about content marketing is that it is totally free and yet powerful enough to reach audience beyond your local market.
How Do You Generate Revenue For Your Meal-Kit Delivery Business?
If you have decided to start an online meal-kit delivery business then profit must be in your mind too. Meal Kits are generally quite profitable mainly because you mainly spend money to buy the raw ingredients. You can buy ingredients from your vendor at wholesale prices and deliver them to clients according to their requirements.
However the one problem that an entrepreneur looking to start an online meal-kit delivery business might face is to keep the ingredients fresh till delivery. Since most meal-kit items are perishable, a careful inventory planning is suggested to generate revenue from this business.
You can follow one trick which is successfully adopted by some small meal-kit delivery services.
Buy raw ingredients, then clean, cut, proportion them properly and finally put your own price tags on the packages.
This prevents decay of the products and also renders a sophisticated personalized touch to your meal kits.
Customers willingly pay the price for such neatly packaged meal-kits. However this entire process often requires more manpower which means higher business investment for the owner.
Partnering with multiple vendors to get the right ingredients is another great option. You can buy ingredients based on subscriptions you already have. Thus you do not need to maintain own inventory and incur loss, in case items are not sold. The profit margin may not be that impressive initially, unless you can get more buyers to subscribe for the meal-kit service.
To start an online meal-kit delivery business you should proceed methodically. Do not hesitate to get some expert help to ensure your meal-kit business generates adequate revenue and maintains the growth momentum as planned by you.
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