Underdog Grocers, Meet Your New Secret Weapon
Everyone loves underdog stories.
They’re inspiring and motivating. Many give us hope in our own lives of how we can overcome our most daunting challenges and prove naysayers wrong. Most of the time, we get our underdog story fix from movies, TV shows, and books. But today, we get to tell a real-life story of how the little guys are competing with the big guys.
Out of Ithaca, NY, comes a startup that helps local and regional grocery stores compete with national chains by giving them access to an e-commerce platform that levels the playing field. Meet Rosie, a company founded by Cornell alumni, Jon Ambrose, Nick Nickitas, and Michael Ryzewic, that is expanding all across the country and proving that big doesn’t always mean better.
The Industry-Leading Online Grocery Shopping Department for Mobile and Web
– Rosie Website
Rosie is an online platform built to help local and regional grocers better serve the needs of their customers and compete with the flashy offerings of larger companies. With Rosie, grocery stores get an e-commerce platform, in-store and delivery capabilities, marketing services, and data analytics – benefits typically only owned by companies backed by bottomless pockets. When a grocer signs on with Rosie, it first gets its entire product catalog digitized so that shoppers can sift through inventory on their mobile, laptop or tablet devices. From there, shoppers are able to schedule in-store pickups or deliveries should they not want to spend time walking grocery aisles.
For in-store pickups, shoppers build an online grocery list to be picked out by in-store staff members. All sales and in-store specials are honored online and shoppers can provide detailed descriptions of their preferences for specific items. Pickups can be scheduled up to six days in advance which is perfect for young families or college students who know what they need and when without having to browse. For those who may not be able to travel or who live in more rural areas, Rosie also allows shoppers to schedule grocery deliveries that can go all of the way to their front door or to a more central location between them and the store. Most retailers using Rosie deliver within a 10-mile radius and shoppers must be physically present to receive groceries.
Rosie allows grocery retailers to set their own pricing for in-store pickups and deliveries so that they can cater to the specific pricing demands of their local populations. On the shopper side, people have to sign up with Rosie and then select a participating grocery store in order to schedule either. Rosie will also provide local and regional grocers with co-branded, paper-based and digital marketing support. In markets with few grocery store options, this is especially valuable where stores are competing over a small population. Finally, Rosie’s platform is able to collect data on customers to help grocers manage their inventory and promote to current and potential shoppers more effectively.
Bringing Big City Benefits To Small Town America
Rosie’s founding team consists of Jon Ambrose, Nick Nickitas, and Michael Ryzewic who met while pursuing their MBAs at Cornell. The three had past experiences living in bigger markets like New York City where there is an overabundance of services that make grocery shopping or food buying incredibly convenient. The gap between what was offered in big cities vs Ithaca was large which led the Rosie team to dream up a solution that would lead to a similar set of benefits, only now in small-town America.
Within a few short years, Rosie was backed by major investors like Raymond Chang of NXT Ventures and continues to add new grocers to its platform every day because of its clear value to both grocery stores and customers. Rosie is currently used by over 100 retailers representing more than 300 stores in 23 states and has signed deals with 7 out of the top 20 wholesalers to provide services on an exclusive or preferred basis. There is a lot of runway left for Rosie as evidenced by the company’s frequent press releases announcing new partnerships all over the country.
Grocery shopping made EASY
This Untold story reminds us that you don’t have to come out of startup hubs like Silicon Valley or New York City to be successful. Rosie was born in a small town where it was able to develop a product that was relevant right in its own backyard. Because the founding team knew what was offered in the big city, they were able to modify the model slightly and give more rural areas a version of what had proven to be successful elsewhere. And local and regional grocery chains love their new capabilities.
Keep in mind that the well-funded Silicon Valley startup is not always the best positioned to meet everyone’s needs. If you can create an undeniable offering that meets the needs of customers, VCs will find you no matter where you are and if you need help getting groceries to your front door check out Rosie’s app here!