How UglyFood Reduces Food Waste and Increases Store Sales with Shopify POS

How UglyFood Reduces Food Waste and Increases Store Sales with Shopify POS

Augustine Tan launched UglyFood to eliminate food waste and offer an alternative to grocers who discard imperfect produce that doesn’t fit an aesthetic customers find appealing. UglyFood turns edible (but unattractive) fruit and vegetables into fresh juice, salads and fruit tea. 

As the brand’s mission gained traction and started building a loyal customer base in Singapore, Tan was inspired to join forces with entrepreneur Sean Goh and bring UglyFood’s sustainable consumption movement to Europe and the United States. 

To support its international expansion, UglyFood uses Shopify Plus to power its ecommerce component and Shopify POS for its cafés, which also function as fulfillment centers for local pickup orders. “Centralizing the brand’s operations with Shopify makes it easier for us to buy produce from suppliers and bring them through our own supply chain before sending them to customers either via delivery or local pickups,” explains Goh. 

With Shopify POS helping manage perishable inventory, and fulfill local delivery and pickup orders, UglyFood has enjoyed: 

  • The ability to track and manage perishable inventory 
  • Higher store sales thanks to local pickup
  • Greater customer retention, with return customers making up 50 percent of sales 

The challenge: Tracking and managing perishable inventory 

When your business revolves around perishable goods, having timed inventory controls is critical–and not having it can have devastating consequences. “Fresh food usually lasts two to three days, so we need granular warehouse and inventory management,” says Goh. 

On top of its complex inventory needs, Goh also wanted a commerce platform that made upselling easier. “It’s challenging to upsell effectively when most customers get their orders delivered,” explains Goh. “We wanted to be able to incentivize customers to choose local pickup with discounts. This would bring them into our store, which makes upselling possible.”

To ensure a coordinated pickup experience, Goh also wanted to let customers select store pickup times online. This would ensure staff could serve customers one-on-one, while also preventing overcrowding. In light of the pandemic, having those controls was essential.  

“Since we deal with perishable inventory and have a small window to sell-through our stock, we needed a platform with timed inventory controls that also enabled us to offer local pickup and delivery.” 

  • Sean Goh, General Manager, UglyFood

The Solution: Shopify’s robust inventory management and multichannel fulfillment 

When UglyFood launched with Shopify Plus, they were keen to take advantage of its timed inventory controls which made monitoring perishable inventory straightforward. “One of the key features I use are the ‘day's old’ inventory alerts. It’s great and makes sense for fresh food,” says Goh. 

In fact, Goh is so impressed by the feature that he is investigating how to monitor stock on half and even quarter days. Shopify’s timed inventory controls are an essential tool for reducing food waste, minimizing sunken costs, and ensuring customers always receive produce that is safe for consumption.

Goh also appreciated how easy Shopify POS makes offering and fulfilling local pickup orders simple. “Shopify makes it easy to show local pickup as a fulfillment method on our website, and for store staff to fulfill those orders from the POS app,” Goh explains. 

Store staff each have the Shopify POS app installed on their smartphones, which has resulted in greater efficiency. “Equipping our staff with Shopify POS has made a huge difference in efficiency and sales. They can fulfill local pickup orders from their phone and look up products and prices. They have everything they need to serve customers effectively in their pocket,” says Goh. 

To let customers schedule store pickup and delivery times, UglyFood took advantage of Shopify’s app ecosystem. “We use Zapier to control what times customers can schedule pickup and delivery orders. We can also limit how many people select the same time, which helps us control how many people are in our store at once.” 

“Incentivizing customers to choose store pickup with discounts helps bring more people to our store, which gives staff an opportunity to upsell.” 

  • Sean Goh, General Manager, UglyFood

The Result: Higher sales and repeat customer rates   

Since launching with Shopify, business has been booming for UglyFood. Offering timed local pickup has enabled staff to give more personalized service to customers, which has lifted average order values. “Since we started incentivizing local pickup, around 15 percent of our total sales come from our store,” explains Goh. 

Shopify’s timed inventory controls have also enabled the UglyFood team to communicate new arrivals with customers quickly via WhatsApp and Telegram and sell-through produce faster. “Every Monday we broadcast the shipments we’re receiving that week, and share promotions on older goods to sell-through that stock.” This helps UglyFood sell new arrivals faster, and ensure as little produce is wasted as possible. 

“We’ve built a loyal customer base that aligns with our mission and keeps their eye out for clearance stock,” says Goh. “Now, return customers make up around 50 percent of our sales. To me, that’s the real benefit. People align with our mission and want to close the loop on food waste as much as we do.” 

“Shopify has helped us bring our brand to more markets and run our online and physical sales channels as one. It’s helped us simplify operations and streamline our offering, which ultimately improves our customer experience and retention.”

  • Sean Goh, General Manager, UglyFood