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The “3-Click” Checkout Solution That Turns Creator Recipes Into Grocery Carts


The “3-Click” Checkout Solution That Turns Creator Recipes Into Grocery Carts

Creator economy startup cartd aims to shake up the creator economy by enabling food influencers to monetize the authentic recipe content that drives purchases but lacks a way to attribute sales. 

Co-founded by Ben Hawkins, a veteran of the retail and healthcare tech sectors, cartd has built an AI-powered platform to streamline the journey from being inspired by creator recipe videos to checking out with a grocery cart filled with the necessary ingredients in just three clicks. 

Its recommendation engine optimizes ingredient lists across multiple saved recipes to reduce household food waste. “We envision a future where creators can earn off all the authentic content that’s inspiring purchase decisions,” Hawkins says, providing a way for food creators to monetize their followers’ shopping habits. The startup also furnishes brands with valuable data on how creator marketing campaigns directly spur sales at grocery retailers.

Hawkins’ Cross-Sector Career Path

Hawkins has spent a decade honing his product and technology skills across the retail and healthcare sectors. “I started my career at the John Lewis Partnership, working at Waitrose and learning the nuances of how the supermarket and grocery sector works,” he says. 

The retail expert later joined UK health-tech unicorn Babylon Health during the pandemic, building functionality for remote clinical consultations that became vital. Hawkins then had a stint at the aviation company Lilium before deciding to launch his own venture.

Ben teamed up with co-founder Watson Gardiner, who led international partnerships at U.S. delivery giant DoorDash, as they expanded across 27 global markets “He had huge experience working in the partnership [and] sales space for quick commerce,” Hawkins notes of Watson’s expertise that complemented his own grocery and technology background.

Solving a Consumer & Creator Pain Point

cartd aims to solve the consumer pain point of being inspired by appetizing food content on social media but then struggling to purchase the ingredients needed to recreate the recipes. “Everyone has tons of saved recipes,” Hawkins explains. “But when it comes to doing their grocery shopping, they have no idea what to buy and get frustrated trying to mix ingredients across multiple recipes.”

The startup’s mission is to provide monetization opportunities for food creators similar to what exists for creators in verticals like fashion, beauty, and electronics. “For food that doesn’t exist, even though it is one of the biggest sources of content on social media,” Hawkins notes. cartd envisions a future where food creators can earn income from the ingredient sales their authentic recipe content inspires, rather than having to rely on inauthentic and irregular sponsored brand partnerships.

“We envision a future where creators can earn a fair income from their authentic content – the same way any other advertising channel does – because that’s what is inspiring purchase decisions for consumers,” Hawkins states of food creators and their recipe posts driving grocery sales.

Streamlining the Purchase Journey

To reach its goal, cartd has built functionality to streamline the food purchase journey for consumers. Users can go from being inspired by a recipe video to having a pre-loaded grocery cart in just a few clicks. “We enable the consumer to go from the source of inspiration on social media quickly…and then they can access the recipe to have a pre-loaded cart of ingredients that will make that recipe,” Hawkins explains.

cartd optimizes ingredients across multiple saved recipes to reduce food waste and provides a “three-click” process: click on the recipe content, load the pre-built ingredient basket, and then check out via integration with the user’s preferred grocery retailer. “We don’t want to have the checkout on our site,” says Hawkins, aiming to integrate grocery e-commerce rather than rebuild it from scratch seamlessly.

Reducing Household Food Waste

A key focus for cartd is reducing household food waste, which accounts for 60-70% of total food waste. The platform’s recommendation engine identifies ingredients across recipes and intelligently suggests complementary recipes to use up leftover items. “We’re able to identify exactly what portion of ingredients are used and know what the customer has remaining for another recipe,” Hawkins explains.

cartd optimizes grocery lists not just within a single recipe but across multiple saved recipes as well. It prioritizes using up ingredients with short shelf lives first and factors in product costs to reduce expensive wastage. “We serve that up to the consumer at the point of purchase…we’re trying to stop the consumer from over-purchasing ingredients that will potentially go to waste,” says its co-founder.

Monetization and Marketing Data for Brands

Brands can leverage cartd as a centralized platform to easily find and partner with food creators rather than having to source them individually across disparate social media channels. “We will actually be able to streamline that as the one point that they can access the whole food creator economy,” Ben notes.

This allows both creators and brands to maximize their return on marketing investment by directly attributing sales conversions back to the inspiring content and recipes. As Hawkins summarizes, “cartd enables brands to transact directly from video content, transforming moments of inspiration from being solely an awareness-driver to an effective customer acquisition and sale channel.” 

Current Focus and Brand Tools Roadmap

“We’ve optimized for an efficient customer journey to date. Think of Amazon two-click checkout, but for food,” Hawkins says of cartd’s current focus. However, he reveals that providing robust analytics and optimization tools for brands is next on the development roadmap.

“We’re working closely with brands as design partners to build functionality that is solving their red-hot problems,” Hawkins states. This will include reporting capabilities to empower food brands with transactional data showing how creator marketing campaigns directly drive purchases through the cartd platform.

“If there are any brands reading this that are excited about the mission, we’d love to talk,” Hawkins adds. With his startup, he aims to develop brand-facing features tailored to maximizing the return on social media spend for food marketing.

Upcoming Innovations and Industry Vision

Hawkins is particularly excited about taking cartd’s recommendation engine—affectionately known as “Rex”—to the next level by integrating an AI model that can generate new recipes on the fly based on leftover ingredients. “We want to leverage AI in real-time throughout the consumer shopping journey, recommending recipes that account for dietary preferences and pantry stock.”

According to him, this would allow for more personalized, dynamic recipe recommendations. The retail veteran envisions consumers being able to adjust parameters like nutrition goals or serving sizes and get AI-generated recipes utilizing their remaining ingredients.

Looking ahead, Hawkins sees cartd becoming “the infrastructure layer that connects social media to every European grocery provider.” He believes social commerce for grocery will mature similarly to verticals like fashion and beauty. “We think that social commerce for food is the way that people are going to be grocery shopping in the future.”

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David Adler is an entrepreneur and freelance blog post writer who enjoys writing about business, entrepreneurship, travel and the influencer marketing space.

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