Inabuggy uses AI to fight big guys in grocery delivery war

The Canadian company taps tech to compete against American giants like Instacart and Amazon.

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The grocery delivery market in Canada is a highly competitive space, meaning smaller companies like Inabuggy need to use every tool in their toolbelt to compete – which these days means AI.

Canada’s largest food retailer, Loblaw, partnered up with Instacart in 2017, while Empire (which owns the Sobeys and IGA banners) launched Voila this May. Then there’s Amazon, which now owns Whole Foods Market. A Nielsen Canada report predicted online FMCG number would rise to nearly $6 billion in sales in Canada by 2020.


To compete for a piece of that pie against these Goliaths, smaller Davids like Inabuggy – which currently serves the Greater Toronto Area, Ottawa, the Greater Vancouver Area, Calgary and Montreal – are using machine learning technology to improve the experience for both the retailers they work with, ranging from big-box retailers like Coscto and Walmart to independent, high-end stores like Summerhill Market and McEwan. It also has benefits for its customers, says CEO Julian Gleizer (pictured above).

Currently, the Canadian company has two data scientists who sift through reams of customer data and analyze that information to help stores ensure they always have popular items in stock (which in turn leads to satisfied customers who can get the product they want when they want it), explains Glezier. While attracting customers is important, just as important is retaining customers who may cancel if a favourite item is not available, he notes.

The company, which offers customers the opportunity to order goods through either a smartphone app or online via its website, started ramping up its investment in AI technology and data analysis in the past few months, says Glezier. It has also started offering more directed e-coupons to customers, who have responded well to improved targeting and personalization of the offers, he says. Digging deep into data means gleaning not only what customers are buying, but how often they are buying it, as well as frequency of purchases and how they respond to couponing, points out Glezier.

“We’ve married our platform to our logistical infrastructure,” says Glezier. “We’ve learned the smarter and more robust our technology is the better experience our customer receives.”

Since Inabuggy started (which launched as Instabuggy in 2015 before rebranding last year) using AI to send more targeted offers and emails to its customers, Glezier says satisfaction rates have risen. The CEO says investing in technology, from having data scientists on staff to using AI programs, is key to attracting and retaining customers in such a competitive sector.

“From [our] perspective it’s really about satisfying the customer,” says the CEO. “And if you can satisfy the customer through the AI and machine-learning service and fulfillment rates then you’ll really have loyal customers.”