Crisp: online supermarket
Crisp is an online supermarket where you can order fresh food through an app for delivery at home. I work at Crisp since almost the very beginning, I joined as third employee directly after Emiel and Karlien. This was at the time that the founders started the implementation phase, after getting 3 million in funding. I have since worked on setting up the consumer-phasing app, building an internal portal for managing our products/users/suppliers and everything else, worked on tooling for running our warehouse and much more.
Most significant projects I have worked on:
- App launch (user research, navigation patterns, serach)
- Purchasing products from suppliers (crossdock and stockkeeping, based on sales, forecast and expiry constraints)
- Availability in the app
- Shipping label printing (manual -> GoogleCloudPrint -> Zebra Weblink)
- Pick into packaging (picking products directly into the boxes meant for the customer)
- Multi order pick (picking multiple orders at once)
- Recipes (easily order all ingredients of a recipe for the number of portions you need)
- Warehouse moves (went to a bigger place twice)
Below is a timeline of the company itself, growing from a small team with a dream, to the size of today: delivering better food to lots of people.
Planning & funding by the founders
At the end of 2017 and the start of 2018 the founders of Crisp (Tom Peeters, Michiel Roodenburg, Eric Klaassen and René Bink) were busy making plans and searching for investors for this new online supermarket idea. Around February 2018 funding of 3 million euro was secured and they were ready to start. At this point they were looking for people in required fields to run an online supermarked: tech, assortment and logistics.
I had just wrapped up my Master Computer Science at the University of Twente at a company called Staying (see this page), and that company decided to stop, so I was started looking for a job. Through Emiel Mols, which I had already worked with at Staying (and before that at Happening and Paiq), I learned about this opportunity about a new online supermarked startup. At that point it had no name, no office, no employees, only 4 founders, a plan, and funding. After an interview with Tom, and later with Eric, I took the chance and started as a Junior Developer, alongside Emiel who was hired as the CTO. 3 April 2018 I started my first day at an office at the Herengracht 136, where we basically could use 2 rooms through a friend of one of the investors.
Quite quickly after staring, we had set the goal of doing the first deliveries in September of 2018. This meant that we had 5 months to setup an online supermarket from scratch. At this point we were just with a few people, which were starting with the following things:
- René Bink and Karlien Steringa started defining a list of product categories that we will need, and making contact with suppliers, to get a source for all of the fresh produce that we need to fill the shop.
- Eric Klaassen, Emiel Mols and me started with the app for future customers to place orders with. At this point starting with building basic shopping functionality, without much attention to styling (since we did not have a brand name, logo and colors yet).
- Tom Peeters and Michiel Roodenburg started with building a team of the right people, finding out more about our target audiance and generally settting up the business (like actually registering as a business at the government)
- Matthijs van Velzen joined right at the start as well, to setup a warehouse from which we can package and deliver orders. Justin Koekenbier joined soon after that to help him.
Prepare for beta launch
Together with Emiel we started building a react-native app that works on Android, iOS and the web. First there were just clients/users/products in our system, later extended with product categories. At this point we were wondering how we would setup all product and category information, and decided a simple portal to manage those entities would be nice. I had setup a portal we called 'intranet' at the time (now called Kitchen). Later this internal portal would be made ready for the people in the assortment team, so that they could setup all of the products themselves. This has been a key decision about how we will be running the tech team, boiling down to: we faciliate the work of other teams with tooling, so that those teams are in control themselves.
App navigation patterns & design
During the preparations Jelmer Feenstra joined the team as Product Owner and Pieter Hofstra joined as UX Designer. Together with them I have worked on the navigation patterns in the app. We had created a few different ways to browse categories, implemented those in the app (with a toggle to choose between them), and conducted user tests to find out which worked the best. To this day you still find the result of this reasearch in the app: categories show as 1 long list of products, with a quick subcategory selector at the top.
After the basic structure of the app and the intranet portal were complete, the branding side of things was also catching up. Rozsa Groothoff had joined as Art Director, working on our brand. The name was an interesting topic, at some point there were 3 options left, and Crisp was choosen as the winner. After this the general style and color usage was also chosen, and at the app side of things we implemented new designs incorporating the logo and colors.
During this pre-launch period I have also setup a search function for the app. Starting as a simple algorithm that would find matches in product titles based on your search query, evolving to using trigram matching, as-you-type suggestions and more.
About a month before our target launch date of September, we started worrying about how we would actually purchase all products from suppliers. Ideally we would look at the orders in the system, call/email suppliers to purchase exactly that, and get those products delivered to us just before we need to package them. But we quickly found out the reality is much more complicated than this.