A new e-commerce site for a B Corp food brand
Simple Feast, the certified B Corporation that offers plant-based meal kits to consumers in Denmark, Sweden and the US, turned to DEPT® to help them deliver a new e-commerce site. As a fellow certified B Corp, DEPT® was perfectly placed to create a digital platform that reflects the sustainability, quality and convenience that Simple Feast stands for.
Simple Feast puts sustainability first
At Simple Feast, the mission is simple: to create the sustainable food of the future. With their well-composed meal kits, they make it both easy and delicious to eat healthy, organic and environmentally friendly. The menus are developed by some of the world’s leading chefs and are delivered in ready-to-go pots, so busy people can easily gather around the dinner table with great food made from scratch.
The food you get in your Simple Feast meal kit is 100% vegan, organic and locally sourced. And the passion for sustainability doesn’t stop there; all the packaging and delivery boxes can be reused again and again.
The challenge: a rebel in the Red Ocean market
Subscription meal kits are a ‘Red Ocean’ market, where the battle to attract and retain customers is continuous and intense. In order to succeed in its mission and champion the sustainability message, Simple Feast had to stand out from the crowd.That’s why it was crucial that the new site conveyed their mission clearly, reflecting their brand identity.
The new site needed to make it clear to customers what they are paying for when they buy a meal kit from the market’s green rebel. Choosing Simple Feast is not just a matter of convenience and quality, it’s also contributing towards a better and more sustainable world.
Another goal of the project was to increase sales of Simple Feast’s ‘Essentials’ product range, which includes plant-based yogurt, homemade granola, and jars of comfort food ready to heat up. So, when building the site, it was important to ensure that the Essentials range was introduced as a natural add-on to the meal kits.
The solution: rebellious and user-friendly
Creative agency Waaitt designed the visual identity which DEPT® then further developed digitally to roll out on the website. The style is strong, bold and unconventional. With its bright colours and crisp fonts, the visual expression communicates precisely the rebellious attitude which is such an important part of Simple Feast’s brand identity.
The site had to be user-friendly and work across Simple Feast’s three markets, Denmark, Sweden, and the US. To reach the right balance between recognisability and rebelliousness, we drew inspiration from best practices in e-commerce and focused on shaking up convention through strong design.
The goal was to create a website that presented Simple Feast as the frontrunners in the food of the future. So we needed to create a design language that cut to the chase and stood out from the crowd. The solution was to turn to raw authenticity. To get to the core of the brand message, we kept the expression straightforward, with grids and images that go all the way to the edge of the page. In other words, we created a site that is just like its brand: simple.
A B Corp brand that leaves a mark
Simple Feast is a bold brand. Their core product isn’t just another meal kit; it is soul food wrapped in ambition and thoughtfulness. And the same now goes for their site.
Together with Simple Feast, we have created a unique digital representation of the brand. The redesign of subpages is still a work in progress, but the mission to make the brand’s activist spirit shine through is already complete.
It’s a pleasure to work with ambitious brands that also care about sustainability. That’s why it’s been great to help another B Corp company, Simple Feast, in their mission to make the world a better place, one meal at a time.
Marie Spliid Kirkegaard, UX Manager at DEPT®
Discover the website
Marie Spliid Kirkegaard
Barilla Pesto Week: Encouraging pasta lovers to purchase pesto
Barilla, established in 1877, is an Italian family-owned food company and the world’s largest pasta producer, that operates in more than 100 countries. The brand turned to FACTOR-A/DEPT®, to help them boost impressions and stimulate sales in the German Amazon Marketplace.
Highlighting pasta’s favourite companion
Barilla is renowned for its delicious and versatile pasta selection but we decided to shine the spotlight in a different direction and developed a unique advertising strategy that featured one of pasta’s favourite companions: pesto.
Pesto Week gave us the chance to focus our advertising efforts on Barilla’s pesto selection, highlighting the variety of options and inventive ways to use pesto, beyond the pasta bowl. The results speak for themselves.
Small focus, big benefit
Barilla is a well-known and trusted brand, but we wanted to introduce their lesser known products to shoppers looking for innovative ingredients, not just for pasta.
Pesto Week was a one-week event composed of a variety of advertising campaigns and deals designed specifically to drive traffic to Barilla pesto products. We focused Sponsored Products and Sponsored Brands campaigns on a set of pesto ASINs (Amazon Standard Identification Number, a unique identifier of 10 letters and/or numbers for a product) and strongly invested advertising efforts into those products for one week.
- Pesto products showed a significant performance improvement during Pesto Week in comparison to all campaigns
- Pesto sales increased more than threefold and accounted for 60% of weekly Sponsored Ad sales during Pesto Week
With the support of FACTOR-A/DEPT®, Barilla was able to maximize their presence on Amazon during Pesto Week. Not only did they see an increase in pesto ASIN figures during this week, but also in overall sales, impressions, revenue and more thanks to the concentrated Sponsored Advertising efforts.
This advertising event demonstrated that brands don’t need to wait for events like Black Friday or Prime Day to build specific campaigns and drive sales. With the help of the advertising experts at FACTOR-A/DEPT®, Barilla gained a 3x sales increase in their pesto products from an event that was all their own.
Merging KFC’s iconic brand with unparalleled convenience
As KFC’s creative technology partner since 2019, we’ve created an omnichannel digital transformation for one of the world’s biggest and best-loved restaurant brands.
We not only overhauled their digital strategy from a creative perspective but also helped build out their new technology – earning one of their Yum! STAR Awards for innovative digital experiences along the way.
Most quick-service restaurants treat their websites as purely transactional moments, assuming that consumers are already converted and ready to order.
For years, KFC was no different.
They let third-party delivery services handle most online orders, while they prioritised in-person experiences to reinforce their brand.
But consumer expectations have been shifting rapidly. They demand more convenience and personalisation than ever before, expecting brands to meet – and exceed – their needs online and on the go. With estimates that quick-service restaurants will be 54% digital by 2025, KFC needed an agency partner to help bring their southern hospitality into the digital age.
They tasked us with crafting an industry-leading customer experience, both in-person and online, that would embody the warm, irreverent personality of their brand while pushing them ahead of their quick-service competitors.
Combining Colonel charm with speed
From innovative drive-thru experiences to a completely revamped website and mobile app, we aimed to help KFC sell more finger-licking chicken by fusing the charm of the Colonel with the speed that modern consumers crave. We used insights from consumer research to overhaul the brand’s entire digital approach.
This meant developing new strategies for their menu architecture and photography, elevating their brand with copy in the Colonel’s unique voice, and delivering both creative and technological support for their new best-in-class experience.
We also created a dynamic design system for a future-proof platform that could scale their brand consistently across all channels.
A convenient and fun website experience
Through insight-driven personalisation, we created an online and mobile experience that was not only more convenient but also more fun.
We added customisation that allowed customers to reorder their go-to favourites again and again, along with a recommendation tool to inspire new cravings based on previous purchases and behaviours.
An app that connects online and in-person experiences
We built KFC’s mobile app from the ground up, creating more connectivity between online and in-person experiences.
New features include progress bars, which help consumers track the status of their orders, and digital ticketing, which enables more seamless pick-up and drive-thru.
We leveraged the brand’s strong visual identity to build a scalable design system with KFC’s personality infused into every element, from the typography to the overall Americana feel.
We also used the brand’s iconic red in tasteful moments that livened up the experience, like key CTAs, and dialled up the deliciousness with close-ups of flavourful food to inspire craving and encourage discovery.
+13% increase in same-store sales
Our partnership has driven large-scale growth for KFC in the US. By designing a more frictionless online-to-offline experience at drive-thru and pickup, we contributed to a 13% growth in same-store sales over a two-year period (2019-2021).
Meanwhile, by reimagining KFC’s website and app experience we contributed to significant digital sales growth while bringing the unmistakable brand personality and voice of the Colonel into new digital territories.
The team also received a Yum! STAR Award for innovative digital experiences.
Head of Marketing US
Tuck into the future of food
Have you ever been unsure as to what you’d like for dinner and are struggling to find local restaurant menus online? Just Eat Takeaway makes that process easier by gathering the menus of all your favourite local places to eat on one website. So it’s not only a solution for customers but also a gateway for restaurants to reach more people.
Using data to help local restaurants
The global online food delivery marketplace started off as a small Dutch brand and has transformed into a global platform that operates in eleven countries and caters to over fourteen million customers annually. To ensure they remained a leading global player, the company decided to accelerate its digital transformation. The result? A new, innovative B2B marketplace which caters to the needs of restaurateurs by leveraging the wealth of data the company has at its disposal.
Elevating the existing design
Aside from enabling consumers to order food online, the food delivery company also has a B2B marketplace which enables restaurant owners to purchase both food and non-food items from third-party sellers. Using the wealth of customer data at its disposal, Just Eat Takeaway wanted its marketplace to become more data-driven. To make this possible, our team needed to enhance the designs of the current marketplace while also migrating the brand’s existing platform of Magento to Commercetools and Prismic. Thanks to Commercetools API-first capabilities, the company could then provide regional insights into consumer demand which could help local restaurants better tailor their menu’s. In addition to local supply, demand and recommendations of all their items.
To do this, we started by conducting a quick but intensive design sprint during which we analysed the customer journey and current pain points for restaurant owners. This led us to create initial sketches of what the marketplace could look like and we refined this based on the company’s current system, their desires and also Commercetools capabilities. This enabled us to implement new features which focused on creating more customer convenience than ever before. Our team also made a number of functional optimisations such as an improved navigation structure and the possibility to quickly re-order items that one purchases frequently rather than having to comb through the entire catalogue.
Catering to the needs of sellers
One of the biggest challenges of rolling out the new B2B marketplace was the complexity of it as sellers have access to their portal through which they can offer their products. So we designed the new setup with a simpler navigation process which enables each seller to easily visualise each order line per restaurant. By implementing Commercetools this integrated Adyen MarketPay which enables restaurateurs to make one payment which is then divided into the accounts of each seller. The integration process was easy as the company had a headless setup which made it easier to connect external channels to the existing commerce environment.
The next steps? Rolling out the new webshop in other countries while catering to each region’s needs while also continuing to optimise the existing platform based on feedback from both restaurateurs and Just Eat Takeaway. These digital innovations help future-proof the company by renewing its position as a leading global food delivery system.
Refreshing an eco-friendly B2B brand website
Bevi is a leading manufacturer of smart water dispensers, incorporating touchless technology that enables you to customise your beverage, check your environmental impact, and view nutrition info right from your phone. Bevi is more than a smart water dispenser, it’s a step towards a more sustainable future. With every drink you pour, you’re not only saving a plastic bottle, but you’re also reducing the oil and emissions needed to manufacture and ship it. Founded in 2014, the company has secured $60.1M in funding and is on a mission to transform how beverages are delivered. Its stand-up and countertop water dispensers are used in the global offices of Volkswagen, Apple, Uber, Trip Advisor, and Netflix, and many more. Bevi partnered with DEPT® to refresh its brand website and bring its values and purpose to the fore.
Strategic brand discovery
Brands rooted in purpose with technical B2B products have a lot to say, but often struggle to communicate their message in the most effective way. how Bevi is perceived as a business has a massive impact on its ability to resonate with prospects and retain long-term customers. Bevi’s brand communications focus on the positive environmental impact its products have, the cool features and broad flavour variety, rather than concentrating on specifics tied to functionality and installation, which sets it aside from its competitors.
DEPT® analysed the business to fully understand its positioning, which informed the next stages of the project. This involved a google analytics review, website audit, competitor research and stakeholder workshops. Deliverables included:
- Map of Bevi’s business model identifying key customer segments, user journeys, channels, partners and more.
- Five customer personas outlining motivations, triggers and content requirements to empathise with the audience’s needs.
Designing a website to unbottle the future
Making an impact with design
The new Bevi website was designed to reflect the brand’s forward-thinking approach to hydration. Taking creative inspiration from the aesthetic of its smart products, DEPT® designers infused the interactive nature of the water dispensers into its website design.
Bevi’s colour palette, resembling the four elements of fire, water, earth, and air, were used throughout. Misty blue and white tones with curved lines created a cloud-like base layer, while splashes of pastel colours showcased the refreshing fruit flavours. Animations bring the design to life; illustrated bubbles rise up the home and flavour pages, as they would in a fizzy glass of water, to create a strong initial impact and draw the user in. hover effects highlight call-to-action buttons and subtle motion elements keep users engaged.
Creating a clear codebase
DEPT® built the website in word press and created a reusable, custom library for all of the components using green sock, a robust java script toolset that helped us deliver optimum performance across all devices. From our analytics research, we knew there is a fairly even split between mobile and desktop users. Therefore, DEPT® developers optimised all points of entry for User experience And conversions with a bespoke set of components and solutions to respond to each screen size. When adding animations and video to the website, we balanced flare and functionality, ensuring smooth user-journeys and fast site-speed to optimise google’s rankings.
Search optimisation was a top priority throughout the build. DEPT®’s team of digital consultants and search experts oversaw the project from a performance perspective, and teamed up with Bevi to fuel the website with Seo-optimised content.
The yoast word press plugin was added to the cms, enabling Bevi to continuously optimise the website as new content is added. Our developers reinforced these practices by implementing schema.Org custom blocks, which adds context to the code, acting as a translator to populate google. By structuring data in sections such as the fa qs, new users searching for solutions are able to easily find the answers they’re looking for.
A sparkling future
Bevi’s new website clearly communicates its vision and brings its value proposition to the surface. It encapsulates the uniqueness of Bevi, and stands out against its corporate counterparts, just like its eco-friendly water dispensers. Eye-catching animations keep users engaged, while the introduction of information and product pages adds depth. Presented in a highly consumable format, these pages not only inspire users to pursue a sustainable future, but also encourages them to find their custom beverage. Users can set their preferred level of fizz, flavour or combinations, and enhance their experience with caffeine or electrolytes. By connecting to a mobile device, its touchless technology makes the entire process seamless.
We’re happy to be part of Bevi’s journey, helping the world reduce waste and plastic consumption through state-of-the-art office water dispensers. DEPT® is continuing to work with Bevi to maintain and evolve its website. Pardot forms were implemented into the website, which will underpin future campaigns and converting prospects.
Growing B2B commerce in the horticultural sector
Florensis is a Dutch based supplier of plant propagation material for professional growers. The second-generation family business established in 1941 has always been known for its advanced growing techniques. Their next step was to digitise their product selection and order process for their clients. This is where DEPT® stepped in to help Florensis take this same tradition of innovation to their online business. Sounds easy, however, successful innovation isn’t solely about implementing the right technology, but also about getting the industry to use and embrace it.
A new way of doing business
Florensis is a global player when it comes to seeds, cuttings and younger plants. They want to respond to their clients’ wishes and give advice on growing and selling young plants using smart solutions. They are also the most disruptive within their industry and enjoy pushing the boundaries of horticulture. Thus, they approached DEPT® to help them establish an online ecosystem which included a whole new website and a client order form, something that was new and unique to the market at the time.
An online ecosystem, something that’s unique in this market
The old fashion way
It used to be that Florensis Account Managers would visit every client and fill out a paper form with what they would like to order. However, this was a tedious and time-consuming process. This is why they wanted an online tool they could use as it would save the company both time and resources. A webshop would allow clients to discover new products, see personalised recommendations based on previous purchases and learn more about specific products and whether they were a good fit for them or not. It would also give both clients and Florensis employees flexibility and more up to date results which could lead to more sales.
Building an online ecosystem
In June 2015, DEPT® launched the first version of the website which included all new visuals of over 4,000 items in addition to text and easy navigation features. The ordering system followed a few months later. When it came to the order form and layout, Florensis wanted a tool that has a similar layout to their current Excel sheet, since employees were familiar with that but more organised and visually easier to navigate. This made building the order form a challenge. Thus, we tested multiple layouts before settling on one. In this first phase, this tool was only intended for Florensis’ own Sales Representatives so we could optimise the interaction based on their feedback. While they were getting acclimated to working with the new platform, we observed and learned from how the employees interacted with it to further improve the project. We then proceeded to use these insights for our ultimate goal: an online store for B2B customers.
In March 2016, Florensis celebrated its 75th birthday. To honour this event, we choose to launch the B2B webshop just before the annual Flower Trials in June so we could ask clients what they thought of it. We then enhanced the website based on the feedback and extensive user data analysis. Thanks to the intensive nature of the collaboration and our expertise in the field of digital marketing, we were able to accomplish a lot in a short period and implement new requests quickly.
The Florensis platform
DEPT® and Florensis collaborated to build a successful e-commerce strategy with a clear focus. We started with designing a new and modernised website for Florensis, available for all formats, which includes over 4,000 products with both texts and photos. We also introduced easy filters which enable people to more conveniently find the right plant when they search the website. The website grew in popularity rapidly and within two years Florensis established their own e-commerce team to better support the influx on customers.
To support the website and Florensis’s digital transformation, a basic order form is now available online for clients so they can easily order young plants and cut flowers. Customers can easily see their orders from previous years as DEPT® imported all past purchase data onto the new digital platform. This allows consumers to duplicate order and make changes for the coming season with just a few clicks. Additionally, in order to increase conversion, clients can order Surplus Products via a separate flow too. With marketing automation, we have targeted mailing campaigns in place to support this.
Lastly, we helped bolster Florensis presence by helping them rebrand both online and offline. This included designing a new logo and variations for sub-brands in addition to online and offline style elements.
A recommender system
After the rollout of their new website, Florensis wanted to continue being proactive and innovative when it comes to their website and the products it showcases to its customers – the growers. With this in mind, they commissioned DEPT® to design a recommender system which will leverage big data and machine learning. It will recommend products that are fully tailored on a personal level and specifically adapted to the tastes and expectations of the customer. Thus, providing the consumer with a selection of products that matches their individual needs in addition to inspiring them.
To make this a reality, DEPT® started with analysing all past order data and applied an algorithm which sorts people based on their previous purchases and browsing history. Based on this information and external data such as the season and plant availability, the computer can give recommendations and will continue to learn and evolve as consumers view or ignore the recommendations. This allows Florensis to, for example, recommend products based on the season, earlier orders and click behaviour on the website/shop. This feature is still being tested before being implemented across all website pages. However, at first glance, it has lead to a double-digit increase in conversions.
The new website gives consumers the ability to order young plants and cut flowers directly resulting in 141% uplift in organic traffic, +479% uplift in mobile traffic, 500% uplift in returning mobile traffic. The average sessions duration also increased by 48%. Online sales rapidly became more popular than offline sales, breaking the assumption that complex and personal B2B processes are not suitable for e-commerce platforms.
We created a service environment for clients allowing them to plan and order all Florensis products and track their orders. The environment is connected with the industries’ standard back-office system PAT and is continuously improved. We also developed a comprehensive order form making it much easier for Sales Representatives to submit orders, saving the company time and resources. Lastly, we gave Florensis a Digital Asset Management tool allowing them to easily send and share high-resolution images with clients who use them for marketing purposes via one link.
The collaboration is still ongoing as we continuously improve the webshop. The next step is enhancing the platform architecture resulting in improved stability and flexibility in addition to rolling out the recommender system across all pages of the website.
See more about our horticulture and agriculture expertise here.
Client Development Director
Crafting a website worthy of food for thought
It’s said that a picture is worth a thousand words. This is why AVINA Stiftung chose to redesign their website in a more visual manner in order to convey the importance that change must happen in our food chain by supporting forward thinking ideas and pioneering minds.
A website meant to inspire action
AVINA is a Swiss foundation established in the 1990s that funds ideas aimed at revolutionising our current food system. The foundation turned to DEPT® to provide them with a central hub through which pioneers could find out more about the foundation and apply for grants. Based on the foundation’s manifesto, we redesigned the entire website and produced two videos that project AVINA’s message to the world.
Transforming the brand identity into digital elements
Our source of inspiration for this project was the foundation’s logo and brand identity. Some of their core values are transparency and openness. These were the two themes which guided our design choices moving forward. We also purposefully chose to keep our design minimalistic which is why it consists of only a handful of pages. This way, a user can quickly understand what AVINA stands for and then apply for a grant with little fuss or obstacles.
A design that goes against the norm
A user may be surprised as to the darker colour palette, however, this was done on purpose to go against the norm. Rather than a white minimalistic site with a lot of text, the black background is a bold move that highlights all of the typography while also ensuring that the video content pops and entices website visitors to click on it. In addition, the cursor is a circle to symbolise the circularity which AVINA is aiming for.
The core of the website
The heart of the new website is the AVINA manifesto. This is what guided our production choices when filming the videos. We travelled around Switzerland to get footage from some of the leading research institutions, capture breathtaking nature shots as well as scenes from everyday life. The video plays simultaneously to a recording of the founder Stephan Schmidheiny reading AVINA’s manifesto.
When a user lands on the AVINA homepage, both videos will play and depending on how the user navigates either one or the other will be displayed to the user. The two clickable and changeable video layers showcase AVINA’s openness and transparency and invites the user to look behind the scenes.
Inspiring and guiding users towards a better world
AVINA Stiftung wanted a new platform that inspired change. Therefore, we delivered a new website which captures this desire and makes it tangible. We created a simple website whose appearance makes a bold statement yet remains simple to navigate so as to not overwhelm the user with information. Crafting a website worthy of food for thought doesn’t have to be difficult, in fact, sometimes simplicity is the answer.
SEO-success through customer orientation
Swissmilk has been asserting itself as Switzerland’s most successful recipe platform for many years. In terms of search engine optimisation (SEO) hardly any topics are more competitive than recipes – and few areas rely on SEO as a traffic source more than recipes.
The Swiss Milk Producers (SMP) and DEPT® achieved a good positioning for Swissmilk despite the increasingly tense atmosphere. In doing so, the optimisation of organic search results as traffic channel nr. 1 was the highest priority. Throughout the last years, this project’s biggest success factor was the consistent alignment with the users’ needs.
Swissmilk asserted itself as Switzerland’s largest recipe platform
SMP is the parent organisation of the Swiss Milk Producers, which is primarily working on the promotion of Swiss milk and associated milk products. In this context, SMP also runs Switzerland’s largest recipe database on Swissmilk. The content comprises of recipes containing milk products and tips and tricks around culinary art and nutrition.
Until summer 2016, a desktop and a separate mobile website were run simultaneously. SEO established itself as the most important traffic channel: more than half of the overall traffic between 2016 and 2017 was generated via organic search results. Because of this, it became more and more important to measure the incoming SEO traffic also based on qualitative criteria, meaning the quality of the content interaction. Especially when it comes to recipes, search engines increasingly operate with particularly highlighted illustrations such as the Rich Results comprising of, among other things, the Rich Snippets, Featured Snippets and Knowledge Graph integration in search results.
Swissmilk is operating in a highly competitive market environment with numerous competitors such as Chefkoch.de, Betty Bossi and Annemarie Wildeisen. In 2017, the competition expanded by the recipe platforms belonging to the two leading retailers in Switzerland – Migros with “Migusto” and Coop with “Fooby”.
The share of mobile search queries has risen dramatically over the past few years when it comes to recipes. Many people experience “micro-moments” and automatically turn towards their phone when they have the urge to act, learn, try or discover something new. At the same time, search engines have tightened the demands for the mobile user-friendliness of websites. The necessity for Rich Snippets, Featured Snippets etc. is further shaping the requirements for content creation.
Another point to consider is the decrease in milk consumption in Switzerland due to the trend of alternative nutrition forms, such as low fat or vegan alternatives and the increase in food sensitivities such as lactose intolerance.
By focusing on these micro-moments, targeting was narrowed down, the content was reviewed and the KPIs were refined. SEO efforts were not primarily aimed at increasing traffic but at the optimization of the usage intensity of content (e.g. session duration, scroll intensity, download, print) as well as the increase in high-quality traffic. The SEO efforts were built around the idea of usability principles and the improvement of content interaction.
An analysis of current food trends revealed which content bears the biggest potential for traffic. Based on this, the recipe texts were reviewed and edited as needed. Furthermore, the library of recipes was expanded based on a targeted data-driven approach.
In order to differentiate between the target groups, the Blog Chochdoch was established to target a younger audience than Swissmilk . It posts recipes and videos as well as kitchen and culinary life hacks. In summer 2016, the switch to a responsive website with ongoing page speed optimization, server caching, image compression and deferred loading was implemented.
Organic traffic increase
- 36% traffic increase due to organic search results within two years.
- Extension of visibility in organic search results despite the market entry of fooby.ch and migusto.ch.
- Prominent positioning through Rich Snippets and Featured Snippets in organic Google search results.
- Google Page Speed Insights Score Mobile of recipe pages with 94/100 points and a Google mobile speed rated as “Good”.
- Differentiated KPI set with a focus on usability and strategic objectives: organic quality traffic for recipe content: > 25% compared to last year.
Supporting farmers every step of the way
By 2050, there will be nearly 10 billion people on Earth, which is about three billion more mouths to feed than there were in 2010. Given the economic and environmental costs of current industrial agricultural practices and volatile weather conditions, one can’t help but wonder if we will be able to produce enough food to sustain our population in the future. Recognising this, Indigo AG wants to increase our planet’s capacity to produce food in a sustainable manner. The company leverages powerful microbiology, machine learning and digital technologies to make agriculture more productive, profitable, and sustainable.
Supporting a complex lifecycle
Indigo’s microbial seed treatment collection has the capacity to protect crops from abiotic stresses – from extreme temperatures and water scarcity, to nutrient-deficient soils. By increasing a plant’s resilience in tough environmental conditions and enhancing the use of resources such as water, the treatments have the potential to naturally improve yields and increase farm revenue. However, Indigo’s ambitions go way beyond seed development. The company is supporting farmers every step of the way from planting to crop harvest, delivery, and payment. DEPT® has played a role in helping to create the software which enables this complex lifecycle.
Supporting farmers every step of the way
Indigo Marketplace helps growers navigate the grain market with confidence. It helps buyers access high-quality, identity-preserved crops that meet their specifications. Buyers on this platform are able to source grain with a range of characteristics (eg. protein content, milling quality, variety), and production practices (eg. organic, rain-fed, non-GM). Growers are able to access a suite of tools and services to support their grain marketing efforts. Transacting digitally, both growers and buyers can increase efficiency and access a larger market through Marketplace.
DEPT® worked with the Indigo team to design and build the company’s Marketplace digital platform, which helps better connect farmers with buyers.
Once Indigo Marketplace was in place, crops still needed to be transported from point A to point B. DEPT® helped Indigo build Indigo Transport to pair growers and grain buyers with carriers (trucking companies), for the efficient transport of grain. Growers can opt to leave the hassle of logistics to Indigo Transport while carriers experience a seamless and supported way of finding new loads.
Beginning with just the idea of building an ecosystem to help farmers ship grain more economically, the DEPT® team worked with Indigo to launch the minimum viable product (MVP) for Transport in just four months. Indigo worked with DEPT® to launch Transport with an app focused on owner-operated trucking companies, while continuing to conduct user interviews to learn about what was and wasn’t working.
A key learning when rolling out the MVP for owner-operators was that other personas outside of the initial set could use and get value from the system. As part of a 5-day design sprint led by DEPT®, several other critical personas were identified within the shipping ecosystem that could be supported by Indigo Transport, including dispatchers managing fleets of trucks, shippers managing other agricultural commodities that need to be delivered, and individual drivers delivering the necessary loads. To better serve a range of users, DEPT® worked with the Indigo team to build out the app to fit these different personas in the transport journey.
Today, growers can select to use transportation services when transacting grain on the Indigo Marketplace app. Should they choose this option, their shipment is displayed in the Transport app so that carriers can see the load opportunity. The Transport app includes portals for shippers to input their needs into the system, and the carrier app is geared towards those transporting grain.
Indigo also partnered with DEPT® to help create a custom solution for farmers to quickly and painlessly settle complex contracts. The teams worked to design custom back-office tools to support Indigo’s accounts receivable and accounts payable teams.
Supporting all of this is a powerful platform that orchestrates the logistics to make sure crops are delivered to the correct place, on time, and in a compliant manner. With Indigo Transport, carriers can expand their business opportunities through easier access to more loads, and farmers and shippers can deliver grain with more confidence.
Planning for the future
Indigo is continuously capturing data from fields around the world in order to research how current crops are performing given a variety of factors, such as drought, extreme heat, insects, poor soil, etc. This data comes from many sources, such as drone and satellite imagery, data directly from combines or from their own agronomists collecting results. All of this information is funnelled into a Machine Data Factory (MDF) that helps Indigo’s scientists have an overview of crop performance across the world, in addition to helping inform how to bring new products to the market.
The company needed to be able to track this data and easily visualise what was and wasn’t successful, while ensuring the privacy of the company’s customers. Our team of specialists assisted with building the front-end of this database, a user interface that allows employees to interact with the anonymised data. The users get details about any tests that were performed and the current status of a particular field. This allows Indigo scientists to easily see which experiments performed well and which didn’t on a global scale.
From grain bidding to transport to payment for crops, DEPT® has supported Indigo to build multiple apps and platforms.
Within the first few months, Indigo Marketplace saw significant traction with thousands of growers and buyers utilising the platforms. In January 2019, Indigo Marketplace saw $4B in average daily bids over a 30-day period. In December 2019, average daily bids hit $51B over a 30-day period, a 1175% increase.
Today, at every step of the way, farmers have more options, processes are more efficient, and Indigo scientists have more information at their fingertips to help drive future innovations in agriculture that will be critical to feeding people for years to come.
Using the power of technology for a good cause
What do you get when you bring digital and tech together with a good cause? A digital marketplace where donors are linked to African farmers, who shovel life back into the barren soil.
The climate is one of the major concerns of this generation. Realising this, Justdiggit trains people in areas of drought to dig half-moon circles in which rainwater is collected. This process of ‘greening’ ensures that the land will be fertile again within a year, something that is vitally important for the local population and which, on a larger scale, the whole world can benefit from.
Climate change is one of the major concerns of this generation
Spreading the knowledge
Justdiggit focusses on spreading their knowledge all the while empowering locals to organise and carry out the work themselves under the guidance of fundi’s, the local rangers. In order to have a lasting and positive effect on the climate, Justdiggit needs to fertilise as many hectares of land as possible, something it simply cannot do by itself. They believe that empowering the local population is a sustainable solution.
Justdiggit asked DEPT® how technology could help them achieve their goals. As we’re committed to making a change, the agency is a breeding ground for social and sustainable initiatives. So within DEPT®, a team was put together to give a helping hand.
In a strategy and design sprint, the team designed a platform where farmers who want to dig holes in a qualifying area are linked to people who want to sponsor them. Research showed that many of the farmers in African villages are well connected. They completely skipped landlines and ADSL and take care of a lot of business mobile. For example, over 40% of the population of Tanzania does their banking via M-Pesa, which amounts to 95 million mobile money transactions per month.
People in the West can easily donate money through Ideal and in the background, a system automatically connects the donations to all the farmers who are allowed to dig in a qualifying area. Once a hole has been dug, it is captured with a photograph. The donor receives the photo and the transaction overview. It is a fair system and a perfect example of cutting out the middleman, where Justdiggit is purely the facilitator.
The marketplace/app works as follows:
- People in the West can easily donate money through Ideal.
- In the background, a system automatically connects the donations to all the farmers who are allowed to dig in a qualifying area.
- Once a hole has been dug, it is captured with a photograph. This photo is approved by a fundi, who acts as a kind of overseer, and then the transaction is made.
- The donor receives the photo and the transaction overview. Digging a hole costs €3,64, of which €2,02 goes to the farmer (55%). The rest of the money goes to the purchase of seeds (27%) , the salary of the fundi (5%), transaction costs (5%) and the protection of project areas against overgrazing by cattle (8%). It is a fair system and a perfect example of cutting out the middleman, where Justdiggit is purely the facilitator.
The most important quantitative goals of the platform in 2019 were to raise the average donation height. Our prognosis was that the combination of complete transparency of the chain and higher engagement by use of messenger and/or the platform would make this happen.
This worked out: the particular donations via the platform is now €34,35 per benefactor; that’s almost three times than the regular online donation to Justdiggit before the launch of the tool. This was far above expectations, especially when you keep in mind there’s been no paid media involved.
Global SVP Technology & Engineering
Stay in touch!
Personalize your experience