January 28, 2009, 12:00 AM

FreshDirect takes a fresh approach to generating corporate business

FreshDirect is freshening up its corporate strategy with Smart Eating at the Office. The program, which FreshDirect has launched at IAC/InterActiveCorp., gives workers options for making smarter eating choices.

FreshDirect LLC, the web grocery operation serving New York and select suburbs, is going corporate in a bigger way.

Four years ago, FreshDirect, No. 58 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide, began targeting offices in mid-town Manhattan for food delivery and catering opportunities. Now the company has revised its corporate strategy and launched a new program: Smart Eating at the Office. The program, which FreshDirect is rolling out at IAC/InterActiveCorp. and elsewhere, promotes healthy eating habits by providing workers with comprehensive information and options for making smarter eating choices.

Companies in the program receive on-site nutrition seminars, recommended meal and snack lists, and access to a vending machine stocked with healthy foods. FreshDirect began targeting the business market in 2005 after noticing that numerous residential customers asked to have their orders delivered to their work address. “We saw this happening without any direct marketing crossover,” says Larry Pearl, director of business development for FreshDirect at the Office.

Although the company isn’t breaking out specific numbers, sales tied to FreshDirect’s corporate programs are growing at a double-digit rate, Pearl says. One reason the business-to-business side of FreshDirect is attracting new customers is the popularity of vending machines stocked with healthy entrees and snacks. Each machine is linked in real-time to FreshDirect’s customer and supply chain database. With better access to information, FreshDirect is able to keep each vending machine fully stocked with meals workers can purchase and prepare in about four minutes, Pearl says.

Each meal is served with fresh vegetables and pre-cooked entrees that contain about 500 calories. To create restaurant-style entrees, FreshDirect has worked with chefs from well-known New York eateries such as Tabla, Artisanal and Picholine.

Since the corporate program went live in 2005, FreshDirect has signed up 10,000 customers and fulfilled more than 130,000 orders, the company says. “The Smart Eating at the Office program extends the value of the FreshDirect brand to both aspects of the customer’s lifestyle: at home and at the office,” Pearl says.

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