This was our biggest week of 2022 so far, fellow futurists.
The biggest news of the week: Instacart cuts its valuation 38%, while simultaneously maintaining its commitment to an IPO.
How we think about Instacart has changed. You’d be forgiven to think of it as a just-in-time workforce last-mile delivery solution. With the growth of its ad network, it has also become a formidable marketplace — CPGs and DTCs alike use it for new customer acquisition — and that growth has also made it into a powerful data and analytics platform. Brands can now perform regional price elasticity testing with tight feedback loops.
Let’s be real. Retail is continuing to grow, but eCom is slowing due to inflation, supply chain issues, labor shortfalls, and of course reopenings. We predicted this in October 2021 in our Nine by Nine report. Retail foot traffic seems to be picking up, and that causes a dip in the convenience of digital-first purchases.
Instacart isn’t taking the shift lying down. Like others, it looks to provide general eCommerce services now as a channel for growth. This week Bay Area delivery giant is piloting direct-to-consumer fulfillment and traditional logistics for brands looking to make the move online. I.e. they’re going full-blown eCommerce and expanding their offerings beyond same-day delivery; providing a set of offerings for brands needing a site and micro-fulfillment.
This has been done before. Shifting customers' perception of the brand beyond “I want it now” to “traditional online shopping” will be tricky. Stitch Fix recently launched “shop anytime” flexibility (we just call this eCom) with as-of-yet-unproven results. But Instacart has a specific competitor in mind: Amazon. Their offering will target grocery; a category that Amazon has yet to establish dominance in.
Same storm, different boat. The last round of investment was a $265M round in March 2021, which included A16Z, Sequoia, Fidelity, and T. Rowe Price, among others. That round would be priced at $100M based on today’s news. As the rest of the tech industry deals with the stock market pullback, private market valuations are now following suit. Instacart is not alone in this.
If you wanna read more about Instacart, check out our friend Kiri Masters book, Instacart for CMOs, which we believe is the definitive guide. Get it here.
That was a pretty good day. Bill Murray is releasing an NFT collection, each of which will feature a unique story of his life. The NFTs will be in partnership with The Chive.
Clay-nation. Move over quilt-core, small batch ceramics are the newest revival craft craze to take over. Multiple ceramicists are releasing astonishingly high-priced limited run pieces that sell out in 5 minutes online. Buyers are obsessed. Not like Rae Dunn obsessed. Like sneakerhead obsessed.
More Sights & Sounds. Instacart has added a new feature that officially makes them a hosted omnichannel commerce solution. Uber is taking the “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em” approach and is going to list New York taxis in its app, and Uber shares are up on the news. Instagram has launched a chronological feed view for mobile. Google Search has partnered with CVS and will soon enable users to book medical appointments. Google will also provide an alternate payment option in the Spotify app starting later this year. Gamestop has been hit with a $30 million lawsuit from Boston Consulting Group over an alleged refusal to pay fees. And Apple is working towards subscription services for hardware, such as iPhones and iPads.
AI Grocery Shopping. Kroger has partnered with NVIDIA, a computing company, to include artificial intelligence apps in their shopping experience. They plan to build a state-of-the-art AI lab in Cincinnati, where Kroger’s headquarters reside.
“Don’t try this at home” This guy made his own Invisalign trays to straighten his teeth and circumvent the cost of going to the dentist. In the same way crafters think: “why pay $3,000 for Invisalign installed by a licensed and trained doctor, when I could pay $10,000 for a 3D printer and a dental-specific machine, to change the bone structure of my mouth with no knowledge of how it affects my soft tissue and overall tooth root stability?” — this guy, probably.
Driven by the McNugget Sauce. McDonald’s is re-dropping its Szechuan Sauce for a limited time and is available only for orders using their mobile app. We all know this is a gimmick to make people download the app, but in the grand scheme of the series arc, Rick and Morty fans—rejoice!
Syrupy soda. Pepsi and IHOP are partnering up to bring us all what we haven’t been waiting for: Pepsi Maple Syrup Cola. Mmm. Can wait.
More Palate news. Sweetgreen is planning to open its first drive-thru, known as “Sweetlane.” The restaurant will be located in a suburb of Chicago. Kellogg’s is releasing three new frosted flakes flavors this May: Strawberry Milkshake, Cinnamon French Toast, and Chocolate.
BNPL expansions. In the light of rising gas prices, Texaco and Chevron are now part of a partnership with Klarna, allowing users to buy gas (and snacks) in installments. How long before we see a venture-backed gas subscription app with a secondaries market?
Ukrainian Aid. The White House has pledged $1B in aide as well as rolling out the welcome wagon for 100,000 Ukrainian refugees to enter the United States. A timeline has not yet been established.