Boxed, the 'Costco for millennials,' is making big changes to make it easier to shop in bulk online
- Boxed is an online wholesale club.
- It's announcing three new features: AR capabilities for select products, a chatbot, and group ordering.
- The new features are meant to make bulk shopping easier online.
Boxed, the "Costco for millennials," wants to give you options. The online store - which bills itself as the digital version of a buy-in-bulk wholesale club, without the membership fees - is launching a set of new features it hopes will make shopping easier for customers.
First up, Boxed is introducing group ordering, which allows shoppers to send links to others to collaborate on building a shopping cart.
The idea behind group ordering is to have "almost like a Google Doc for shopping," Will Fong, Boxed's CTO and co-founder, told Business Insider.
Checkout will still be done by the basket's originator, but the other collaborators can add and delete items and invite others to help.
Boxed is also adding augmented reality to its iOS app. This will let customers see exactly how large these bulk items are before they purchase them - and judge whether they will fit in their pantry.
The initiative is starting out with 30 products, but Boxed says it could expand based on customer response.
The initiative fits in well with Boxed's core demographic of urban millennial families, many of whom live in a denser area and may not have much space to store bulk items.
Boxed is also launching a Facebook Messenger chatbot as another way to be where customers already are. The bot may suggest reordering items that customers are running out of - which it would know based on a machine-learning algorithm - or to order a new item it thinks they may like based on previous purchases.
The bot, which Boxed named "Bulky," can handle customer service questions like: "What is my order status?"
Boxed will also integrate the bot with the workplace communication platform Slack as it continues to target businesses and the office managers who buy for them.
Tong said these new initiatives are just the start as the company rethinks how to sell bulk items online.
"We have to remind ourselves a lot that the innovation has to be practical and useful for our customers while serving the mission of the company which is helping our customer stay stocked up. There's so many ways that shopping can be improved," Tong said.
"We're just at the tip of the iceberg."