Launched in March 2021, Vejii was created as a one-stop-shop direct-to-consumer site for plant-based food items spanning meat, dairy, and seafood alternatives, as well as a growing assortment of subcategories serving both US and Canadian markets.
In less than a year, the company has learned valuable insights about its core audience, which it's using to drive increased online engagement and purchases of 3,000+ items listed on its site, shared Zelickson.
"We’re really at the forefront of data analysis and understanding which product categories and brands are trending, and it really provides us with the opportunity to expand our offering or look at acquiring assets that would bring synergistic value to the company as well," he told FoodNavigator-USA.
So how are consumers shopping for plant-based foods online? According to Zelickson, it takes a few visits for a new user of the site to make a purchase.
"What we’ve noticed is that it takes several site visits for a customer to place their first order. Also, the first order is typically a test order, and smaller in terms of the overall average value of that basket size. We’ve seen already an increase to repeat purchase rate of over 30% and the average order value has gone from $40 to $80 since the inception of the website," said Zelickson, adding that consumers are using Vejii as a way to discover new brands and round out their plant-based shopping needs.
"Our dwell time on the website is over five minutes, which is beyond industry standards and nearly 100% of our email signups convert to an order within the first month," he said.
'Plant-based shrimp and seafood make up almost 20% of our site’s revenue'
In terms of what consumers are shopping for in the plant-based set, Zelickson said that purchases are fairly evenly spread across meat, seafood, and dairy alternatives but that its seafood items continue to gain significant traction in particular.
"Plant-based shrimp and seafood make up almost 20% of our site’s revenue today," he said.
Responding to demand, Vejii continues to onboard new brands to its marketplace such as Mind Blown Seafood which makes dusted scallops and shrimp products, and Good Catch Seafood best known for its frozen plant-based fish sticks, fish fillets, and crab cakes.
"We’ve really focused on our refining our category strategy to go deeper into sub categories and tertiary categories," he said.
"We’ve also been adding more non-perishable and complementary products to the Veggie Express platform. We want to offer a complete experience."
Asked how it looks at competition from the likes of e-commerce giants Amazon/Whole Foods and retail chains with online shopping capabilities who may have an overlapping assortment of plant-based items, Zelickson said: "I’m a really firm believer that consumers today are far more conscious about the brands that they support and where they purchase. And our customer base is a really like-minded community of consumers who would rather purchase from a company that is more ethically aligned with their own values."
Vejii is constantly working on improving its site to become the go-to destination for plant-based items to make it an easier shopping experience for consumers including improving its search and browse functions and simplifying the online checkout process.
"We look very often at zero search results (key word searches that do not yield any results to understand what shoppers are looking for on the site). We analyze that on a monthly basis, so we can go and procure those products that our customers are looking for," noted Zelickson, adding that the company is in the process of launching a completely redeveloped site with improved features in the next quarter.
In addition, the company is getting "very close" to going public on Canadian Securities Exchange (CSE) which will open up new growth opportunities for the company, added Zelickson.