Post his appearance at THINK GLOBAL 2016, Anthony Fletcher, CEO of graze, the agile multichannel retailer of healthy snacks, discusses how he seized the opportunity of international trade,  and launched in the US.

Here at graze our mission is to use technology to create the world’s number one healthy snack brand. We’re not afraid to fail fast or make agile business decisions. We can create a new product and have it on shelves in 48 hours. If it doesn’t work out we just dust ourselves down and try again with something new.

Take our entry into the US for example. After identifying the American snacking and food retail market as the biggest opportunity across the world to scale our business, we decided we wanted to make inroads in this geography before our competitors beat us to it. We recognised that the US market would be difficult to conquer, so we began by studying the approach of other retailers who had entered the market.

We looked at Tesco, who had prioritised lengthy market research as part of their strategy and thought about how we could circumvent this process and instead use technology to gain the vital insights we needed, as quickly as possible. This led us to launching a minimum viable product trial which enabled us to test hundreds of key performance indicators including consumer taste profiles, price, marketing and logistics. The data from the trial allowed us to tackle the entire US market from the get go. Rather than rolling out incrementally across the country like many retailers would have chosen to do, we put our faith in our data and decided to launch in all 50 states at the same time.

Within 24 hours, graze had a customer in every state; within three weeks 30,000 orders had been placed; and by three months we had gained 100,000 customers.

Even after the initial launch we were determined to remain data led and agile. By continuously assessing the tastes of consumers across the US we refined our products and localised our snacks accordingly. As a result over 40% of our products changed from the initial range and we went through at least four barbeque sauce recipes – but we were able to successfully adapt to meet the tastes of our customers throughout the country.

As part of our tech focused strategy we also conducted extensive trials in which we enlisted the help of existing contacts in the US to trial their postal system. We collected data to build a special postal brain to overcome US logistics barriers, which we later also shared with the United States Postal Service to help them optimise their own system and as testament to our data prowess.

However, for me, the key skill which enabled graze to take the US market by storm was our ability to successfully recognise the unique advantages which online expansion can create and our willingness to go after them.

Anthony Fletcher, CEO of graze.