Tech forward approach


October 5, 2023 | By Anurima Das

Walid Shabana, Co-founder & CTO (behind) and Ismail Hafez, Co-founder & CBO of Rabbit (front)

Just a few months back, Rabbit, the growing grocery e-commerce platform in Egypt, announced the launch of RabbitAI, a revolutionary AI-powered shopping assistant powered by OpenAI’s ChatGPT technology set to transform the shopping experience for its customers. It may seem like an easy thought, but the whole aspect of AI integration and making it work for the audience isn’t an easy task and requires building the right framework for processes to function seamlessly.

By integrating ChatGPT’s cutting-edge large language model (LLM) technology with Rabbit’s own proprietary AI infrastructure, Rabbit AI offers its users real-time assistance, curated recommendations, and personalized insights that take the hassle out of shopping for groceries and beyond – all free of charge. That’s just one aspect of technology for the brand, but there’s a lot more in store and the whole orientation of the brand rests on a strong technology backbone, which we spoke to Walid Shabana, Co-founder & CTO and Ismail Hafez, Co-founder & CBO of Rabbit.

Building the AI pathway
The new AI model that Rabbit has brought to the front helps predict customers not only the recipes but also the products to cook up the recipe that’s available in the stock. Further, they are also able to recommend product alternatives in case something is out of stock. With the initial launch of this new AI, Shabana says that the customer is now in the discovery phase, and they are trying out the prompts to understand the application with clarity and this is helping the team to also understand what is working and what is not.

But alongside this new AI innovation, Shabana highlighted two important things in order to establish Rabbit’s strong technology prowess, here’s what he mentioned “From the beginning itself we were keen to build our own stack, especially for the core technologies of our instant retail including our warehouse management system, e-commerce platform, last-mile delivery system and dispatching and tracking system. This has interestingly helped us with real-time order tracking. We are always keeping a check on the product catalogue that exists in our inventory as are the customers. This enables us to offer a seamless customer experience. Alongside this, last April we also introduced a tracking system that connects the order mechanism with our riders. This way, the rider is aware of order details and knows their whole day’s delivery plan, incentive score, and much more in real-time”.

Innovating the delivery format
Grocery delivery is a complex mechanism and needs the brand to align with customer needs. That’s why they try to decode customer perceptions and the market in a region-specific way. A data-driven approach and detailed customer segmentation enable them to better understand their customers’ needs and track sales with more precision, hence enabling them to forecast the product needs and accordingly stock items in each area-specific dark store.

“We started with 2,500 SKUs and from the beginning itself we decided that we wanted to win the customer by helping them access freshest products across categories, especially fruits and vegetables. This is because we understand that fruits and vegetables bring in the business and recurring customers, to reorder. As for the remaining categories, we depend a lot on customer POV and keep understanding what they order and when they order. Both help us decide the mix we make available for our customers or recommend them. We also have a section where they can give feedback on their last order. We take these recommendations very seriously and pay a lot of attention to customer behaviour analysis. From feedback forms to order patterns to customer surveys, we quantify everything and send it to the commercial team for understanding and they in turn use the information to plan supplies,” Hafez explained the order mix.

Delighting the customer with the right product mix is just one aspect of Rabbit’s technology-led framework. On the other hand, the brand also puts in place a flexible return policy, product quality assurance, and a unique predictive-loyalty plan as some of its strong points to attract the customer. Hafez here notes that every week they study customer buying behaviour and individually put out certain product discounts to reward their loyalty to Rabbit, highly tailored to their needs and focusing on their favourite products. This helps with customer retention and the customer also gets to see a list of items already ready, on offer for them which they regularly buy. This saves them time and they can click to buy at a discounted price tag.

Even though the concept of shopping online as compared to shopping at a supermarket for groceries is just 20% in Egypt, it is a growing phenomenon. And Rabbit is pioneering the cause and has witnessed over 700K downloads and their customer retention rate is about 50% to 55%.

Managing the delivery
Rabbit initially started with a 20-minute delivery, which remains a customer favourite. Eventually by analysing the customer trends the team realised that some customers may prefer affordability over the convenience of super quick delivery, are more interested to buy at a discounted price, and don’t mind waiting a bit longer in exchange for a cheaper delivery cost. Some may even be okay to receive the order the next day if they’re getting a great deal. This is why the company expanded its services to also offer 60-minute delivery, and Rabbit Gomla, their bulk-buy-and-save option. Here talking about future aspirations, Hafez mentions “Now we have the customer, and we have the base, and we have the app and it’s developed to a great extent. So, right now our priority is to give fuel to vertical and horizontal expansion. We want to understand the customer from a depth and increase our product basket. Eventually, we are also looking to expand into other cities other than Cairo, whether in Egypt or outside of Egypt and expand with categories too”.

Shabana on the other hand speaks about technological advancement and mentions that in future they want to facilitate AI and take it to the next level. “Our next big thing is to make AI work as a shopper assistant and help deliver a personalized experience across the Rabbit app. Predictive AI that helps the customer build their cart quickly and allows them to access the right discounts each time they shop to AI guiding their shopping list by learning their past shopping behaviours is our biggest investment and we look to keep tweaking it to make it more worthwhile for the customer base”.

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