How Phenix is reducing food waste, one meal at a time, with Twilio
Time to read: 2 minutes
Phenix is on a mission to reduce waste of all kinds. This France-based startup enables retailers with unsold food to connect with customers who appreciate sustainability—and a good bargain. Since its launch, more than 50 million meals that would have otherwise been discarded have instead been enjoyed by over 400,000 customers.
Restaurants, grocers, bakeries, caterers, hotels, and other retailers can bundle unsold food at a heavy discount in a themed “basket” of produce, pastries, fully cooked meals, or other items nearing their expiration date. The merchants post what’s available that day, and customers can immediately see what’s for sale near them. Then, via the Phenix app, they simply reserve, pay, and alert the store that they’re on their way for pickup.
It’s a time-sensitive process with many moving parts that need to work together; otherwise, the products will be unusable. Sellers post a general description of each day’s offering, including price, number of baskets in stock, and available pickup window. Retailers might only have a few baskets available, and the pick-up windows can be short. Customers can set alerts so they know immediately when a type of food they want or a specific shop they like has posted an offer.
Real-time communication is at the heart of Phenix's model, and it’s all powered by Twilio.
Real-time messaging with reliable deliverability
Phenix uses Twilio Programmable SMS and Twilio SendGrid Email API to run tens of thousands of daily interactions. Product updates from stores, basket availability alerts, and two-way communication regarding product purchases, cancellations, and pickups are sent to the store and customer via SMS. The store will also receive an SMS if an order has been cancelled, releasing that customer’s basket immediately for purchase by someone else.
Using Programmable SMS empowered the team at Phenix to launch a mobile app in a fast and cost efficient way.
“Development costs and expertise are a big barrier, and we wanted to enter the market quickly,” said Jeanne Latil-Flamme, head of product and country manager for France at Phenix.
Twilio’s system handles the complexity of global regulation governing text marketing, freeing the developers to concentrate on building and scaling the complex product for each country’s unique market.
“From Day One, we’ve had absolutely zero issues,” Jeanne said. “Having direct contact with the Twilio customer success team helped us understand the technical details of how to implement the solution.”
Transactional email messages go out in real-time using Twilio SendGrid’s Email API. Order confirmations and pickup notifications are sent from the store to the customer once the customer has initiated a purchase through the app. As a company with customers in multiple European countries, Phenix took advantage of the fact that SendGrid has libraries that support coding in seven languages. The custom triggers available in SendGrid enabled Phenix to set up multiple sequences of transactional emails that move sellers and customers seamlessly through the real-time purchase and pickup process. With SendGrid, Phenix has a 94 percent average email deliverability, which means more happy customers and greater reduction in food waste.
A customer loyalty program run through the app increases customer engagement while educating users about the benefits of sustainability. As customers make purchases and earn points, they can also track how much money they’ve saved and how much food (in kilograms) they’ve prevented from going to waste.
“Programmable SMS and Sendgrid Email API are core parts of our business, and we would not be able to function without the use of Twilio,” Jeanne said. “Some of our competitors don’t use SMS, and we have customers that have switched to Phenix because we have that immediate communication.”
As much as one-third of the food produced in the world currently goes to waste, and Phenix is committed to reducing that waste to zero. With the support of Twilio, Phenix is leading this battle against food waste, one meal at a time.
“Programmable SMS and Sendgrid Email API are core parts of our business, and we would not be able to function without the use of Twilio. Some of our competitors don’t use SMS, and we have customers that have switched to Phenix because we have that immediate communication”