AWS for Industries

On-demand webinar: Say hello to Yelloh! and learn how Schwan’s Home Delivery (now Yelloh!) is embarking on a rebranding and digital transformation journey

A pioneer in the frozen food industry, Schwan’s Home Delivery was in the frozen food delivery business before it was cool! In fact, when the company started in 1952, it launched with just three things: ice cream, a yellow delivery truck, and a mission to deliver quality food directly to American families.

Since then, the company has grown into a nationwide mobile delivery business with over 300 local fulfillment centers and 3,000 mobile retail stores (a.k.a. its trucks), serving nearly 25,000 zip codes and offering more than 300 curated products. Remarkably, after 70 years of business, Schwan’s Home Delivery is still pioneering.

This year, Schwan’s Home Delivery is making significant changes both inside and out, embarking on a digital transformation journey and rebranding itself.

Kevin Boyum, Chief Strategy Officer at Yelloh!, joined Consumer Goods Technology’s (CGT) webinar “Inside Schwan’s Home Delivery (now Yelloh!) Digital Transformation” alongside Lisa Johnston, Editor in Chief of CGT, and me to discuss how the company is investing in its consumer insights and personalization in an effort to grow and meet the needs of today’s consumers.

Since joining Yelloh! back in 2012, Boyum has held several IT leadership roles and is currently chief strategy officer, where he oversees strategy and long-term planning, as well as day-to-day technology operations.

Transforming to thrive

At Yelloh!, the technology landscape is a “builder culture,” says Boyum, with the company having custom-built practically everything, from its unique mobile point-of-sale (POS) device to its mobile POS delivery mechanism, customer relationship management system, and inventory management system. Now, with rapid digital transformation in its sights, Yelloh!’s top priority is making sure it is using these capabilities and focusing on where it can further innovate to get the most out of its builder culture.

Thirst for innovation is nothing new to Yelloh!. As a matter of fact, innovation is a thread woven into the company’s history. But like any growing brand, people and processes can, at times, get in the way of progress. “We became slow to pivot and slow to take risk. Soon the silos built bigger walls between them,” says Boyum. “Transformation for the sake of technology transformation does absolutely nothing. You must do it for the sake of the business and our end customer—we are customer obsessed. For our business, we are working to transform this unique 70-year-old business so that we thrive for 70 more years,” Boyum says. “Realizing this and working with AWS is what reignited that innovative spirit. Our focus on our customers and our ability to blend technology and business has launched new organizational momentum, helping us move at light speed.”

Data-driven insights to drive better delivery

Data-driven insights (like customers’ household, storage, consumption, and seasonality patterns) are giving Yelloh! the power to cut through “the middle” and consistently be relevant to the customer. By using data, Yelloh! is putting its mobile retail store in the right place at the right time for its customers. In years past, Yelloh! would physically door-knock to drive demand and drive sales. Now, through the help of machine learning (ML) and personalization strategies, Yelloh! is moving from door-knocking to digital door-knocking. “It’s truly a real-time, on-demand mobile retail experience,” Boyum says.

Beyond the end customer, Yelloh! is working to put better data and insights—as well as customer engagement capabilities—in the hands of its route drivers. “The experience for our employees is another unique part of our business. We own our trucks, and our employees are our drivers—our face to the customer. Because of this, we control their experience and the consistency of their experience. It’s essential that we keep them safe and happy,” explains Boyum.

With customers becoming increasingly more mobile, it is challenging to arrive at the customer’s home when they are actually home. Not only is this frustrating, the physical wear and tear on the trucks and their drivers is taxing. For this reason, Yelloh! investigated ways to better match driver stops to customer availability. Yelloh! now uses ML to put its trucks in the right place at the right time for customers, increasing the odds of connecting with customers and making the days much more productive and easier on its drivers. “We win when we’re relevant for our customers and with less waste,” Boyum says. “We have days when we can put one of our drivers in a position to connect with 35 customers but only make about 45 attempts. Six months ago, that number would have been more like 35 out of 75 attempts.”

Embracing the old, embracing the new

“We like to say that we are a 70-year-old startup,” says Boyum. “We’re re-embracing who we were that day 70 years ago, when Marvin Schwan decided to start a business. We’re embracing the spirit of change and, more importantly, embracing the spirit of working together to achieve what’s necessary for the customer,” he says. But that’s not the only thing Yelloh! is embracing. The company is embracing new technologies to improve insights and personalization to expand its current capabilities and, of course, stay both service and product relevant for its customers.

Looking to the future, Boyum says its digital transformation could facilitate Yelloh! offering things like branded products beyond its current Yelloh!-branded products, products based on regions and seasonality, or even refrigerated products, flipping the notion that a 70-year-old frozen food company can’t be more than a frozen food company.

View the CGT Inside Schwan’s Home Delivery (now Yelloh!) Digital Transformation on-demand session.