October's company update: Customer feedback.
October 22th 2018
As you might have seen, we recently started our Queal "Improvements Timeline". With this timeline, we want to keep you updated about both our past improvements and milestones as our current decisions and future steps to take. Every month from today on, we’re going to write an update on this but today we’re starting with a more general explanation.
To give you more of an overview on how we started and which steps can be classified as important milestones, we recently decided to form the data of all of our weekly reviews into readable texts. You can now take a look at everything that happened from the beginning of Queal in 2014 up until august of 2018 in our Improvements Timeline.
After finishing this, we started formulating the things we’re currently working on and the things we want to go working on. We frequently have real-time conversations with our customers over the phone, during so called customer calls. Also, we often ask you guys questions through the customers dashboard. So, a huge pile of data was available for this.
A lot of awesome suggestions and topics came across, on which we will surely be working the coming time. A few examples are:
- More transparency when it comes to our supply chain
- Hot meals
- Eco friendly packaging
- Dashboard improvements such as making it faster and mobile-friendly
If you want to have a look at all future points of improvements, we now added them to our timeline too. We hope reading them will get you as excited as we are!
During the analysation of this data we also came along a lot of requests that aren’t currently on our list or never will be. We found it important to not only tell you about the content of these request, but also tell you the whys behind our decisions. Don’t get scared by the length of this upcoming list, it’s just that we have such awesome concerned, engaged customers with lots and lots of suggestions and ideas and, unfortunately, we can’t approve them all.
Single serve - We currently provide our customers with three meals in one bag and we will stick to this amount for the time being. The main reason for this is, that in this case, we should determine what one serving of Queal needs to be. Earlier answers retrieved from our customer base showed us that the definition of "one meal" differs for one another. As shown on the "customise page", we want to encourage our customer base to find out what their perfect meal size would be by using the scoop vs. calorie counter. We define a meal as 700 kcal, but you are free to adjust the servings to you liking. Other reasons for not switching to single serve packaging are because we don’t want to use more packaging than we use now and also producing single serve pouches would result in a complete new production line.
Bulk packaging - Bulk packaging beats single serve packaging when looking at the given answers on our customer dashboard. In a short period of time, we will add more questions to the dashboard to find out what the main reason is why there’s need for bulk packaging: environment, price or because it will make it easier to take the scoop and powder out.
At this point we’re stuck to our 3-meal pouches for a while, but we will dig into the possibilities. Also, our newest product - the Instant Oats - will already come in bulk packaging.
Checkout in own currency - We sell our products in Euro’s (€), but have a feature on the website to show all prices in a variety of other currencies, using that day’s conversion rate, if so desired. We’ve had a few reports from customers that mentioned their payment transfers were higher than our cart page shows. This is due to an additional exchange fee their bank charges, to exchange from e.g. USD to EUR.
We’ve researched whether there’s a way to have those exchange fees be charged to us, instead of the the payer, but this was not possible. We’ve also researched whether we could be paid in each separate currency instead of EUR, but this was also not a workable solution. Finally, we looked into clearly indicating an estimated charge for the exchange fee, but this seems widely differ between banks and currencies.
Because we’re only talking about a very slight difference in total price (<€1.- most of the time), we clearly indicate the actual price in EUR on the payment page, and the above researched solutions were not feasible, we’ve decided to maintain the current situation without change.
Connection Swedish Store & Dashboard We are working together with a few partners for the areas where Queal isn’t that widely known. These partners are listed here. They are independent resellers of Queal and that means we won’t be integrating our webshop with theirs.
If you live in one of the countries services by them we do recommend ordering there for better shipping (saving multiple days) and customer service in your own language. But you’re still free to order with us of course.
Physical locations - One of Queal’s strengths is our connection with our customers. We believe that with our webshop we are able to best serve you and give you the best experience possible. We can answer your questions directly, help with shipping, and ask for feedback.
Selling in physical locations (e.g. retail) is something we do consider and believe is a way to reach an ever broader audience. But at the moment we are, and will stay, a digital-first company.
Turn first order retroactively into subscription to get second renewal benefit - When you take out a subscription currently, the first month costs the same as a ‘normal’ order. Only from the first renewal onwards does a subscription discount (±7% off) apply. We’ve had a few requests of this discount being applied to the first month, counting a previous one-time order as the ‘first month’ of the subscription.
Part of going through the checkout, when ordering a subscription, is the process of accepting terms and giving permission to allow us to process automatic renewal payments. It is not possible to do such a thing retroactively, as it requires a new transaction.
Having said that, we are looking into overhauling our whole ‘discounts’ system (including the subscription discounts, but also including the 5% and 10% bulk discounts) to make it less confusing and nicer for our returning customers. This may be combined with our Queal Points loyalty system, we’re honestly not sure about the specifics yet.
Change name - Let’s be honest, Queal is a difficult name to pronounce. But as much as we’ve heard the suggestion to change our brands name, we love it and will stick to it. Why? Well.. because it’s perfect! Queal is created out of the words ‘quick’ and ‘meal’ (think of this whenever you have trouble writing or pronouncing the next time) and quick meals are exactly what we’re selling ;)
To make it slightly easier to talk about Queal we recently (at our rebranding) decided to focus more on the product names instead of our company name. Therefore our product line-up has been changed from shakes, bars & nootropics to Steady, Go, and Flow! You might have noticed that our brand name is also less visible on the Steady pouches.
Long term medical studies - Queal has become a staple meal for many of our customers. Many use it for 1 or 2 meals per day and some even for most of their meals (for more see our annual survey). Over the last 4 years we’ve had many questions about what the long-term effects are and what studies are available.
We are not able to provide you with an independent study of the long-term effects of eating only Queal for an extended period of time. The first reason is that we don’t advise people to eat only Queal for all of their meals. Although it’s possible, we see that most people also enjoy eating food together and cooking a meal can be a great way to relax (eating fast food on the other hand, we’re not so positive about).
Another reason why we’re not doing a long-term study is that we will not be able to be impartial in doing this study. In that regard we think it’s best that it would be done by an independent/governmental organisation. We’re not aware of long term studies of Complete Foods at the moment.
Last, but not least, we do like to highlight that Queal is made of natural ingredients like oats, soy, sunflower oil, etc. We add some vitamins and minerals (and look at their bioavailability) to make each meal complete. Although some of our ingredients are somewhat processed, we believe that it’s more natural than many things we can buy in the supermarket.
We do encourage you to listen to your body and observe the effects of Complete Foods on yourself. Each body is unique and we hope that we can have a great meal to offer you.
Agile cheaper - Some people asked us why our Steady Agile meal shakes are more expensive than the Standard variation, despite containing lesser kilocalories. While we admit that it might seem a little odd indeed, there’s a reason behind it.
First of all, we’ve developed a very own Agile vitamin- and mineral mix, as you won’t meet all of your RDA’s with “only” using less of our Standard powders. Then, Agile is sold less and therefore is produced in smaller batches, which is - in ratio - more expensive than the production of Standard.
Limited editions in different diet types - We aim for at least one Limited Edition per month. Some of our customers wondered why we don’t offer any Limited Editions in other diet types like Agile, Athletic or Vegan. The reason behind this has to do with economy of scale. Our Limited Edition runs are, compare to our regular production runs, quite small. When we also want to offer these Limited Editions in other diet types it will be very hard to make it profitable. Also, when we stick to the same MOQ as our standard Limited Editions for other diet types it will probably take more than a month to sell out completely.
RTD - At Queal we want to make smart and accessible nutrition available to as many people as possible. A ready-to-drink (RTD) is a complete meal that is already pre-mixed and may be even easier to use than mixing a (powder) meal. But we believe there are three big downsides to RTD’s
The first is the cost of the meals. Because of the pre-mixing, pasteurizing and other processes, the meals (for now) can’t be competitive with powder-based Complete Foods.
The second is that by making an RTD, you are essentially shipping water around the world. This also adds to the costs and is not in line with the sustainability we want to achieve.
Thirdly we believe that (at the moment) RTDs don’t provide the nutritional mix that we believe is optimal for you.
Size of Go bars - In customer calls and though the dashboard we’ve heard suggestions for both increasing the size of our Go bars as for providing as smaller option. We’ve discussed these options multiple times but eventually came to the conclusion of sticking to the current size.
The reason for not choosing smaller Go bars or even Go “nibbles” is because we want to provide you with a meal and the current amount of kilocalories is already a smaller meal than the recommended sizes for our Steady shakes.
We will also not offer larger bars because the current bars are already a complete meal for many (especially in the morning). We think it’s more of a shame to throw away a part of a larger bar than having to open two bars in one sitting (although only our CEO has been known to do this sometimes).
Specific dietary needs - We have received many request regarding specific dietary needs like keto/low carb, low calorie, low in sugar, gluten free, more protein et cetera. Our meals are complete, which in our opinion means that we stick to the European guidelines of the recommended daily intake of micro- and macronutrients. All adjustments we make would result in a product not conforming our goal. We will maintain our focus on complete recipes and will not produce any specific (other) diet types.
Unfortunately, we cannot make our products gluten-free because in our factory there are also products being processed that contain gluten.
Flow samples and/or smaller jar - We’ve learned that the current size and price of our Flow jars can be a threshold to try it out. Multiple customers asked us to produce Flow samples or to offer it in smaller and/or cheaper jars.
Although we fully understand this, we’ve decided to stick to the 30-servings jar because of its cost efficiency: a smaller jar would not necessarily mean a lower consumer price as the jar itself, the filling and transportation-costs are still there.
However, we still liked the idea of offering our customers an opportunity to still try it in a low-threshold way. Therefore, we’ve decided to temporarily add Flow to our Steady shakes with our Limited Edition “Rad Raspberry Flow”. With this shake, you can both enjoy a meal and experience this nootropic’s effects.
Pick delivery date and time + Pickup points - We’ve had a few requests to be able to pick the delivery date/time, or shipping to a pickup point. We did look into this, but it isn’t all that easy to accomplish. Not all shipping providers we use offer such services. And those that do, require specific IT integrations, which in themselves require development time, and some even require a monthly fee just to get access to the required APIs. All in all, this is too much of a niche feature to dedicate resources to at this time.
Saturday delivery - For the days on which deliveries are made, we are wholly dependent on the shipping company in the country you live in. For example, in The Netherlands we use PostNL, which delivers Tuesday to Saturday (i.e. order on a workday, receive it the next day). Other shipping companies, in other countries, may deliver Monday to Friday, or even Tuesday to Friday. This is not something we can change, sorry.
Better US shipping options - For the foreseeable future we will ship all orders from our EU warehouse. We are subsidising most of the costs of shipping, but unfortunately individual orders are quite expensive to ship overseas. This means that we won’t have a quicker US shipping option available. If we do open a warehouse in the US we will let everyone know via the US email list and on all socials.
Lower shipping costs - We are always looking for the best deals, when it comes to picking our shipping partners. Wherever possible, we choose the cheapest shipping company, upgrading where necessary to a higher value company when the quality of a company is too low. We already work at a loss when it comes to the shipping costs we ask of our customers. Shipping B2C across borders is a costly enterprise. I can absolutely promise you we are not making any money off of it, and we would certainly lower it if at all possible.
We hope you will understand out motivations and hopefully it doesn’t encourage you to keep throwing ideas at us. We read and listen to all your suggestions via the dashboard and customer calls one by one, so please, if you have a great idea to share. Let us know!
Note: we won’t be updating this post but will start and share a monthly company update from now on, in which we will tell you what we’re working on and explain further decisions made.Check out the Improvements Timeline