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Weee! taps Crazy Rich Asians director Jon M. Chu in push for grocery growth


Weee! is an online grocery delivery service. It encourages users to post videos with their favourite recipes. The company specializes in Asian food, as well as fruits and vegetables, but also other staples.


Weee! is an online grocery startup! It specializes on hard to find foods from Asian, Hispanic and other cuisines. This year it also landed a rare celebrity in its executive suite: An actor from Hollywood.

Jon M. Chu was hired by the company as chief creative officer. He is the director of “Crazy Rich Asians”, and the movie adaptation of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s “In the Heights.” Chu is bringing his storytelling expertise from the movies, in which food and culture play a central role, to an in-house team of about 10 people that spotlights unique dishes and the ingredients needed to make them — sold on the ever-expanding Weee! The online marketplace.

Chu stated that he envisions the internet grocer offering unusual features, such as playlists customers can listen to while they cook or follow-up emails about the history and purchase history.

He said that this job was far more valuable than just working for a startup. It was about the new forms of my storytelling.”

Weee! Weee! The company website and mobile app can be accessed in many languages including English, Spanish and Chinese. You can order takeout at more than 1000 restaurants through the app.

San Francisco-based startup now provides fresh grocery delivery to 18 US states, and shelf-stable products for all 48 lower 48 states. The company has eight fulfillment centres across the nation, located in all 50 states, including New Jersey and Washington, to pack orders and ship them.

The company is trying to stand out in a fragmented space — and previewing how grocery shopping online could look in the future. To make online grocery shopping more immersive and social, the grocer has launched an app and website.

Weee! Customers can upload video of their favorite recipes to the app via a TikTok-like function. You can easily buy the snacks and other ingredients in these videos by clicking a button. Refer a friend, family member or colleague to get discounts and share coupons.

Larry Liu, founder and CEO of Liu Foods said that “We believe food shopping should not be like what it is today.” It should be more fun, inspiring, and better.

The changing tastes

In the last two years, customers have found new ways of filling up their fridges. developed expanded palatesYou can cook more at home. This inspired others to use meal kits and get their groceries delivered right to their doorsteps or curbside pick up.

Weee saw growth due to the pandemic. Although the venture-backed, privately-held start-up did not share details about its customers or revenue, it stated that it had fulfilled over 15 million orders. The company’s active monthly users increased by more than 1500% each year. To date, the start-up has raised more than $800 million in funding — including a $425 million investment round announced in February led by SoftBank Vision Fund 2.

A small, but increasing fraction of all industry total sales was also affected by the pandemic. IRI E-Market Insights & Coresight Research estimates that online grocery sales have almost tripled, from $29.3 Billion in 2019 to $57 Billion in 2020. The estimates of the companies show that online grocery sales could reach $90 billion by this year. Coresight research shows that brick-and mortar still holds a dominant position in the grocery sector. However, 95% of all food retail spend will be made at local stores by 2021.

According to Ken Fenyo (president of Coresight Research), online grocery stores don’t offer sample stations or colorful displays that encourage people to shop.

The fruit is “inexpensive” to buy in stores. It’s possible to browse the aisles looking for something you like. There might be a serendipity that leads you to the right thing. He said, “Let me throw it in.” Online tends to be more search-driven and less list-driven.

Retailers such as Weee! Fenyo explained that online shopping can bring back the experiential aspect of grocery shopping and make it more fun and personal. Others direct-to consumer grocers also have specialties such as Thrive Market which sells natural and organic foods or Misfits Market or Imperfect Foods which sell premium groceries at a lower price by selling misshaped vegetables and broken almond pieces, and similar products.

For Weee, the challenge is! Fenyo explained that Weee is competing with smaller online grocery retailers to gain new customers while keeping delivery prices low.

Weee! was started by Larry Liu, an immigrant from China. He was frustrated by his inability to find favourite foods.


A tale of an immigrant

Liu, aged 41, was the inspiration for Weee! were personal.

After struggling to find his favorite Chinese foods, Liu founded the company. After driving for an hour and a half to get to the nearest Asian market, Liu became tired of it. He was inspired to start WeChat groups by people who miss the taste of their home. In one, a woman coordinated a group order for friends — and friends of friends — who wanted to buy fresh cod from Half Moon Bay in California.

This experience led to some Weee! App’s distinctive features include the “Community” tab, which looks like a social media network that includes user-generated content and company-generated videos.

Weee! Liu stated that Weee caters to those who reside in areas with low density. This includes seniors living in assisted living homes and international students. Customers order Weee at least twice per month. He estimated that it accounts for between 40% and 50% of the customers monthly grocery budget.

Weee! Hispanic cuisines are being gradually added. You can find Mexican food in California or Texas.

The most popular products include staples such as rice and fresh veggies, but also seasonal items like sweet wintermelon from Vietnam and hot pot kits made from Southern China, and sesame cake made from Northern China in the Lunar New Year.

The app offers a variety of options, including Japanese treats to celebrate the cherry blossom season, sakura or Mother’s Day, and a rotating selection of other suggestions. You can also find a wide range of household and beauty products, including Korean cosmetics.

Jon M. Chu is at Disney’s Premiere of “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” at El Capitan Theatre in Los Angeles on August 16, 20,21.

Axelle BauerGriffin | Bauer-Griffin | FilmMagic | Getty Images

New kind of storytelling

Prior to Weee! Chu hired Chu as the film director. Chu had previously seen delivery trucks of the company and heard about it from friends. Chu also began ordering Korean barbecue products like sauce and short-ribs. He was intrigued by the mission of the company, and reached out to Liu. They had a great conversation that led to an offer of employment.

Chu will soon be directing Universal Pictures’ adaptation of Broadway musical “Wicked”, with Ariana Grande, Cynthia Erivo and others. He admitted that even though it was a huge undertaking, he had to include Weee in his busy schedule.

Chu was a child and used to do his homework at Chef Chu’s bar in San Francisco Bay Area, which his parents had opened in 1969. This restaurant was featured in a video about Weee!’s purposeFood is a way to connect people and cultures.

Chu, who is now a father, said that he hopes to teach his children about the culture.

They smelled like Asian food and I wanted them. [to feel]He said that they didn’t find it strange or exotic. They felt it as their home, the same way I did.

Chu recently used his Rolodex Hollywood contacts to team up with Pixar and Disney to create recipes and film videos for Weee! App inspired by the movie “Turning Red”, a story about a Chinese-Canadian teenager that transforms into a huge red panda. Chu spoke with Domee Shi about the making of the movie and unpacked some childhood treats.

Chu and Liu claimed that the grocery store can tell the story behind food and introduce customers to new tastes and traditions.

Erin Edwards, 34 years old, from Santa Ana (California) and her family make up that group of foodies. Edwards isn’t Asian nor Hispanic and placed her first order with Weee. In February, after seeing a YouTube video that a friend shared with her. To supplement her weekly shopping for Trader Joe’s, she’s continued to shop with the website. Target.

She and her family bought Chinese snacks for their four-member household. They also purchased ingredients and spices for Asian cuisines, including noodles to make homemade pho. Holland’s 2-year-old daughter Holland and Wren’s 4-year-old daughter Wren love Pocky (Japanese chocolate-dipped biscuit sticks).

She said, “Seeing other people create videos and tutorials makes it so simple.” We feel empowered to do it all ourselves.

Liu shared that he believes in a similar culture for sharing among his three children.

Their classmates all enjoy boba milk Tea, regardless of their skin colour. All of them eat sushi. “They all love Indian curry and Korean BBQ,” he stated. So I believe the next generation will have a very different taste. “In a way we’re building the selection for the future cultural explorers.”

Disclosure:CNBC is owned and operated by NBCUniversal.