Coronavirus increases sales of food waste at Aalto students’ online shop
Fiksu Ruoka, which means smart food in Finnish, is a company set up by past and present students at Aalto which aims to reduce food waste. They buy clearance and remainder goods from producers and importers, and sell them to consumers more cheaply than usual via an online shop. In the time of coronavirus, the company is facing new growth-related challenges.
“With coronavirus, we are experiencing unprecedented growth and have never been so busy. People are mostly at home and have time to surf the net. We sold out of toilet paper in a few days and sales of consumables increased fivefold. Sales of basic dried products, such as rice, pasta and canned food, grew even more,” said Juhani Järvensivu, CEO of Fiksu Ruoka and a student of production economics.
Customer numbers, and ordering and delivery volumes have remained high after this spring.
“The new coronavirus forced many people to try online shopping, and people's behaviour patterns changed markedly. It was great that we were able to help many people who wanted to stay at home as much as possible,” said the purchasing director of Fiksu Ruoka, Julius Särkkälä.
The company collaborates closely with Aalto: entrepreneurship students can combine work and study by writing their master’s thesis on the company. Julius Särkkälä is just about to graduate from the industrial engineering and management programme at Aalto. He wrote his master’s thesis on deepening supplier relations through data sharing at Fiksu Ruoka.
“We get a lot of information about customers through our online sales. We share information with suppliers about what kinds of customers buy their products. With this knowledge, they are able to design their own product range better.”
Data is also used to help improve online sales processes and customer experience, which can also increase the social impact. The data is not identifiable, but it can be used to show that 25-year-olds are interested in a specific product, for example. Fiksu Ruoka has over 100,000 customers, and the data is analysed using machine learning methods.
“With machine learning we can use the data to find interesting behaviours that we can pass on to suppliers. At the same time, we learn more from them. It's been wonderful to be able to combine and apply the content of lectures and courses to the company's operations.”
The Aalto students have created a number of projects for the company.
“Students have done projects on topics like pricing and segmentation. Even some Swedish industrial engineering and management students did a project evaluating Fiksu Ruoka when a Finnish industrial engineering and management student was there in exchange,” said Juhani Järvisivu.
One graduate of Aalto’s mechanical and civil engineering programme, Richard Lindroos, founded Fiksu Ruoka in summer 2016, and Juhani Järvisivu became the second entrepreneur and managing director of the company in spring 2017. Other Aalto students working in the company include industrial engineering and management master’s student and Fiksu Ruoka’s data and analytics director Henri Saksi, Julius Särkkälä, and purchaser Tea Tähtinen, who has graduated fromindustrial engineering and management.