This Is How Douglas Morton, CEO of Bother, Is Disrupting the Grocery Sector One Click at a Time.

Kelcie Gene Papp
May 14, 2024
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Douglas Morton's grocery start-up, Bother, isn't stopping at tea bags & champagne. We sat down with the man reimagining the weekly shop to find out what's happening next

You shared with The Grocer that you "hope to simplify consumer's lives by disrupting an industry that hasn't changed since the 1960s; an industry that no longer reflects the way we live." Almost a year later, has that hope changed?

Absolutely not! Our deep-rooted vision is to replenish people's homes in a single click (or as close as humanly possible) while making better choices easier for our customers. Better in price, convenience, and, crucially for the environment. The last year has brought with it enormous strides for Bother in bringing that vision closer to reality. Despite all the disruption in the grocery sector over the past year, we are more convinced than ever that our model stands alone in its potential to solve both the operational and environmental challenges the industry undoubtedly has. In a way that also directly reflects the way consumers increasingly aspire to live their lives. The fact we're able to do so with an efficient model approaching full company-wide profitably after just 12-months is a real testament to our vision and the phenomenal commitment of our mighty team.

How did the idea of Bother come about?

Like many people, with a busy life and a young family, I became increasingly frustrated and confused at why we kept running out of the same most basic household items and why they weren't easier to replenish. Having seen how eCommerce was developing in Asia, I knew there must be a better way.

After months of research and consumer surveying, I realised not only that I wasn't alone in my frustration, but imperatively, that the way we currently shop for groceries is needlessly inefficient on our time, on our wallets and mainly on the environment.

I knew there must be a better way, and so began Bother. Thankfully, I have managed to surround myself with an incredible team of eCommerce talent who share my passion for reimagining how grocery shopping should be done and changing it for good.

What are the principles you've stuck to in developing new business with brand partners? How do you like to develop business?

We're on a mission to reimagine the way household shopping is done in an industry that has seen little change in three generations yet one that touches everyone's lives.

It is a big goal, but one we believe deeply in, so alignment to our vision to make better choices easier to make for everyone is a core principle of ours, not just within our internal relationships but also with our external partnerships. Believing there is a better way to do something is half the battle, and this is a trait we look for in everyone we work with. Think alternatively, break the status quo, be brave in your decisions, empathise with the problem you are trying to solve and be conscious and collaborative in your approach. We believe anything is possible by staying true to these principles while retaining an unwavering line of sight to our core vision. Even bringing a bit of fun back to an inherently boring part of everyone's lives.

We like to work with partners who feel like an extension of our team and really understand our mission and vision to simplify people's lives to focus on the things that matter.

When dealing with external partners for things like advertising or PR, how intrinsic is alignment to Bother's core values? What do you expect from those relationships?

Alignment is absolutely essential. We have very large goals, so we need to align ourselves with partners with similar aspirations. Our best results have come from agencies and partners who understand our mission.

And that comes mainly from a mutual desire to simplify customers' lives, empathise with the problems they face, and solve consumer problems whilst building a business and model that's wholly sustainable. For us, this includes an operation that is not just environmentally efficient but also makes a positive impact on the planet for the long- term.

The environmental crisis we are currently in should not merely be a problem for individuals and governments to solve. We believe that it is the responsibility of companies like us to reimagine the way industries are structured, provide viable and easier alternatives for individuals to have a positive impact and put in place mechanisms through which solutions become self-sustaining.

Alignment to these core principles from every external partner we engage with is pivotal if we are to have any chance of success towards our longer-term vision.

When I googled 'We are Bother', the top 4 suggested searches were - We bother discount code, We are bother Instagram, Bother startup and Bother review. How do you feel about these results, and how intrinsic is social media to your current plans?

I think those are a great reflection on us. We're one of the most highly rated E-Commerce grocery delivery businesses on Trustpilot (I believe we have 3X the engagement on Trustpilot than the platform average and are one of the top-rated grocery providers in the country).

Everytime a customer or prospect interacts with us, we make sure it's a positive experience.

Despite doing relatively little on Instagram to date, we are incredibly proud of the customer engagement and feedback we have achieved so far from a very engaged and loyal customer base.

We plan to build further on this success with more social media to strengthen our brand and our very engaged community of customers.

Social media is a great leveller, and having spent so much time understanding and trying to solve a real problem in our customer's lives, we plan to further enhance our brand engagement throughout the year ahead to ultimately become the go-to personal household management tool for each one of our customers.

What can we expect to see from Bother this time next year? What values can your customers rely on?

A household management tool that helps you take care of your boring shopping in the best way that works for you, your family and the environment. Whether that's the Bother BrainTM doing all the heavy lifting and getting your Bother boxes ready for you, or putting your feet up and letting our Box Builder (a personalised shopping feed) do the hard work for you.

Our passion remains in simplifying our customer's lives, allowing them to focus on the things that really matter. Our customers can rely on us to empathise with their lives, be alternative in our thinking, brave in our actions, be community- minded and bring a bit of fun and simplicity back into their day-to-day lives.

This article was updated in October 2023.

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Kelcie Gene Papp
Founder & Editor