Return to all case studies

Case Study

mLab Helps Set the Table for Freshub’s Growth in Smart Kitchen Commerce

With Freshub, anyone can easily manage kitchen inventory and replenish supplies from their home using a touch, voice, and gesture-based interface that’s directly connected to online grocery retailers. mLab provides the hosted MongoDB database solution that keeps this smart kitchen innovation humming.

Highlights
  • mLab’s consistently exceptional support offers genuine, personal care for the success of Freshub’s database strategy and deployment, providing dedicated and timely assistance even with issues that lie outside the Database-as-a-Service’s traditional purview.
  • Freshub is confident it can continue to rapidly scale, store, and process this information from its always-on sensors.
  • mLab's MongoDB solution provided Freshub with an easy transition from mySQL: data replicates automatically across multiple nodes and easy schema changes require less developer time.
Customer Profile

Freshub is a leading provider of Smart Kitchen Commerce technology. Its solutions bring grocery retailers, appliance manufactures, and eGrocery and digital coupon providers together, to make the IoT-driven smart kitchen a reality. Freshub offers consumers direct access to their retailers of choice from the comfort of their homes, allowing them to easily add items to online shopping carts, maintain dynamic shopping lists, and clip digital coupons. The technology enables consumers to do so via natural voice commands, or by simply waving desired grocery items in front of such display-enabled connected kitchen appliances as refrigerators, microwaves, and smart bins.

The Challenge

To create a brand new in-home grocery shopping experience for consumers, Freshub needed a database strategy that could house information for over 1 million products.

Founded in 2012, Freshub set out to create a connected kitchen in which we would never again run out of a key ingredient midway through cooking dinner. The company reasoned that technology could assist by accurately tracking what’s in stock and by allowing users to order needed groceries from online retailers in seconds. To accomplish this, Freshub designed its solution to be far easier to use than existing app-based efforts that tried to address this need.

To turn vision into reality, Freshub developed a shopping experience centered around a tablet-like, voice-activated device that could be placed either atop a kitchen counter or mounted on a smart kitchen appliance. This Freshub device is always on and ready to receive input, either through its touch screen, by speaking voice commands in natural language, or even just by waving a hand or product in front of the device. The natural user interface is a key facet of Freshub’s offering, making interactions so fast and simple that consumers can complete grocery purchases when the thought strikes them, and without it feeling like a chore. The device features deep learning network-based speech interpretation capabilities, allowing users to perform item searches, ask about discounts, and add items to their cart simply by speaking as they would to another person. The device can also scan product UPCs (with a full visual recognition feature set as a future update), and recognizes specific intuitive hand gestures as commands.

Freshub’s solution integrates online grocery retailers’ backend infrastructure within its in-kitchen grocery shopping experience, and provides detailed, contextual displays of available offers and coupons. This allows consumers to easily identify the groceries and deals they prefer, and for retailers to offer alternative products when needed. Certain items can also be automatically replenished, repeating set purchases from their retailers of choice.

To successfully implement this system, Freshub needed to create and maintain a database with over a million groceries and kitchen products, along with data derived from a granular, detailed mapping of retailer portfolios. These comprehensive datasets enable features that significantly enhance user convenience, such as retailers’ “distance scores” and an easy discovery process for related products.

Initially, Freshub used MySQL for its database needs and all management was internal. However, in practice, MySQL soon became an unwieldy solution to handle – and one that was not particularly well suited for Freshub’s use case. Freshub decided to switch to MongoDB for a few reasons. First, it wanted to use a document database, which was a better fit for Freshub’s application. Second, MongoDB offered the best long-term solution for a fast-approaching future where countless IoT sensors and transmitters would flood the connected kitchen with big data insights that Freshub will need to harness. Lastly, seeking to avoid complex schema migration techniques – and to concentrate resources on fine-tuning Freshub’s user experience – the startup needed a technology with flexible data modeling.

Solution

mLab provides the all-inclusive MongoDB hosting platform and stellar support that Freshub depends on to bring up-to-date retailer data into homes and successfully deliver its connected kitchen shopping experience

After deciding on a fully hosted MongoDB solution and evaluating the available options, Freshub selected mLab as its cloud-based Database-as-a-Service provider. mLab was chosen after Freshub determined that the provider had the most positive reviews out of all the providers that were compared, a factor that weighed heavily during Freshub’s decision-making process. Working with mLab, Freshub has discovered that the DBaaS’ reputation for incredibly responsive and expert support is well deserved. Freshub personnel have a deep trust in the knowledge and dedication of mLab’s staff to seeing Freshub succeed.

At the same time, mLab capably manages Freshub’s vast (and growing) database needs, providing the business with a trusted platform that it can rely on as it expands relationships with kitchen appliance manufacturers and grocery retailers, and brings more solutions to market.

mLab’s support is the greatest I’ve ever seen – anywhere. We tried out both mLab and one of its largest competitors, and raised the same technical question with support staff at each. mLab immediately recognized the problem and had two experts working hard to solve it for us. Meanwhile, the other MongoDB-as-a-Service provider responded by saying it was a database problem and not a hosting problem…but that if we bought an enterprise support subscription they might see if they could actually help us. Other times, even if I only have a strategic question and not an issue, mLab has people who I know by name that will send me a helpful, thoughtful response minutes later. mLab’s support absolutely stands out, because they care about our deployment as much as we do!

Gena Minevich VP of Research and Development, Freshub

Benefits

Supported by mLab, Freshub has the database strategy and implementation it needs to deliver a smart kitchen solution that can continue to scale.

mLab provides Freshub with the hosted MongoDB database that best fits its requirements – both now and into the future. Using mLab frees up internal resources to allow the company to iterate more efficiently on other aspects of its product and user experience. Additionally, Freshub benefits from the ease of scalability that mLab offers, laying the groundwork for the company to expand its utilization of massive datasets in an always-on, Internet of Things era. Most of all, Freshub looks forward to continuing its partnership, based on mLab’s unmatched support and expertise.

More Case Studies
View all case studies