Aaron Smith

Director, Product

Building and scaling customer-centric product strategy to connect diners with local restaurants

A pioneer in the food delivery space, Grubhub has been connecting diners and restaurants since 2004. Taking delivery from paper brochures to a digitally-enabled ordering experience has been a challenge—but one that has rewarded Aaron and his team with a treasure trove of data, context on user behavior patterns, and platform for reaching a bigger audience than ever before.

Today, Grubhub serves more than 9 million active diners and 55,000 restaurants in over 1,200 U.S. cities and London. How does the product team at Grubhub stay innovative in the midst of an evolving competitive landscape, while staying focused on their audience?

“Our ultimate goal is to provide the best possible food ordering experience, with the selection, speed, and low prices that our diners love,” says Aaron, Director of Product at Grubhub. “We’re always looking for new ways to improve the ordering process for our diners. However, the needs of our diners are constantly evolving, so we’re tasked with the challenge of prioritizing what’s most important to our diners and aligning with the key stakeholders on our product teams.”

Know your advantages and your audience

Aaron and his team know that their diners always have a choice when it comes to their next food order. Similarly, restaurant owners want to partner with a platform that they can count on for consistently delivering orders, and making the work of accepting orders online easy.

To continue delivering on the product experiences Grubhub’s customers have come to expect, Aaron focuses on how his teams can leverage their biggest advantages: “What really separates us from our competitors is that we are the only one in the space that solely focuses on food. Our knowledge of the food delivery space, paired with our scale gives us troves of menu data and click through behavior, in order to make a more personalized experience for our diners.”

This data paints a picture of what Grubhub customers are doing today and what they’re looking for next. “It all starts with the customer,” says Aaron. “What can we build next to continue to provide them the best ordering experience? Using our data and qualitative customer feedback, we’re able to determine the potential impact of proposed features. We work with our technology teams to size the effort, then work to prioritize projects.”

It all starts with the customer. What can we build next to continue to provide them the best ordering experience?

Persistence and iteration are key to experimentation success

Aaron and his team lean heavily on an experimental process to drive innovation in Grubhub’s products: “Experimentation is part of our success!”

“We constantly test out new features and seek to balance iterating to optimize the results of an experiment vs. moving on to new experiments. Sometimes an experiment doesn't work out initially, but rather than lose patience, we’ll continue to iterate until it is a winner, or until we determine that we should take the learnings onto new experiments.”

“Every experiment begins with a hypothesis backed by qualitative and quantitative data such as previous test results, customer research, analytics, customer service contacts, etc. As we launch and track a test, then identify opportunities to measurably improve the experience, we’ll continue to iterate. We’re always keeping an eye out on having a more positive impact on diners, drivers and restaurant partners, so if we think working on something else will have a bigger impact, we’ll move on to that.”

Celebrate big, innovative ideas. ‘Moon Shots’ can result in great improvements to your customer experience. Incorporate these ideas along with your incremental improvements and iterations. You’ll maximize your chances of meeting your goals.
Aaron Smith

Director, Product

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