Motivated by handcrafting a first-class grocery delivery experience and creating true value alignment between client and brand, Talisha Herald formed POPPY. This independent business of hers then swooped in by building strong relationships, refining what personal shopping felt like for her customers, and standing up for fair pay in gig-style work.
“Why I started POPPY was because I wanted to create an elevated experience; create things that weren’t happening with grocery delivery or curbside…And then I saw what could be improved from Instacart’s platform, which was having that consistent relationship with your shopper,” says Talisha, “These platforms do not treat their workers well, it’s really the gig economy profiting off of the backs of the shoppers, and the solution for me was to start my own Dumpling business.”
Through her involvement with local campaigns for gig worker rights and fair pay, Talisha saw customers paying more for Instacart groceries because of markups yet continually getting low-quality service from low-paid, inconsistent shoppers. “I thought I could start a business where my clients would be spending less to get a higher quality, consistent service and I’ll have a fair rate for myself,” she explains.
Gracious Relationships, Independent Business Building, and Anticipating Needs
Talisha already pivoted away from skincare in the early pandemic days and when she found Dumpling it “made a great way for me to create an independent business where I could be the owner and operator, and create an elevated shopping experience for my clients,” she says, “And that was lost doing Instacart because a lot of my high-touch customer service I wasn’t exactly able to do with the parameters of their app.”
She loved that Dumpling helped build relationship bridges and allowed her to set her own rates and watch for sales for her clients. Unlike with Instacart, she could also shop other stores and support local mom-and-pop businesses; a double dip with helping businesses in her area get wins while completing successful client orders.
For her, netting more repeat customers through relationships not only added value to her growing business, but a level of satisfaction that she didn’t find on other platforms. “You really are anonymous when you have an Instacart customer,” says Talisha, “I shop for someone and then never hear of them again, and for me, I really value building relationships.”
It was through that consistent ability to build warm client relationships that she hit the realization that her ideal client needed to align with her brand’s values. “I want clients who are community-minded, appreciate what I’m doing, care for my safety and other people’s safety,” Talisha explains, “I like having a customer who knows they’re supporting a small local female business when they’re shopping with me, and customers who care about workers’ rights.”
To create her high-touch customer experience, Talisha works 7 days a week from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM and tries to anticipate her clients’ needs, troubleshoot issues, and craft “the most seamless experience for them as possible.” Her goal is making her services as accessible as possible as well “whether it’s people that are making a $50 order every couple of weeks or people who are making $500 orders every week.”
Learning deeply about what her clients want and need is part of going the extra mile, which assists her in making thoughtful suggestions. “I’m very educated about food allergies and food preferences, I’m very detail-oriented and knowledgeable about products that are available,” Talisha says, “It’s beyond me just going in the store like, “Oh, here’s the list. Let me go find that thing.” It’s like, if that thing isn’t there, I know what they want and how to get something that’s a thoughtful replacement.”
“A Thousand Percent” Using Dumpling
“I like clear communication and want my clients to feel that my service is accessible,” says Talisha, “We are talking about food here and it is a luxury service to have someone go out and shop for you…So it’s really important to me to be able to provide a service that is very clear and accessible to most folks.”
And if more grocery delivery shoppers knew about how Dumpling operates, especially the transparent communication, Talisha says “a thousand percent” they’d use it over others. “Because people want a consistent shopper, want to support small, and I’m always keeping my eye out for people to recruit as a Dumpling business owner,” she explains, “I do wanna create opportunities for people to work 10 hours a week and make $25 an hour and not have the responsibilities of operating a business, but I also wanna see more shoppers on Dumpling’s platform.”
“And that’s the other thing about Dumpling, there’s a difference. With Instacart, you’re a shopper, and Dumpling, you’re a business owner, and that’s a huge difference,” she adds, “And there’s so many people who are shopping for Instacart who have the skills and capacity to operate a business on the Dumpling platform, and it’s so affordable and easy to get started.”
Within Dumpling, Talisha gets excited about access to secure credit card processing, creating her own website, and the piggyback option for shopping efficiency. She also loves the help desk because of their quick, thoughtful responses to questions, and “I really enjoy Office Hours where on the call any Dumpling business owner can join and we chat about things we’re doing with our business, ideas, and questions,” she says, “It definitely provides, as a solopreneur, a sense of comradery and a sounding board so that’s pretty energizing.”
Looking forward, Talisha’s planning to grow her Dumpling business enough to have a couple of part-time employees. “Yeah, I’d wanna create that opportunity for folks. People who do the gig economy and want a little bit of extra money, but they don’t want to operate a business so I’d like to create that for folks to have a fair wage,” she adds.
It’s that grocery delivery tech and attention to detail that Dumpling provides combined with the empathetic service that Talisha offers that’s helped her business ramp up. “Remember to think of [your clients] as individual households that you’re a part of and that you’re supporting them. And food is so special, it’s so important,” Talisha explains, “I’m helping somebody gather the things they need to nourish their bodies or for their family’s meal, which is very significant to me… [you want to be] authentically showing your care about this customer and their needs, which, as a business, sets you apart.”
When it comes to collaborating with Dumpling, Talisha recommends figuring out if there’s alignment with your values. “I met personally with one of Dumpling’s founders, Joel Shapiro, and he’s a wonderful person and we have similar values in regards to workers’ rights and that feels good,” Talisha explains, “Knowing there’s this ethical person operating the platform and that he attracts like-minded people [is great], plus it’s your business to have fun with…be something different, you don’t need to imitate Instacart; it’s your business, you can do so many wonderful things and the world needs you.”