Today Electrolux announced a new partnership with guided cooking company SideChef to create a smart kitchen platform for their Asian Pacific (APAC) market. SideChef’s tech will be used to provide guided cooking abilities (and more) via Electrolux’s consumer-facing app.
This announcement comes a few months after Electrolux partnered with Innit to integrate the company’s smart kitchen platform technology into their appliances in the European market. However, in Europe, users have to download the Innit app to use its software. Under the Asian partnership, the smart kitchen company’s tech will be integrated with the Electrolux app itself; In short, SideChef’s software will be the engine powering Electrolux’s Taste platform in the Asia market. (That is, everything Electrolux does related to cooking and the kitchen.)
“We are the first — and, I believe, only — company where SideChef’s tech is being integrated seamlessly inside our app,” Jaimohan Thampi, Head of Digital Transformation and IoT at Electrolux Asia Pacific, told us over the phone.
Since this partnership is in APAC, and not Europe or the U.S., Electrolux faces a few challenges. While Australia is similar to Europe or the US, many of Asia’s emerging economies like Vietnam or Thailand do not feature western-style cooking equipment beyond surface cooking (ranges/induction cooktops), which means the company is more limited in what it can do with connectivity. Because of this, the initial approach with the app will be on providing cooking guidance to any cook, no matter the kitchen set-up.
“We’re taking an approach of connected consumer first, then evolving into the connected appliance,” said Thampi, which he hopes will give APAC consumers the confidence to cook new, international dishes.
The app went live in Singapore yesterday and will gradually roll out in other APAC countries. Electrolux is targeting a release in Australia/New Zealand in August, the Philippines in September, and October on for the rest of the region. They’re starting first with English-speaking countries since it’ll, obviously, be a much bigger lift to translate app into new languages and cultures.
Taking a step back, Electrolux is playing the long game with the SideChef integration. By nurturing home cooks in APAC countries that not only want to prepare meals that go beyond basic cooktops but also have the confidence to do so thanks to SideChef’s app, means that they’re essentially creating a new consumer base for their kitchen appliances.
But they’re not stopping there. “We want to be the go-to player in everything around taste,” said Thampi. Especially in the digital realm. In addition to guided cooking, Electrolux is also looking into grocery delivery, meal planning, ingredient substitution, and social sharing, as well as post-meal cleanup and food waste reduction. To do that, they’ll have to rely pretty heavily on collaboration.
They’re not the only ones. SideChef dropped the news at the Smart Kitchen Summit Europe that they’d be providing the smart software behind Swiss company V-ZUG’s connected appliances. This comes after SideChef announced its partnership with Sharp (at the Smart Kitchen Summit Japan) and integrated with Amazon Fresh to provide shoppable recipes in the U.S. Kevin Yu, CEO of SideChef, hinted that they’ll be dropping more partnership announcements over the next few months. (Stay tuned.)
After making moves to partner with Innit in Europe a few months ago, Electrolux is taking large strides to differentiate itself from other appliance makers hoping to make it big with software-enabled cooking. LG has partnered with both Innit and SideChef, Kenwood launched a new multicooker powered by Drop, and Whirpool has its Yummly integration.
According to a job listing we found last month, Electrolux is also working away at something called the ‘Electrolux Connectivity Platform,’ which our own Michael Wolf predicted could be an IoT cloud and linked mobile platform to support future connected products for the company.
All this is to say that Electrolux is trying to get out in front of the connected cooking market and own the at-home meal journey, and they’re trying to do it all over the world. SideChef, for its part, wants to become the go-to “engine” powering the smart kitchen revolution. This move is an important test case for connected appliances and guided cooking apps in the APAC market, but also for the two companies’ partnership overall. Because if it works out, I’m betting they’ll vie for global (smart kitchen appliance) domination.