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Co-founders of online grocer Brandless on their mission to make shopping simpler

Brandless offers fewer options
Brandless offers fewer options 05:25

For a company built on the idea of no brand names, Brandless has a pretty strong identity.

The San Francisco startup launched this week with the aim of disrupting the nearly $600 billion grocery industry, $3 at a time.

The online retailer sells about 200 household products and food items ranging from organic peanut butter to fluoride-free toothpaste and cooking knives. Every product is priced at just $3.  

Brandless Co-founders Ido Leffler and Tina Sharkey CBS News

Co-founders Ido Leffler and Tina Sharkey joined "CBS This Morning" to discuss the philosophy behind their new venture and their focus on simplicity.

They created Brandless with the idea that by cutting out supermarkets and traditional marketing they could bring savings directly to their customers.

Sharkey says the way consumer products are bought and sold in America is broken.

"The products are made in the factories, they then go through lots of inefficiencies to actually get to that market and by the time it gets to you you're paying so much mark-up that we've decided to cut out of the process," Sharkey said.

Brandless ketchup.  Brandless

Asked why the company chose $3 as their price point, Leffler said, "The $3 was about simplicity. We wanted people to understand just how easy it was to shop across an entire line without having to pay what we call a brand tax."

The company has two distribution centers and Sharkey said all orders arrive in two days or less for a $9 flat shipping rate.

The company has a social mission, too.

"Everybody who shops on, when they check out we will donate a meal to Feeding America," Sharkey said.

One of the things the retailer is banking on is the millennial demographic.

Brandless hand soap.  Brandless

"Seventy-eight percent of millennials have said they don't want to buy the products they grew up with. They don't want their parents' government. They don't want their parents' institutions and they don't want to go with the brands," Sharkey said.

In its mission to serve millennials, the company has focused on simplicity and providing fewer options instead of more

"We've edited down the assortment. Today at you'll find hundreds of items versus the millions of items you can find across —whether it's Amazon or the 30-40,000 you can find in Whole Foods. And we've made it easier for people to shop,"Leffler.

"The simplicity of our labeling system, the simplicity of our price point, the simplicity of choice is actually liberating people because at the end of the day at Brandless we really want people to go out and live more and brand less," Sharkey said. 

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