I can second the conceptual side of things being challenging.
There are also other technical aspects behind the scenes that aren’t directly visible and are not as simple as a couple of lines of code for a shoppify configuration. There are likely entire production and order workflows involved in the manufacturing side that might unintuitively make a simple change not as practical or as easy as we’d like. Weird things like how much of the huel bags are already pre-packed in sets of two to account for lead time and ensuring that supply meets demand for new orders end up getting in the way of quickly changing something. I know when Soylent first came out, it took them a few months to iron out their production line and supplier relationships to ensure that people could subscribe to them reliably. Add in the possibility of different manufacturing/shipping facilities having to be adjusted for all of this meet sustainability goals?
The possible impacts of changing out the plugin’s setting are mind-boggling to contemplate without having more insight into Huel’s operation. None of this logistics complexity is visible in a 5 minute change in a front end framework, and I think for most people this kind of thing is hidden from us.
I’d also imagine that all the new products mean they’ve either had to build up some in-house expertise here to set up something akin to an ERP/CRM system to help with international billing and inventory projections, or are depending on integration of shoppify’s limited ERP offerings. Going in and changing some of the order settings could be tricky to orchestrate if they’re also still greasing the wheels that have allowed them to offer these new products to begin with.
The conceptual issues are complex here too. Even something like your simple suggestion of a £5 fee might induce psychological barriers. Maybe stuff like loss aversion and order complexity issues that increase friction to someone actually doing the order.
They might be aiming for simplicity on the shipping fee side of things. With retail companies like Amazon in the states, more and more people tend to scoff at shipping costs in general. To make this more complex, there seems to not only be an age related shift in consumer’s response to shipping issues, it also seems to vary based on what country you are from, at least if you trust surveys. So you’d have to balance this out with complex demographic information to ensure that people aren’t being dissuaded before they even get a chance to buy the product. I believe you’d also have to account for the us/uk version of the site and challenges around ensuring things like VAT (on the merch) and taxes etc are accounted for, which all impact friction.
Suddenly becomes a bit more complex if you want to include verification that the order changes don’t affect that kind of thing. While the code change is trivial, planning and strategy around stuff like this takes more than a few minutes to get right. A poorly timed 5 minute change to a configuration file could even make or break the company if it means the growth of new Huelers ends up evaporating and they aren’t able to attract any new venture capital funds to cover losses.
I can’t speak for everyone, but the amount of social proof I needed to even consider buying a food product as fringe as ‘powered meal replacement’ was pretty high. I only jumped over to huel because I had already been on-board with Soylent in the past and was looking for more GI friendly options. It’s a hard sell already to get people to try out this stuff, so any increase in friction on the website needs to be thought out extremely carefully.
I’m all for the ethos of “move-fast and break things” when it comes to software startups, but when we’re talking about supply+logistics of manufacturing retail food? I’d rather they drag their feet a bit if it means reliable product quality and a steady supply.