What’s happening on the tech front? For those unaware Clover has been building our own tech since the first food truck (2009). We run our own order management system, Point of sale, Kitchen display system, and more. We have amazing programmers as a critical part of our team and they do magic.
One huge unexpected benefit of this set-up is that it’s allowed us to build and scale our meal box business and is supporting our move to what we call “omnichannel” — meaning that in the future we expect to sell through multiple channels, not just restaurants but delivery to your home, in offices and other institutions, and packaged products at grocery.
We made some quick changes in 2020 to facilitate the box program. You might notice if you download our app or direct your phone to order.cloverfoodlab.com that there is an icon there for the meal boxes. We added that. Added the ability to set delivery windows. Added the ability to set pick-up at the restaurants. We added subscription management. I think overall it could use a UX overhaul but it’s working pretty for the time being.
Our focus at the moment is on the back-end, making these things work more efficiently for our commissary operations and logistics teams. Our tech team is finishing up a recipe management tool. This is something we’ve avoided for years but we just can’t get any 3rd party tools to do what we want. So we’ve taken it on. We’ll have clear production lists based on orders coming in (e.g., kitchen will know they need to make 473 small stickered delis of hummus to service tomorrow’s home shipments plus 34 containers of hummus for the restaurants; and they will have the info they need to place precise orders for production 4 days from now).
We’re working to get all of the nutritional, allergen, ingredient information synced up to support the meal boxes. This is a big undertaking. We’ve made this stuff transparent for years for the restaurants but the boxes present a new level of technical challenge since they have so many items (and we change the items all the time). If you order a Taco Tuesday box from us next week it will be different from the one the following week. (If you haven’t tried the subscriptions you should! They may change your life.) We need to get every single ingredient and the nutritional information accurate for those. Very excited to say that we’re getting very close to having that all automated and synced in real time.
We’ve also been beefing up our logistics support. Drivers get optimized routes using a 3rd party software called Optimoroute (local company!) We’re making sure stickers printed for boxes line up nicely and that addresses are verified in the app before orders go through.
This stuff maybe not as exciting as talking about the dreamy Baja Sandwich that just returned to the menu, but it’s critical stuff to make everything happen efficiently.