NextChain’s Cream of The Crop Food Tech Solutions 🌽

Traditional hospitality has been disrupted across the board over the last 18 months, testing cafe, deli and restaurant owners to meet government as well as customer demands. Flourishing out of the chaos, food tech solutions have seen skyrocketing levels of uptake within the sector. We’ve kept an eye out over the last year to give you a list of 6 solutions that are sticking and the benefits they’re bringing.

1. Inventory Management Software

Keeping track of what’s in the fridges is no longer a guessing game of what you thought you might’ve had lurking in that mysterious dark corner of freezer no.3. No matter how small your cafe, no matter how reduced your menu, using a powerful inventory management system can solve a multitude of food worries. By having a better understanding of your stock not only will you be able to dramatically curb food waste, you’ll also be able to safeguard the health of your customers, manage food cost calculations and have the foresight to experiment with your menu and use up every last morsel of the produce you’ve paid for. Finding the right software to match your business should be at the top of your priority list. For small businesses it's worth experimenting with the better known groups such as Zettle who offer low entry costs and the possibility to easily back out.

2. No Show Apps / Bookings Apps

We’ve seen it at its worst in recent weeks and for some it was the dessert spoon that broke the camel’s back, forcing more incredible independents to close the shutters for the final time. No shows. Despite the crazy bounce back demand for tables, owners are still falling foul to last minute cancellations.
Fortunately, there is tech out there to help curb the issue.
Booking systems for smaller businesses are becoming ever more accessible thanks to rising demand. Apps such as Opentable, do the hard work for you and get waiting staff off the phone by sending out frequent updates and reminders to those that have booked. Deposit schemes and prepaid bookings are rising in popularity, with restaurant owners such as celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay charging up to ÂŁ150 in cancellation fees. Sounds steep but considering that the now show mentality is costing the British food industry over ÂŁ16bn a year, cutting down hard on the act may turn out to be a real force for good.

3. QR Codes

Springing up, almost out of nowhere, as a response to social distancing and ongoing regulations, this magical, pixelated square has opened up a whole new possibility for restaurant management. Allowing customers to browse and order from mobile menus has improved both the customer experience and management, reducing waiting times and giving restaurants greater opportunities to reach out to their customer base.

Surveys suggest that restaurant goers often prefer the streamlined ordering process via QR codes and are more likely to order more and even try out new options given that they don’t have to pester a busy waiter for additional side or a drinks top up. Solutions offered by platforms such as Sunday have made implementing QR menus slick and easy, even for the smallest of food outlets. If you're looking for a local alternative, our friends from Pour can get your business up and running in a few minutes!

4. Food Waste Solutions

A personal favourite of ours is the waste reducing, cost cutting method of tackling left over stock enabled by TooGoodToGo app. This simple solution gives food outlets the option to offer up their surplus food at the end of the day for a reduced price. CO2 as well as capital are saved with nearly 30million meals avoiding the landfill so far thanks to the app.

5. Employee Management Softwares

Although we’re all looking forward to the end of waves of self isolation pings and paused business operations, the added pressure on staff management raises real questions as to the best way to keep on top of holidays and last minute “sick days”. The way we approach this, as well as other aspects of HR, in this demanding industry is really important when retaining amazing staff. By deleting that messy excel or binning the rota binder and opting for a tech solution, you may just save a pantry load of hassle. Information about rota changes can flow seamlessly between staff and owners with help from mobile apps. There’s a ton of options out there but a nice one to try out for free is RotaCloud who keep it simple and offer a 30 day trial that you can quit at any point if it's not your jam.

6. Procure-to-Pay Solutions

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Once you’ve embraced the possibilities offered up by the thousands of food tech boffins working to support the industry, it can be hard to imagine the backbreaking work you used to have to do. When it comes to ordering produce, dealing with invoices and keeping track of your spending, that’s where we came in. NextChain has reached out to the hard workers of the industry to build a platform that removes stress, time and paperwork and lets you focus on what you really want to do.