Consumers are evolving faster than the supply chain, with inventory management becoming increasingly problematic for restaurant operators and those who invest in chains. And the more money a chain has tied up in inventory, the harder it is to get a handle on lowering food costs. Lately, though, a slew of restaurant inventory management software companies are trying to help, offering products to help track food costs, budget menu items, and optimize inventory. There’s already been consolidation in the restaurant inventory management software sector, with some companies gobbling up others. Still, equity funding remains high, though it varies greatly. To date, the total equity funding of BevSpot ($17.09m), for instance, is 1,139 times that of companies like TrakBar (BevSpot has done four rounds, versus one round for TrakBar) and was founded two years earlier. Below, we round up the above startups, as well as some of the other companies aiming to impact the way restaurants manage their supply chains.
Aldelo POS Pro offers inventory tools, point-of-sale features, seating management, financial tools, and workforce management. The software can create automatic purchase orders based upon inventory levels and offers support for physical inventory counts. bcFood is a fully-integrated software solution built on Microsoft Dynamics NAV, designed specifically to support the needs of the food industry. bcFood offers quality control features, advanced notifications, workflow capabilities, recipe definition, accounting, trade management, license plating, mobile warehousing, and more. Specifically geared toward bars, BevSpot lets users take inventory on a mobile device before sharing with team members. Users can search to find hidden inventory and transfer inventory between locations or bars. BlueCart’s web and mobile platform is built to streamline and modernize the wholesale procurement process for buyers and sellers. The company serves more than 30,0000 businesses in the hospitality industry. ChefTec assists users with menu costing and purchases, allowing restaurants to enter invoices, generate a variety of reports, compare vendor prices, and track food costs. Additionally, some versions of the software (there are Regular, Plus, and Ultra versions) come pre-loaded with a database of 2,000 ingredients with unlimited capacity for additional custom items. Compeat allows users to count inventory, assets and forecast alcohol and food costs. Additionally, the program runs reports on labor and minimum wage analysis, taking into account federal, state, and local labor laws and lets operators calculate daily labor costs and create payroll-ready files. The Austin, Texas-based company has received an undisclosed amount in one round of funding from VC firm Serent Capital. ConnectSmart Kitchen allows both single-units and large chain to route, delay route, and course meals. Users can run custom reports and enhance the back of house through kitchen video and bin management. CostGuard’s software is almost completely devoted to inventory management, automating purchasing, and auditing vendor pricing. Restaurants can utilize the software to maintain multiple inventories, create requisitions and transfers and to count broken or incomplete cases. Ctuit offers tools and reports for a variety of cost, waste, fraud detection, and ordering purposes. Users can compare restaurant inventory item prices paid across multiple locations and set alert limits on items for easy price monitoring. CrunchTime!‘s restaurant management software provides an integrated system for inventory, vendor, labor, food cost management and operations. Users can simplify ordering at the unit level with system-generated suggested ordering based on par levels, historical consumption patterns, sales forecasts, and on-hand inventory levels. Users include Five Guys, Le Pain Quotidien, and Ruby Tuesday. In 2015, the company acquired enterprise-grade beacon management platform Mahana. Fishbowl specializes in analytics, using data to allow users to guide decisions about menu pricing, product development, LTO benchmarking, menu positioning, and menu reduction. The software uses a combination of statistical modeling and pricing science to identify how demand can be optimized. After raising $19 million in two rounds of funding, Fishbowl was acquired by Symphony Technology Group in January 2017. Dine Market allows users to browse, buy, and analyze ingredients, tracking costs and inventory in real time. The company — which promises that restaurants doing 70% of their food purchasing on its site will save 5 – 15% — touts over 4,000 restaurants, retailers and food service suppliers in its online marketplace. eBev works to connect the wholesale beverage community, allowing restaurants and bars to place weekly orders, connect with sales reps, download sales reports and utilize marketing and CRM tools. Infoplus is an inventory management product for small to midsize organizations in industries including consumer goods, electronics, and food and beverage. Key features include core inventory management, demand forecasting and replenishment, inventory optimization, reporting and analysis and vendor managed inventory. IPro can help restaurants track orders, purchases, and sales and even analyze business profits. The comprehensive restaurant inventory and food cost control software features menu sales and profit analysis, recipe costing, ordering and purchasing history, and more. SimpleOrder’s restaurant software claims it can help operators save more than 10 hours a week, through the elimination back-of-house tasks like placing orders, accepting deliveries, and handling paperwork. The software allows operators to monitor changes in food costs, tracking price fluctuations in real time from a phone, tablet, or PC. Marketman’s cloud software allows users to know inventory quantity and value in real time, set alerts for low inventory, compare actual and theoretical inventory costs, and plan and budget menu items, ingredients and preparations. Manhattan Associates is a publicly listed provider of supply chain execution applications covering transportation management, distributed order management and inventory optimization. Pizza chain Papa John’s is among the company’s clients, using applications like warehouse management and replenishment to improve operational warehouse performance, as well as the chain’s inventory allocation process. Meal Ticket supports an integrated network of foodservice distributors, manufacturers, and operators by providing cloud-based sales, and marketing and analytics software, allowing restaurants access to data regarding customers and food costs. Nix86’s mobile and web platform modernizes the wholesale procurement process for foodservice buyers and sellers, allowing both restaurant and retail buyers to place orders using their mobile device or computer. Ordyx counts customers including chains with hundreds of units as well as mom-and-pop restaurants, allowing them to track orders, take payments, and utilize data to recognize what items sell and what type of guests are buying them. In addition to offering budgeting tools and vendor ordering, ORCA’s software allows for inventory tracking, with automated audits on counts and variance reporting to ensure accuracy. Oracle specializes in food and beverage management software, helping businesses optimize their stock and simplify workflow management to maintain inventories in the most cost-effective manner. The software updates users with real-time product usage updates, suggested ordering, and global overviews of purchases by vendor, store, and item. Orderly claims it can help restaurants take a complete inventory and get COGS in half the time without spreadsheets, data entry, or price lookup. Users can include an ingredient, location, category, UOM and price and the Orderly app will create a shelf-to sheet inventory guide. Ordermentum is custom-built for the food and beverage industry, allowing retailers and restaurants to pre-order ingredients, place standing orders, and send automatic invoices. Some 6,257 venues currently order via the company. PeachWorks allows for integration with restaurant vendors, the generation of purchase orders, the receipt of invoices and more. In addition to providing views of a restaurant’s total inventory, the software allows users to add and track items, declare prep, and run reports to track large variances and determine cost of sales. Parsley’s mobile app helps chefs and operators maintain consistency and reduce food waste through recipe costing and scaling, prep lists, the calculation of par levels, and cost breakdowns. The company claims its software saves chefs an average of 5-10 hours a week, reduces food cost by 2 – 5%, and improves customer satisfaction and restaurant income. Planet Table is a Japanese food tech startup, with a network connecting farmers producing high quality foods with high-end restaurants. The startup was launched as an online marketplace in August 2015, and is now serving about 200 food producers and buyers. Softeon is a privately owned provider of supply chain software, particularly focused on the beverage sector. In 2004, the company unveiled an integrated order management, fulfillment and delivery solution targeted specifically at the increasing complex needs of beverage distributors, including those in the beer, wine, spirits and soft drink segments. Sourcemap was founded in 2011, as the result of an MIT research project focused on automating supply chain risk analysis by combining supply chain visualization with risk probability heat maps. The software maps a company’s extended supply chain and allows for the monitoring of social and environmental indicators over time. Sourcery provides restaurants with real-time spend so that they can determine outliers, track high volume purchases, and make educated decisions on future purchases. Syrus is used by owners and executives of multi-unit restaurant organizations as well as restaurant operators and managers. The software offers labor scheduling, inventory, ordering tools and dedicated support to help troubleshoot food and labor cost issues and manage administrative tasks. Toast is largely known as a restaurant Point-of-Sale system, though the company’s restaurant inventory management software also offers the ability to track food inventory, suppliers, units, and prices on a computer, phone, or tablet. ToolsGroup is a global provider of supply chain planning and demand analytics software, allowing businesses to generate accurate forecasts through technology and scalable statistical models. ToolsGroup’s offerings span key supply chain planning areas such as demand forecasting, promotion forecasting and inventory optimization (MEIO). Trakbar allows bars to keep track of turnover, profit, inventory, staff and other important metrics. Bars can use the product to optimize their business by identifying trends and uncovering threats. WeissBeerger aims to bridge the gap between the brewery and the consumer, providing suppliers with access to consumption trends, beer quality, and bar inventory. Breweries can use the software to control promotions, actively manage inventory, and understand market dynamics. An intuitive dashboard allows suppliers to make real-time, data-driven decisions.
Unlike retail establishments, what a restaurant buys from its vendors and what it ultimately sells to guests can be entirely different, with ingredients subject to waste, theft, and over-production. Even more challenging is that products often come via multiple vendors, and are sometimes subject to few standards and processes. Accurately tracking inventory not only yields less waste, lower food costs, and higher profits, but it helps calculate the cost of goods sold and to better track food usage. Doing so through the use of software ensures better integration and more accuracy (especially beneficial when it comes to leaky profits). Conducting regular inventories has also been shown to increase restaurant profits by more than 20% each year, largely because it keeps companies from over-ordering. Of course, every restaurant understands the importance of tracking inventory — the real draw with restaurant inventory management software is that it allows operators to spend less manual work crunching numbers, focusing instead on analyzing data. “Data” is a term thrown around a lot in foodservice these days and, while it’s important, it doesn’t mean much if it isn’t analyzed. Inventory solutions empower chains to make better sense of data, leading to more intelligent decision-making that improves the bottom line.
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Aaron Allen & Associates is a leading global restaurant industry consultancy specializing in growth strategy, marketing, branding, and commercial due diligence for emerging restaurant chains and prestigious private equity firms. We have helped helped restaurant companies around the world drive revenues, increase profits, and enhance the guest experience through improved marketing, messaging, and menu engineering. Collectively, our clients post more than $100 billion, span all 6 inhabited continents and 100+ countries, with locations totaling tens of thousands.