For the first time, in 2017, Americans spent as much eating out as they did eating at home. With this growing demand for food service establishments, the number of local and regional coffee shops has grown tremendously in the last 2 years. But, fifty percent of small businesses close within four years of opening.
The scale of national coffee chains provides advantages completely out of reach of small businesses. Huge companies like Starbucks invest in supply chain and operations software that turns inventory management into a science. This technology combined with specialized procurement teams ensure they always have the right inventory on hand — from cups to beans, milk to pastries — at the lowest possible price.
Contrast that with what the owner of a local shop does when she runs out of coffee cups: a quick run to the local store for overpriced goods to keep the shop running, or an early close of business until the next order arrives. This holds true even for local and regional coffee chains where baristas have to fit in placing orders and counting inventory in between serving customers. The small business portion of the $270 billion food purchasing industry is powered by little more than intuition, pen and paper, and desperate runs to the corner store to restock the milk fridge.
That is, until now.
Today, we’re announcing Odeko, an intelligent, end-to-end inventory management tool to help the little guys optimize their purchasing. Odeko combines past sales data with weather and public calendar information to automatically predict and place orders for exactly what our customers need.
For the last year, we’ve been quietly working with a handful of top coffee shop brands including Birch Coffee in New York and La Colombe, based in Philadelphia. The results are clear: the profits of top performing locations are up 13% and food waste is down by up to 50% across all locations. Fewer pastries are getting thrown away, and less capital is locked in inventory waiting to be used. In addition, store leads report freeing up to five hours per week not having to place orders themselves.
“The results are clear: the profits of top performing locations are up 13% and food waste is down by up to 50% across all locations.”
Predicting and ordering inventory for coffee shops is just the starting point. In the future, we plan to add additional features to Odeko to help them leverage a multi-tenant delivery network, take back storage space, and drive revenue per store square foot. Local coffee chains will have the tools to measure and coach inventory process in each location. By 2020, Odeko will empower coffee shops to implement these business improvements and more.
We want to thank our early customers who put their faith in us for the last year. We started with four Birch Coffee locations, and learned so much from Jeremy, Jesse, Paul, and their team: how to gain the trust of the in-store team to which reports would help demonstrate success and how to build relationships with vendors so that everyone wins. La Colombe helped bring us to D.C., Los Angeles, and across the US. We’re learning to work with commissary models, and with coffee chains where every location has its own vendor list.
And we’re able to continue to grow both our team and our product offering because of our investors, First Round and Primary Ventures, who have joined us on this journey.