Why we filled the online ordering gap for wholesale bakeries

Wholesalers struggle to find a suitable platform to do e-business with their customers. Martin Coyle looks at the reasons why and what we’ve done to help with Cybake Inbound.

If you are a wholesale baker, the benefits of having a system by which your customers can place their orders online are clear.

Firstly, it is super-convenient for your customers. If you were running a busy restaurant, for example, which would you prefer; making or receiving a daily phone call while you scrabble with your paperwork, or ordering online via a screen that shows you what you have on standing order and what you’ve ordered before?

Secondly, it’s extremely convenient for you. While your customers get to make their orders via their mobiles, tablets or PCs when it suits them, you get more accurate orders, meaning less waste.

You also get to cut the phone bills and staff costs associated with taking orders and rectifying errors. Plus, new accounts are attracted by the convenience of ordering online.

Looked at like this, every wholesale baker should have marched off and bought themselves a web commerce system sometime around the turn of the century, right? After all, we live in an age in which you can buy practically anything from anywhere at the press of a virtual touch-screen button.

But it turns out that navigating this particular section of the digital superhighway has been fraught with difficulties for our sector.

Successful e-commerce

Of course, there are very many generic e-commerce systems to choose from that are aimed at retailers and wholesalers. Many are great if you are selling hardware or consumables, but none suit the needs of a busy bakery making perishable products on a daily basis with a wide and complex range.

Some retail bakers do have successful online operations exporting their often locally-specific delicacies all around the world. But these are nearly always bespoke systems designed by specialist web agencies.

These are expensive and the better bespoke systems are the product of many years of tinkering and modification, with all the additional cost this entails. Many require the baker to go back to their provider to make even minor adjustments.

The number of wholesale bakers that have invested in such systems is negligible. The more web-savvy make do with email or file sharing sites.

One other approach that we have come across is to let your wholesale customers place orders over the internet directly into your in-house bakery management or ERP system. In the Cybake team’s opinion, this leaves your internal systems exposed to the wider internet with all the security concerns this entails.

This model is also prone to errors from outside users – it’s nice to work in partnership with your customers but perhaps not that close. And, of course, it requires you to run the bakery management or ERP system in question in the first place.

Software as a Service

We’ve been getting the message that there was a big gap that needed filling for quite a while. During this time, we’ve become increasingly adept at developing cloud-based software as a service (SaaS) solutions using Microsoft’s Azure platform.

Cloud-based applications, like our Cybake Infood FIR compliance tool and our forecasting system Cybake Instore, can be set up easily and accessed on any web-enabled device. Our cloud apps are easier to deliver and configure at a lower cost than was previously possible. What’s more, customers don’t need to be running our flagship Cybake bakery management system to use them.

So we listened to our customers, applied our cloud skills and designed Cybake Inbound, a web-based ordering app for wholesale bakers that we announced in July, 2017.

For a small monthly subscription, we’ll set up your bakery with its own online product catalogue branded with your logo and colours. You can be up and running and taking orders with a fully-fledged system in days.

Judging from the feedback we’ve had so far, we couldn’t have created Cybake Inbound soon enough. But don’t take our word for it. If you would like to get a look and feel for how Cybake Inbound web orders work for yourself, why not get in touch and we’ll issue you with credentials to access our live demo.

Martin Coyle, CybakeMartin Coyle is the commercial director of Cybake creator RedBlack Software. As well as blogging about bakery management, he speaks regularly at food-related conferences throughout the UK and has written for British Baker magazine.