Scaling a business takes motivation and effort, but it also takes careful planning. To scale successfully, a business can’t just set up a foolproof plan and then expect the business to grow on its own; nor can it launch with no plan in place and expect to adapt as it grows. A business will only scale continually if it’s prepared every step of the way, across every area of its operations. These truths will bear out for any business, but there’s no industry where they’re more relevant than the foodservice industry.
Whether it’s a counter-service-only storefront kitchen or an international food distributor, any company in the foodservice industry is going to need to process a lot of orders. Some of those orders come from restaurants or other smaller distributors; many more come from customers themselves. With takeout and delivery becoming the norm in an increasingly remote world, restaurants and other foodservice providers are taking more orders than ever. For these companies to be able to track orders and transactions and keep a reliable archive of all the information associated with each, they will need scalable solutions that can handle considerable volume. For building and hosting solutions like these, there is no alternative to the cloud.
The cloud has more data capacity and more native security infrastructure than a lot of significantly more expensive on-premise architecture. Cloud service providers share the responsibility of security, so the burden of maintaining security systems on-prem will not fall to the business. Also, small and startup businesses managing the kind of data volumes that foodservice companies will collect cannot risk hardware failure if they hope to scale. Backing up data on a secure and adaptable platform like the cloud will be essential to growth for these companies.
The primary advantage of cloud adoption for early stage concepts is the relatively low cost of cloud services. Businesses aiming to bring a product to market quickly can do so much more easily when they are buying services as they go for a small technical team instead of paying hundreds of thousands of dollars up front for a full on-premise architecture. Numbers are showing that businesses are not passing up this chance at major savings: according to a recent Forbes Currents report, “86 percent of startups and small businesses increased their reliance on cloud services in 2021.”
Once a business establishes product-market fit, its main challenge will be to scale successfully. This is a crucial juncture for young businesses, and a point at which too many fail. To scale successfully at this stage, a business needs a plan and a set of processes in place that will support its growth as revenue and staff increases; this comes before throwing money at sales and marketing initiatives with the goal of bringing in revenue and increasing hiring. A growing business needs a dynamic, flexible architecture. Using tools like Google’s CloudSQL to build a microservices architecture on a scalable platform like the Google Kubernetes Engine or the fully serverless Google Cloud Run will set businesses up to support and maintain their processes as they expand staffing and income.
There are many resources available on Google Cloud that businesses in the foodservice industry can use to build scalable processes and systems. Restaurants can use Google My Business to create a business profile and partner with third-party delivery services to make their delivery options available on Google Maps and via Google search. Using Google Maps Platform, businesses can work with independent software vendors like Olo to develop a unique online delivery platform. Other vendors like Route 4 Me Route Planner provide mapping options that show delivery people the best routes to their destinations.
For businesses that want more control of their own systems, it’s also easy using Google Maps Platform to build a delivery solution in house. Using APIs like Autocomplete API, Geocoding API, Distance Matrix API, and Directions API, in-house development teams can build a platform that can assess ETA and distance, position delivery addresses, and reduce delivery errors and checkout friction. In-house solutions allow for customization and total oversight, without sacrificing any of the security or scalability advantages the cloud affords.
Commercial kitchens that prepare orders exclusively for takeout or delivery are called “cloud kitchens” for a reason. Foodservice and customer preferences are changing in step with the advancement of digital technology and the new opportunities this advancement offers in a world where the future is always uncertain. As the industry evolves to meet new needs and challenges, small and startup businesses in this space will need to develop a range of solutions that can address any contingency, but also maintain processes as these businesses scale to bring in more revenue and grow their teams to manage it. In the future, whatever its business model looks like, one way or another, every kitchen will operate on the cloud.
Josh Berman is president of C2C Global and an expert in community building with a long track record of establishing connections between technology companies and their target audiences. In his role at C2C Global, Josh curates and facilitates timely industry discussions for cloud users—oftentimes having representatives from partner organizations take part to provide expert commentary on how to use the cloud for success. He brings together thousands of users a day to collaborate to solve problems such as cybersecurity, data management, cloud storage and management and eCommerce issues.