With automation and digitalization disrupting the retail world, the restaurant industry has been left behind for its lack of systematic, digitalized inventory tracking, which has led to massive food waste. Around four to 10 percent of food purchased by a restaurant or foodservice operation is discarded before ever reaching a guest.
Now, an Israeli startup with U.S. headquarters in Chicago wants to provide a digital solution for restaurants’ back-of-house operations to help them reduce food waste.
SimpleOrder, founded in 2012, helps restaurants manage their supply chain with a cloud-based platform that can manage everything from purchasing and suppliers to inventory tracking and recipe costs.
SimpleOrder’s automated Inventory Management System calculates inventory levels in real-time by housing actual recipes and integrating with online sales platforms like Square, UpServe’s Breadcrumb POS and Clover. It automatically deducts from inventory each time a dish is sold and identifies when inventory levels for a specific ingredient drop below a pre-identified threshold to automatically create an order.
The system is also designed to connect restaurants with suppliers, helping restaurants place orders, house different invoices and update quantity of the inventory after every shipment.
“Every bit of what we handle is typically and historically done on pen and paper throughout the restaurant industry,” said Jeremy Goodman, the head of North American sales for SimpleOrder. “We are now automating and centralizing that, and putting it in the cloud to make the most out of the data that we’re aggregating.”
The cloud-based platform has been reported to save up to 30 work-hours for customers per month and reduce the overall food cost somewhere between 5 and 8 percent per year, according to Goodman.
The company has raised $4.5 million to date, according to Crunchbase. It has 8 employees at its Chicago office in the loop and 25 employees in Israel.
SimpleOrder is currently serving more than 2,300 locations, which represents 1,700 businesses, including restaurants, chains, and suppliers in 25 countries, principally in the U.S., U.K. and the German-speaking markets.
SimpleOrder entered the U.S. market in 2015. After announcing an aggressive growth plan in North America this year, the company has experienced robust growth with a monthly gain of 50 to 60 new clients, adding to a total of 700 across the nation. It expects to triple its client base in North America in 2018.
SimpleOrder has recently decided to build its local footprint in Chicago by targeting locally owned, mom-and-pop eateries and small chains, which are generally believed to have a higher failure rate.
“Chicago is arguably the epicenter for food in this country,” Goodman said. “A lot of people think that it would either be New York or San Francisco, but in terms of the innovation, a lot of the new and upcoming things start from here in Chicago and this is also one of the most passionate food cities in the entire country.”
It now serves 22 businesses in Chicago, including Centennial Crafted Beer & Eatery in River North and Dollop Bakery.
One of the biggest challenges SimpleOrder has faced is getting people to convert to a digital mindset and change the way they process things, Goodman said.
“[The digitalized inventory management] is going to be a game changer,” Goodman said. “It’s just a matter of who wants to be on board early.”
Correction: One of the businesses SimpleOrder serves is the Dollop Bakery. It incorrectly stated as the Dollop Coffee Co.