Any bakery that produces fresh goods for their customers every day has a fundamental challenge on their hands: how to make the right amount of each product to satisfy their customer’s needs while minimizing waste. This involves a lot of number-crunching, so it is perhaps not surprising that craft bakeries were very early adopters of software.
Amazingly, the very first use of a computer in a business was in a chain of retail bakeries/tea rooms; in the early 1950s, Lyons Tea Rooms in England used a computer to amalgamate daily orders phoned in every afternoon by the shops and hence calculate overnight production requirements.
How times have changed.
Jane Tyler, managing director for Cybake, based in York, United Kingdom, explains that Cybake delivers the benefits of any good bakery software package, including the prime function of enabling bakers to consolidate their orders into production requirements.
Cybake is part of RedBlack Software Limited, York, and operates a US office in Philadelphia.
Next gen solutions
The latest generation of bakery software offers bakers all these benefits but in the new context of a world where the internet rules.
Cybake is cloud-based, which enables anybody connected to the business to access it, whether that is clients, delivery drivers or production staff. Bakery software is no longer something that sits in the bakery office only used by the very few people who know how to work it. Contemporary 21st century bakery software like Cybake is easy for everybody to use and critically it is mobile-enabled. The software has been specifically designed so that the customers of a bakery can place orders using any device. These days, people expect to be able to use their cell-phones to place orders; they are also increasingly expecting deliveries to be made paper-free with an electronic signature or a photo as proof of delivery.
A cloud-based solution takes away the challenges of having to manage the hardware to run the applications you need for your business. All you need is a web browser and an internet connection, and you can access your data anytime, anywhere. You avoid the (potentially) significant upfront investment costs in computer equipment and just access the software like a utility.
The problems that historically needed to be considered (depreciation, maintenance, updates, backups, etc) are moved to us as a vendor and Cybake specializes in managing those as part of the package, leaving you to get on with using the application to maximise your business potential.
It is really important to distinguish between true cloud software that has been built on a cloud architecture and offers all the advantages of today’s internet applications and “fake cloud” which is old software that has been dressed up to look like it is web-enabled, Tyler says.
Even a basic bakery software package should save a baker a lot of time and administrative effort on a daily basis, by managing standing orders, generating production information and producing invoices in a batch. This equates to a clear saving on labor costs and for a smaller operation where the owners are personally doing all the admin, it enables them to focus on growing their business or simply improving their work/life balance! Some bakery software packages, including Cybake, also offer additional business support functions such as recipe costing and purchasing.
“Cybake helps bakeries reduce costs, increase sales and improve efficiency. Every feature of our software directly or indirectly delivers one of these benefits. It is not easy running a craft bakery so we aim to help our customers be as profitable and as efficient as possible,” Tyler explains.
Solutions for every need
Cybake’s head of development, Alasdair Goodfellow, offers a rundown of benefits:
“Cloud based – It is a true SaaS product, not just a lift and shift of your server to someone else’s building. We provide a platform that we update monthly with new features and functionality that every client benefits from automatically. We can scale the platform as required for customer demand, while enabling benefits of scale that in individual client solutions simply wouldn’t be cost effective for the client.”
Integration with other cloud-based tools (Accounts packages, Google) – With the platform being fully hosted in the cloud, it enables and simplifies the integration with other cloud-based applications and services. “We can get data from other services and embed it directly into the solution, and we can share data with other services or suppliers you might be using (Labelling, Weighing, Epos, suppliers etc).”
It also offers mobility in a way that local software can’t. If you have a locally installed software in your office, without VPN services you might struggle to even access your software from home. If a local road repair cuts through a cable outside your office, then you could be without remote access to your data for days. “By hosting our platform in the cloud with Microsoft we enable you access to your application via a web browser anytime anywhere.”
Modern approach to User Design, losing the 'old fashioned look' – Application design has changed a lot in the past 20 years, but there are plenty of software applications that still look like the systems of yesteryear with their bulky and ‘database’ looking interfaces. “We are trying to provide an intuitive user experience, where doing the right thing is easy and user training can be minimized.”
Constantly evolving – Information Technology doesn’t stand still and new products, features and services are constantly being provided by third parties. “As a SaaS solution we can leverage these new services to improve and extend our platform for all clients using it, rather than having to add to and update multiple client specific on-premise solutions.”
Customers in the US
Initially, Cybake would like to work predominantly with craft bakeries in the United States, both retail and wholesale, as they believe that these businesses are the ones in most need of a generational update of their systems.
“These bakeries produce and deliver a wide range of fresh goods on a daily basis; they are one of the most challenging of manufacturing environments so their IT needs are very niche/specialised. This means that there are not many choices of software available and most of those are based on 20th century technology. If, on the other hand, you are a bakery producing long-life or frozen products, you may be able to use a generic ERP system rather than a specialized bakery software package,” Tyler explains.
Cybake’s key goals in the US?
“We would like to help as many craft bakeries as possible move to a modern, cloud-based, mobile software package as we firmly believe this will help them not only survive but thrive in the coming years,” Tyler says.
“There are many bakeries that are still using really old systems, which will increasingly become a lead-weight for them.”
Specific advantages of Cybake relate a host of factors:
- Business administration
- Operational efficiency
Retail bakeries can dramatically cut the admin involved in managing retail orders and inventory management reconciliation. Stores enter all required data (orders, deliveries, waste, stock takes) on a tablet and this information feeds directly into inventory reconciliation reports.
For wholesale bakeries, paper-free deliveries means an end to the time-consuming task of amending invoices or raising credits to match what was actually delivered.
Proof-of-delivery signatures and photos reduce time spent managing disputed deliveries.
Route planning and optimisation. Time saved planning routes as well as time saved on the routes.
We believe that bakers should only have to maintain their recipes in one system. We often find bakeries that have their production recipes in one system, their nutritional information in another and their costings in a spreadsheet. Craft bakeries are far too busy to be duplicating data like this.
Cybake’s specialised sales order processing system helps bakeries deliver the best customer service possible. Clearly bakeries rely heavily on repeat business with many customers placing orders with them on a daily basis; it is absolutely critical to customer retention that they fulfil these orders as closely as possible, that deliveries are timely and that invoices are accurate.
So how does a baker get started with the subscription-based application?
“It’s very simple,” Tyler explains. “We work with the bakery to move their data from their current system into Cybake; we have done many migrations and have got it down to a fine art! Once their Cybake is set up with their data, we give them full training then they usually do a “parallel run” for a few days before going live. This is to ensure that all the production reports and invoices are accurate.”
Subscription fees are commensurate with the size of their business and the modules they wish to use.
“We firmly believe that Cybake should be accessible to all sizes of bakery and our pricing model reflects that. Even start-ups and micro-bakeries are warmly welcome,” she says.
Bakery shop chains would find Cybake’s Retail module invaluable to help them forecast their shop orders and to manage shop inventory; “for this, we would need to integrate to their POS system, a straightforward task. For single bakery shops, they would find Cybake beneficial if they are handling a lot of special customer orders; this has been a big growth area due to covid. Many shops choose to access Cybake on a tablet as this is easier for recording deliveries and stock takes; however, it is also possible to access Cybake on a till/POS system.”
The beauty of Cybake is that there are no basic computer requirements. They can access Cybake from any PC and most devices,
Late last year, Oprah Davidson joined the company as Business Development Manager of Cybake’s North American division. She brings a wealth of hands-on experience in baking.
“Oprah’s role is to ensure that US and Canadian bakeries are aware of Cybake and particularly of the generational shift that Cybake represents. Oprah is a baker first and foremost so we believe she is well positioned to explain how Cybake can help a bakery grow and develop,” Tyler says. “Oprah will be the first to admit that she is not very technical, but we hope that this will help rather than hinder her conversations with the industry.”
Moving forward, Cybake looks at artificial intelligence playing an increasing role in helping bakeries forecast their production. This will particularly be the case for larger retail bakery chains but also medium-sized operations that produce fresh goods for the retail sector.
“We already have an integration with CatsAI, who are specialists in AI for the bakery sector, using factors such as the weather and events as well, of course, as sales history to predict demand.
This is a technology that bakeries have hardly started to explore but we are ready when they are!”
Cybake offers specialist sales order processing for craft bakeries; this includes easy management of standing orders, a weekly ordering screen, order adjustments (eg. shortages, extras, returns) and batch invoicing with automated error checking. Orders can be input directly by wholesale customers using a contemporary online ordering system which includes nutritional and allergen information. Similarly, retail staff can view suggested orders on tablets and amend as required; this removes a significant administrative task at head office.
Cybake includes a comprehensive suite of production reports including order summaries, mix sheets, packing arrays and lists. We pride ourselves on configuring these reports to suit each individual bakery, enabling them to get all the production information they need each day with just a couple of clicks.
Cybake has a richly functional recipe management system which serves three distinct purposes: it provides the basic recipe data needed for production reports including detailed instructions, it enables the bakery to view finished product costs and margins and it calculates essential information about the nutritional and allergen profiles.
For a retail operation, Cybake offers the following functionality around waste:
- Simple, quick capture of waste quantities by retail staff, typically using a tablet.
- Demand forecasting for each product in each outlet, using historical sales data and other key factors. The bakery can specify the desired waste percentages for each product category, helping them optimise levels of waste in each store.
- Business intelligence reporting on waste.
Cybake also helps optimise batch sizes to minimize waste. This is of benefit to both retail and wholesale operations.
Retail staff can quickly and easily capture what has been delivered into their store each day. This is a key element of retail inventory management and reconciliation.
Cybake’s Purchasing module allows ingredient deliveries to be captured to ensure that supplier invoices are accurate.
Cybake offers round optimisation using Google Maps. This helps a bakery make their deliveries in the most efficient way possible, saving both time and fuel.
“Wherever possible, our integrations are API-based meaning that data flows smoothly between the two systems. We avoid wherever possible file-based integrations as these can be error-prone,” Tyler explains.
The power of AI
Cybake provides bakeries with unique artificial intelligence (AI) and business intelligence options to help them tighten operations.
As mentioned previously, Cybake’s integration with CatsAI gives bakeries access to the forecasting power of AI.
Cybake’s business intelligence report suite is based on Microsoft PowerBI. This give bakers graphical insights into key management data such as:
- Sales trends for products and customers.
- Margin trends for products and customers.
- Retail stock analysis
- Suggested order analysis