The advancements of new technology continue to have a profound effect on the future of retail bakery.

In a prime example, Faction Technology, Inc., a driverless-technology company offering solutions that solve inefficiencies in micro-logistics and vehicles on demand, has announced it is bringing driverless delivery to portions of the San Francisco Bay Area.

Faction’s first partner is Cocola Bakery, which is using Faction to reliably deliver to its customers around the metro region.

“Cocola Bakery and our customers have been ecstatic with the services Faction has provided us so far,” said Amir Aliabadi, chief executive officer of Cocola Bakery. “We are now able to quickly, affordably, and reliably deliver our products to customers around the Bay Area, something we couldn’t easily accomplish before due to inconsistent gig-worker services.”

Deliveries will be made in lightweight, electric vehicles based on three-wheel EV platforms from Arcimoto, Inc. and from ElectraMeccanica.

Since July, Faction has made regular deliveries to the bakery’s customers and it’s now looking to add additional delivery partners in the coming months.

Equipped with Faction’s DriveLink® and TeleAssist® technologies, the company’s vehicle fleet combines autonomy with remote human teleoperation to carry out its deliveries. These technologies allow Faction to provide businesses like Cocola Bakery with a delivery service that seamlessly delivers goods via a driverless fleet in an affordable, safe, and predictable way.

Through this initial launch, Faction continues to develop the technology powering its remote and driverless delivery solutions. New customer routes are first qualified with vehicles using safety drivers, in addition to being supervised by TeleAssist operators. System performance and road data are collected during every delivery to aid Faction in consistently improving its technology and further expanding its services for Cocola Bakery and future customers.

“Our partnership with Cocola is just the beginning of what we have planned for Faction,” said Faction chief executive officer Ain McKendrick.

“We’re achieving our cost and delivery targets while securing the data necessary to bring Faction and our technology to more partners in the coming year. The next phase is to make our services available to additional commercial customers in the Bay Area – restaurant chains, hardware stores, auto parts stores, and others – to maximize the use of our operating fleet while streamlining delivery in an affordable, reliable, and seamless way.”

Expansion trail

Faction is expanding its delivery services within the San Francisco Bay Area. The company is currently opening up driverless delivery for other partners starting at under $2 per mile. Businesses interested in Faction and what its technology can do for them should contact Faction.

Faction Technology, Inc. is a Silicon Valley startup that develops driverless solutions based on light electric vehicles. Founded in February 2020, Faction is on a mission to revolutionize micro-logistics and vehicles-on-demand. The company believes the future of sustainable transportation is to develop driverless vehicles that are safe, cost-effective, and right-sized to serve a range of use cases for both business and passenger transportation needs. Faction currently powers driverless delivery in parts of the San Francisco Bay Area and will expand into other metro regions in 2023.

Faction also partnered with GoCar Tours, Inc., to facilitate driverless delivery of GoCar EV Sport Tour vehicles from GoCar's depots to select pickup counters at partner locations in cities including Las Vegas, Monterey, San Francisco, and San Diego.

Buddy V’s Cake Slice


Buddy Valastro, of Carlo's Bakery and Buddy V's Cake Slice

In 2021, television personality “Cake Boss” Buddy Valastro launched his own virtual brand, Buddy V’s Cake Slice, in partnership with Virtual Dining Concepts. The program continues to expand nationally. Valastro burst onto the scene in 2009 with the debut of his hit reality TV show Cake Boss, but he has been in the baking business for his entire life.

Buddy V’s decadent cakes are baked in his Hoboken, New Jersey bakery, Carlos Bakery. Customers order their slices of cake from Buddy V’s Cake Slice and taste the latest craze in delivery-only restaurants.

“We bring you a turnkey solution on how to put a virtual restaurant within your kitchen” VDC explains. “Build multiple concepts out of one kitchen and create a more profitable delivery business. Start with zero up-front fees, cut your costs in half and improve your margins. Our concepts give you an all-in-one solution for training, marketing, purchasing, and fulfillment. Get the marketing power of a national chain on your side.”

Cake slices are individually packaged at Carlo’s Bakery as soon as the cakes are out of the oven, cooled down and frosted, quickly frozen for shipment to ensure peak freshness and deliciousness. The cake slices are distributed to restaurants across the country and made available for online orders through the website, third-party delivery carriers and his app available for download from the Apple Store or Google Play.

Buddy V’s Cake Slice is available for delivery in select cities across the country, with additional locations added on a weekly basis, through its website as well as most third-party delivery carriers.

Valastro, proprietor of Carlo’s Bakery and star of numerous hit shows on TLC, has selected his most popular cake flavors for the new delivery-only brand. Buddy V’s Cake Slice features five choices: Confetti, Vanilla Rainbow, Fudge, Red Velvet and Black and White Fudge with more flavors to follow.

“Now you can enjoy your favorite New Jersey baker’s cake slices with your favorite people—delivered right to your door,” says Valastro. “It’s cake Hoboken-style, baby!”

Drone Delivery

Drone-based delivery is gaining footholds in pockets of commerce around the country. From suburban shopping centers near major airports and cities to single-lane, 55-mph, blink-and-you-might-miss-’em towns with one, singular solution for grocery, retail, goods, and services, drone delivery can offer a more efficient, safer, and most of all less expensive option for restaurant and retail.

For many consumers, drone-based apps offer the same service (and possibly greater value) for delivery than brands like DoorDash and Instacart. For consumers in areas with drone-based services, it may make more sense to look to the sky (and not across the driveway) for their tacos, pizza, and more.

“There are a number of opportunities for both retailers and consumers in the drone delivery space,” said Eyal Yair, CEO of 1MRobotics, in an interview with The Food Institute.

“Retailers can benefit from the cost savings and efficiency of drone delivery, while consumers can benefit from the convenience and accessibility of this delivery method. In addition, drone delivery has the potential to create new jobs and business opportunities in the logistics and transportation industries.”

Once touted as the future of small-volume delivery, drones have come a long way since their post-millennium debut as both tool and toy, and many companies and brands now offer drone delivery services as an alternative to eat-in, takeout, and delivery.

Other considerations

While customers are increasingly moving online and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future, bakeries are still brick and mortar operations, points out Mike Clements, owner at BakeSmart.

“Based on what I continue to hear from our baker friends about the labor market, asking staff to bridge this disconnect between analog and digital is just not a reasonable option,” he says. “Automation, wherever and whenever possible looks to be the key to success in our evolving economy. Using software that allows your brick-and-mortar store to give real time inventory updates to your online store ensures that you’re not over-committing product and creating unhappy customers and stressed out staff, which can avoid a volatile situation!”

Push customers online. If you have an automated phone system, tell your customers to go to your website to place their orders. Put links in all of your social pointing customers to your online store. Reward those customers that use your online store by setting up a separate online order pickup queue in your bakery. Since those orders are already paid for, it doesn’t make sense to force them through your cash register queue.

“And for the love of all things cannoli, make your store hours of operation easy to find on your website,” Clements emphasizes.

If you sell to wholesale customers, get them used to ordering online as well. “I talk to bakery owners every week that are drowning in text messages, emails, voicemails,” he says. Empower them to manage their own orders and reclaim those labor costs spent chasing after that usually already discounted business.

Make customization a breeze. You do complicated things at your bakery, your customers like the custom options you offer, so it only makes sense to offer those customization options online, too.

“From designing a custom cake, to filling an assortment box with goodies, or building a custom sandwich order, your online bakery should be able to match (or come close to matching) the offerings inside the friendly confines of your store,” Clements says.

Efficient distribution

On the bakery equipment front, new technologies are being introduced to make the distribution process more efficient and mistake-free.

Hobart, for example, introduces the FreshXpress™ Omni Channel Order Fulfillment Software. This solution integrates omni channel retail orders with fresh department operations. Orders for items are deployed directly to the scale streamlining the order fulfillment process and increasing department efficiency. Designed to be integrated with existing web infrastructure, the FreshXpress app is a flexible, intuitive interface that allows fresh departments to meet consumer needs even faster.

The FreshXpress software provides an industry benchmark for fulfillment services with advanced features designed to keep operations running smoothly such as:

Increase Efficiency. Operators are notified at the scale of incoming orders, ensuring orders are fulfilled quickly and accurately.

Simplify Operations. Streamlines the flow of information from online orders directly to the fresh department.  Incoming orders are deployed directly to the scale eliminating the need for a separate device in the department.

Reduce Shrink. The scale logs the order and transactional data for future analysis helping with more accurate production planning and inventory control.

Reduce Errors. As the operator fulfills a line item, the PLU is automatically populated on the scale, reducing keystrokes and ensuring accuracy.

Increase Revenue. Because orders can be fulfilled more quickly, lines at the fresh counter are reduced increasing customer satisfaction and allowing more capacity for additional orders.

Palletizing robots

Companion_BruceBanner.jpgSource: Companion Baking


In other projects on the technology front, St. Louis-based Companion Baking’s new palletizing robot – affectionately called Bruce Banner (aka The Incredible Hulk) by the staff – enables this innovative St. Louis bakery the ability to achieve a higher level of production efficiency and equipment sophistication.

Companion’s latest projects have allowed them to carve out a unique niche as a mid-sized bread distributor with vast customization capabilities. Through semi-automation and tools such as Redzone, the baking company is able to produce around 150 different SKUs, five days a week, in an organized and efficient manner – all in a floor space of 42,000 square feet.

Each time dough is made, cut, or put in an oven, Redzone tracks timing and provides ways for the team to improve. In addition, it has served as a communication tool for employee onboarding and professional development. Since this realization, Companion has reduced its annual waste by over one million pounds in just two and a half years and is making strides to go to zero waste-to-landfill by 2025.

Further, shipping to 400-plus restaurants, grocery stores, and partners is no small feat. The green Companion robot assists with palletizing and heavy lifting, working around the clock so that labor can be dispersed to other areas of the bakery floor.