Software for meal prep business - Part 2:
Available solutions

Software for meal prep business - Part 2: Available solutions

Software for meal prep business - Part 2: Available solutions

In the first part of the article, we discussed the most important components and functions of software for the meal prep business. In this part, we will focus on the analysis of available solutions, paying attention to the pros and cons of each approach.


System for a meal prep business - various options

We will analyze the available options fairly extensively, considering other alternatives besides purchasing a ready-made CRM/ERP software for meal prep business in a cloud-based model, which is the most popular and is the best solution for most companies.


A system dedicated to meal prep business

By a dedicated system, we mean the creation from scratch of an entire system for managing meal prep company by a software development company (software house). For some companies, this is an attractive option, especially if they have a well-thought-out vision of new, innovative features and processes that no other available system offers. Additionally, by implementing a dedicated system, it is possible to include clauses in the agreement regarding the transfer of copyright to the system or the granting of an exclusive license and transfer of source code. In other words, it is possible to become the owner of the system and build a competitive advantage by using software not available to other caterers.

Although the vision of having your own innovative software that is better than the competition is very attractive, it must be clear that this option is only for a few. Creating a dedicated system from scratch is very expensive, time-consuming, difficult, and risky because, as with any IT project, the final success is not guaranteed and there are many pitfalls along the way. Therefore, if you do not have a budget of at least one hundred thousand dollars to start, a reliable software house, and a lot of time to build the system, abandon the idea of creating your own dedicated system from scratch as soon as possible.

If you absolutely want to implement unique functionalities that are not offered by any available solution on the market or if you want to customize the system to your needs in a different way, then creating a "clone" of an existing CRM / ERP system for meal prep companies based on the software of one of the providers who offer such a possibility, like NutriBot, is definitely a more rational option. In the rest of the article, we will discuss this approach in more detail.


Pros and cons of a system dedicated to meal prep business

Pros:

•    Possibility to implement own innovative ideas for new functionalities

•    Best adaptation of software to company processes

•    Possibility to build a competitive advantage in software and stand out

•    Transfer of copyright or granting an exclusive license to the software

•    Possession of the system source codes and the ability to modify them freely in the future

•    Possibility to choose any payment operator


Cons:

•    Very high implementation costs

•    Very high level of complexity requiring human resources with competencies in managing complex projects

•    Long project implementation time

•    Many obstacles along the way

•    High costs of maintaining a dedicated system (own servers, dedicated technical support from the software house)

•    Constant, costly system development in pursuit of the competition


Online store + program for a dietician

Another solution that is still quite common is the use of an ordinary online store for online sales and order and customer management in conjunction with external software for arranging and balancing menus, such as Nutrical or KCalmar. The online store is only to a basic extent adapted to the specifics of meal prep, as long as the configuration of a given product or the budget for programming work allows it. You can use one of the many online stores available as a subscription, offered in the SaaS model, or choose an open-source solution that is theoretically completely free. In theory, if you are not a programmer, you have to pay a specialist for installation, configuration, and adaptation of the store to the meal prep service and then maintenance and service, and it is usually quite a lot.

The online store is usually supplemented by a program for dieticians, which, however, is not integrated with the store in any way. Yet another program is used to print labels for bags and boxes. The back office of the online store does not provide any reports needed on a daily basis in the work of meal prep business, such as a shopping list, dishes to be prepared with the number of needed ingredients or a packing report, which usually necessitates the creation of various types of original spreadsheets aggregating data and calculations.


Pros and cons of an online store + program for a dietician

Pros:

•    Providing the minimum functionality necessary to sell online, handle payments and manage customers and orders

•    The use of programs well known by dieticians, in which they also prepare individual diets for their patients

•    Low monthly subscription costs for a store available in the cloud or the possibility of using free open-source solutions

•    A large selection of solutions available on the market (online stores)

•    Great customization of the appearance of the store by choosing different "skins" and the ordering process


Cons:

•    Lack of integration between different programs used by the company

•    Lack of many functions specific to the meal prep / meal plan service described in, in particular, automatically generated reports for the kitchen, label printing, advanced meal plan management at the level of individual days of ordering

•    No mobile apps for customers to manage their meal plans

•    No mobile application for drivers integrated with the system

•    The need for employees to devote more time to performing repetitive tasks related to manual data entry, data export / import between different systems (lack of process automation)


The described solution is often the first choice for newly established meal prep companies due to slightly lower monthly costs for software or lack of knowledge about the existence and capabilities of specialized systems for meal prep business. Over time, however, companies usually notice the functional limitations of an ordinary online store and look for optimization of time and labour costs by switching to one of the specialized systems for the meal plan industry.


eCommerce / CRM / ERP system for meal prep business in the cloud

For the vast majority of meal prep / meal plan businesses, the optimal solution is currently to choose one of several specialized eCommerce / CRM / ERP systems available on the market to support meal prep companies. Typical components and functions of such a system are described in detail in the first part of the article - Software for meal prep business - Part 1: What to look for?

This type of software addresses all processes occurring in meal prep business and provides integrated IT tools for the entire company’s team:

  • Dietetics
  • Cooks
  • Drivers
  • Managers
  • Customers
  • Marketing specialists

Leading providers of meal prep software offer their solutions in the subscription model. The monthly cost of the software is usually several hundred US dollars. The choice of a specific supplier is also usually associated with the commission on each order paid by customers online.  The amount of commission depends on the volume of turnover – a large company providing several hundred subscriptions a day can count on more attractive conditions than a company, which is just starting.

By opting for a cloud solution, you do not acquire any rights to the software, except for the right to use all system functions as long as the subscription and ownership of the data entered into the system (customers, orders, regulations, etc.) are paid. You will not receive the source codes of the system for sure and you cannot make any functional changes to the system yourself. On the other hand, you pay only a fraction of the value of the software and you do not have to worry about IT infrastructure, data backups and system maintenance.

What is worth paying attention to when choosing a software provider in addition to the functionality of the system?


Implementation cost

Does the provider, in addition to the monthly subscription, charge a one-time implementation fee, and if so, in what amount?


How to integrate a web store with a company website

Is the web store available in the cloud on the provider's servers or does it have to be installed on the server where the company site is located?  Can the store be launched on the same domain/subdomain as the company site?


SEO

Is it possible to create your own website for positioning purposes and connect it to the system?


Technological limitations

Are there any pre-imposed restrictions or requirements for a company website to integrate a web store with it? Does it have to be based on a specific CMS or written in a specific programming language?


Implementation time

How long does it take to deploy? Is it a matter of hours, days or weeks?


Duration of the contract and notice period

For what period of time is the contract concluded and what is the notice period?


Who is the controller of personal data

Is the meal prep company the controller of personal data and does it own the customer database and regulations? Does the supplier not pass on customer data to anyone or send offers to other companies?


On which servers customer data and GDPR compliance are located

Are customer and order data stored on servers close to your location? Due to the provisions of the GDPR, the recommended location for storing personal data is the European Union.


Free system updates

Does the company automatically receive access to all new system functions as part of the monthly subscription or is an additional payment necessary?


Legal documents

Will you receive templates of documents necessary to conduct online sales, such as regulations and privacy policies?


The technology of mobile applications and ratings in app stores

Are the iOS and Android mobile applications made natively, which guarantees the best experience for the customer or have they been implemented as a simple website "wrapped" in the framework of the application? What are the app ratings on the App Store and Google Play?


Pros and cons of a eCommerce / CRM / ERP system for meal prep business in the cloud

Pros:

•    Very large number of functions

•    Full integration and automation of processes in meal prep business

•    Mobile apps for customers and drivers

•    Affordable even for the smallest companies

•    Full server infrastructure, scalability, performance, data security and technical support included in the subscription price

•    Short implementation time


Cons:

•    Little possibility to change the appearance of the web store and mobile applications and the ordering process

•    No possibility to make changes to the functionality of the system

•    No copyrights or source codes of the system are transferred

•    Payment operator most often imposed by the provider


One of the most popular systems for meal prep business offered in the cloud model is NutriBot. The system combines a lot of advanced functions, the best mobile applications for customers on the market (average rating 4.9 / 5.0) and very favourable financial conditions:

•    No or very low implementation costs

•    Low monthly subscription

•    No long-term commitments

•    Operating the system from a web browser

•    No additional software installation is required

•    Free updates

•    Instant access to the latest features

•    Express configuration and commissioning of the system

•    Simple integration with the company website

•    Start even within 24 hours


A system dedicated to meal prep business based on existing eCommerce / CRM / ERP software

The last approach we will discuss will be the implementation of a dedicated system based on CRM / ERP software for meal prep business and tailored to the requirements of a given company. Not all suppliers offer this possibility, as it requires an individual approach and additional work related to the adaptation and implementation of the system.

The scope of such a dedicated implementation can be very different and the valuation is always individually determined by the company. What can be the variants of such a dedicated implementation? Here are some examples:

•    Implementation of the system without any functional changes, but with dedicated mobile applications available in the App Store and Google Play under the company brand (the most common case)

•    Implementation of the system on separate servers indicated by the company in order to separate the database and increase independence from the supplier

•    Implementation of the system in a version adapted to the franchise network of meal prep company, where part of the functionality is available centrally to the franchisor and part to franchisees

•    Implementation of the system with simultaneous transfer of source codes and granting a license to make further changes in the system without the participation of the supplier

•    Implementation of the system with a dedicated website store tailored to the specific needs and requirements of the meal prep company


The costs of dedicated implementation can be very different and depend primarily on the scope of the license, transfer of source codes and the scope of programming work. In the case of the NutriBot system, the cost of the simplest dedicated implementation without functional changes, but with dedicated mobile applications, starts from several thousand US dollars, this is an affordable option for most meal prep companies.


Pros and cons of a system dedicated to meal prep company based on existing CRM / ERP software

Pros:

•    Significantly lower costs and shorter implementation time compared to a dedicated system created from scratch

•    The ability to stand out, for example, with your own mobile application or web store

•    Possibility to use the software in a different model than SaaS and become independent from the provider (separate servers, transfer of source codes, license allowing to make changes in the system)


Cons:

•    Longer deployment time than a standard cloud solution

•    Higher monthly maintenance costs (subscription) resulting from the fact that as part of the implementation, additional IT infrastructure and applications are created, which must be additionally monitored, serviced, updated and backed up

•    One-time implementation fee, which can be avoided by choosing a standard solution available in the cloud


Summary

For 90% of meal prep companies, the optimal solution is to choose a ready-made eCommerce / CRM / ERP system available in the cloud and offered in the SaaS model.

For companies who want to stand out or have specific requirements in terms of server infrastructure, security, business model or system functionality itself, a dedicated system based on eCommerce / CRM / ERP software for meal prep business is an option worth considering and affordable.

Creating your own meal prep business system from scratch is a bad solution for 99% of companies.

The variant based on an ordinary online store has big limitations compared to eCommerce / CRM / ERP class systems for the meal prep industry, and the savings are only apparent. Already at the start, it is not worth considering such a solution, because practice shows that after a few months or years, a company that has chosen an online store still switches to specialized eCommerce / CRM / ERP systems.

If you are looking for a proven eCommerce / CRM / ERP system for meal prep business available in the cloud and offered in the SaaS model, we invite you to familiarize yourself with the NutriBot offer and arrange a presentation of the system and test the Demo version.

Software for meal prep business - Part 1: What to look for?

Want to check more software info or have a specific questions?