Scaling FoodCloud for global reach
What was delivered
B2C Marketplace serving web and native apps (Web, Android, iOS)
Integration middleware with integrations to Tesco UK & Ireland, Aldi
Backend platform with private food distribution networks for retailers, foodbanks and food producers
Published API to allow donors, foodbanks and charities to integrate their internal systems with the FoodCloud platform
Sector: B2C Marketplace
When: Started 2019
Services: Platform & App Development / CTO-As-A-Service
FoodCloud is a social enterprise that redistributes surplus food from major supermarket retailers to a network of food banks, charity and community partners.
From humble beginnings in 2012, FoodCloud now works with all the major supermarket chains in the UK & Ireland with accompanying operations in Canada, Central Europe and Australia.
The type of digital service FoodCloud delivers is unique and required an entirely new type of platform. Threadable teamed up with FoodCloud to deliver an optimum technology platform architecture to support the global ambitions of the business. Today, FoodCloud software manages the tracking, offering and re-distribution of thousands of food donations every day.
A platform to match potential
FoodCloud had attracted global interest in their technology, however their existing platform was not fit for this global vision of operations. Deadlines to relaunch the platform kept shifting while their stakeholder requirements kept expanding in complexity.
One of their investors, the National Digital Research Center recommended that they partner with Threadable. The goal was to find a solution that would allow them to roll out their platform globally to food manufacturers, processors retailer, charities and foodbanks.
Resetting the conversation with workshops
We kicked off our engagement with a series of workshops. Our goal was to reset the conversation from the system, and what it needed to do, to two things:
- How FoodCloud's customers and users operated within a commercial environment (manufacturers, retailers and processors)
- How FoodCloud needed to interface with the unique technical infrastructure available to food banks and charities
Addressing key challenges
The workshops allowed us to explore key challenges for FoodCloud. These included the varied constraints and standards required by large enterprise donors, manufacturers and processors.
Another key challenge is that not all charities can accept all types of food. This led to food waste when a charity could not accept a portion of a donation, such as frozen food. The solution needed to accommodate a dynamic and shifting environment and be optimised to reduce further food waste in the supply chain.
The digital transformation of FoodCloud
Threadable laid the groundwork for the digital transformation of FoodCloud to an international enterprise. Our business process consulting, architecture and software engineering services helped to review and re-design the existing operational processes.
Together, we engaged with cross-party groups of international stakeholders, including:
- Enterprise Supermarket chains, Food Producers and Manufacturers
- Global Foodbank Networks
- Regional Foodbanks
- Charity groups
Strategy to roadmaps
Following the design and ideation workshops we moved into a three month iterative process to capture and document the business strategy, revenue model and operating model for the business.
This formed the input to the definition of an overall technology strategy that clearly set out the short, medium and longer term business and complimentary technology roadmap.
Optimum technology platform architecture
The next phase of the project was a high touch process with the existing technology and business teams. Prototyping, framework architectures and design patterns were explored to arrive at an optimum technology platform architecture to deliver the global ambitions of the business.
Platform engineering and build
The engineering and build of the platform began during month four and included the following deliverables:
- A service oriented Web platform with well documented APIs & services to enable smooth integration of existing and new 3rd parties.
- A dynamic workflow engine with numerous workflow streams to enable retailers to adhere to their regulatory requirements and be able to issue food recall notices.
- A core graph network to model and secure the different relationships between stakeholders: foodbanks, retailers and charities – similar to hosting multiple social networks within a global network of stakeholders.
Mobile portal and apps
- Mobile friendly Web Portals with secure Role Based Access Controls to enable stakeholders to engage with the platform.
- iOS & Android mobile apps to enable users to access the system and scan documents, signatures and PLD “Product Level Detail”, receive push notifications.
- Mobile friendly web Management Portal with real-time analytics and dashboards to enable interrogation of millions of lifecycle events being submitted by stakeholders.
- Migration and population of the new system with all historical data, sourced from multiple legacy systems to ensure stakeholders have all historical event data available to them.
- Internal capability building to enable the existing technical resources within FoodCloud to support and maintain the system without the need for external consulting or engineering services.
Threadable were an invaluable part of our team as we accelerated our product development in ways which we could not have achieved on our own. Threadable also provided support across different aspects of the project from product workshops to tech recruitment to system architecture. We will continue to work with Threadable on projects as they have proven their ability to deliver and are a great team to work with.