Les Petits Chefs food services is a growing family business whose main mission is to serve nutritional meals to toddlers in daycares and elementary schools. Excellence in service, balance at the right price are at the heart of its values… just like innovation. And when it talks about innovation, it definitely speaks to us!
Create a cafeteria experience that can manage the numerous food allergy cases and that facilitates the company’s entire administrative management.
A multichannel e-commerce platform that centralizes the B2C and B2B experience. The platform manages the entire sales cycle and the business rules for selling meals to elementary schools and individuals, and wholesaling to daycares. It has become a custom Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system for Les Petits Chefs food services.
More than 1,250,000 meals delivered to thousands of children and adults throughout Quebec in 2021, an increase of over 500% in 5 years!
Absolutely every field out there can benefit from innovation. In the food industry, digital can be a major help when addressing distribution issues and customer loyalty. So, it’s not that surprising that the custom ERP project for Les Petits Chefs turned out to be a major success. If you have a minute, we’ll tell you the story!
While experiencing a strong period of growth, Les Petits Chefs decided to create a virtual 2.0 menu from which customers could order the contents of their children’s lunch boxes online, while also managing their children’s allergies more easily. Internally, the platform also became a real ERP system that could be used to manage kitchen operations, customer service and sales.
While developing the platform, several objectives were set:
- Online meal purchasing
- Allergy management based on meal ingredients
- Kitchen operations management
- Security and employee rights management
- Complex reporting system (sales, operations, etc.)
- Order error management and customer service
- Platform available 24/7
Valuable design workshops
The main objective of Les Petits Chefs was to sell meals online to its various types of customers. However, our strategic consulting team quickly realized that the client actually needed much more—a platform that would become the hub for all of the company’s operations. That meant that the technology had to be sufficiently scalable and robust to ensure that the platform would remain viable over the long term, making it a real investment.
Imagining the solution
The allergy alert system is an important feature of the platform that warns the parent or daycare employee if they select a meal with ingredients that one of the children is allergic to. This same platform, which has become a real ERP for our client, makes a link between the ingredients in the selected meals and the menu available in the school calendar.
In addition to the many features that are typical of e-commerce sites (order cancellation, refunds, etc.), our custom ERP enables company administrators to manage all kitchen operations using automation tools. Reports showing critical sales data, meals to be prepared and other pertinent data can be brought up with just a few clicks thanks to the intuitive, powerful administrative interfaces.
Selecting the right technology
From a back-end perspective, Laravel 5 was chosen for its scalability and for Eloquent, an object relational mapping (ORM) tool with ActiveRecord. We used the ORM to simplify the numerous, complex database queries.
We also used vue.js to handle the numerous validations and other asynchronous database queries, such as saving shopping carts, checking for allergies and cancelling meals for a given day. The responsive interface was provided by the Bootstrap library from Twitter.
We automated deployment using a Docker software container, which also enabled us to package all dependencies and easily deploy them on any type of infrastructure. This method not only accelerates the initial deployment of the application but also ensures greater flexibility and better maintenance of the platform.
That’s a wrap
The results of this project were even better than expected, although we did anticipate that it would go well. Using this type of tool means a better organization of business activities, time savings in terms of carrying out tasks, improved market competitiveness and even an increase in revenue. Les Petits Chefs was able to enjoy all of these benefits while also responding more effectively to specific customer needs, including better allergy management. Today, we continue to support the company by making their tools and virtual menu even more innovative. Stay tuned!
In conclusion, this project led us to start collaborating with Les Petits Chefs over the long term. It also helped us demonstrate how innovation can be a major asset, even when it comes to multichannel e-commerce platforms. Often, people think of these tools as ready-made solutions, but there is so much to gain from fully customizing them to meet the needs of your company and market.