Choco’s mission is to enable food to move around the planet transparently, sustainably, and without waste. But digitization still has a long way to go in the food industry, whose operators often rely on manual, human-led processes by phone and fax that usually shape business processes.
The situation is no different further down the supply chain either: it takes a lot of steps before orders from restaurants can be placed with food suppliers, processed, and completed properly.
Currently valued at more than a billion euros, Choco is one of the few renowned tech unicorns among Germany’s start-ups today. Its recipe for success is simple: transparent and sustainable distribution of food. At the heart of its success are a cloud-based ordering platform and an innovative app catering to restaurants’ and suppliers’ needs while helping them save time and make fewer delivery mistakes.
A major challenge for the food industry is managing the complex process of the supply chain, specifically bringing together the many parties involved while maintaining manual business transactions. Farmers, growers, wholesalers, distributors, sales representatives, and restaurant buyers are all part of this process, a process that often varies between countries.
While every single delivery requires a series of manual steps to be carried out, the sector also has to deal with a bigger challenge: one in three orders contains errors upon arrival, often leading to food waste.
Twilio was a great decision for us and practically a must-have right from the start. We chose Twilio for our business success because we needed a well-established, agile, easy and quick-to-deploy software solution in order to scale and grow our business.
Choco was launched in 2018 with the goal of solving these supply chain challenges. Using Twilio’s cloud communications platform, Choco can enable in-app messaging with Twilio's Programmable Messaging API that lets foodservice operators communicate with their suppliers, order food, and request invoices—not just in Europe, but in the U.S. as well.
Andrew Solomon, a software engineer at Choco, is convinced it was the best decision for Choco to pick Twilio. “Twilio was practically a must right from the start,” he explained. “We needed it for our business success.”
With more than 10,000 suppliers and around 15,000 restaurateurs, Twilio plays a huge part in powering Choco’s communications across its customer base. This initially included implementing SMS text messaging and WhatsApp as communication channels and then country-specific enhancements later on, such as national telephone numbers and IDs.
“Each region is different,” Solomon said. “Every country has different characteristics and procedures, especially where suppliers are concerned. WhatsApp is popular in Spain, SMS messaging is popular in the U.S., and email is used a lot in Germany. So Twilio, with its established global footprint, was a game changer for all of us.”
Choco’s app-based ordering tool is powered by Twilio’s cloud setup, enabling Choco to transfer customer processes to the digital world, ultimately improving its customers’ experience and brand experience long-term. To ensure secure onboarding of their users without minimizing customer experience, Choco leverages Twilio Verify to prevent fraud and protect user accounts. In addition, the Twilio Lookup API helps to validate phone numbers when food service operators communicate with their suppliers via SMS or WhatsApp.
“It’s all pretty easy now,” said Solomon, recalling when restaurants used to have to wait forever to place their orders and suppliers had to manage products that were not always available.
Secure onboarding and account security is an important focus for us and our customers. We use Twilio in order to verify phone numbers and to make sure that the right account or right supplier is behind the right phone number.
The two biggest advantages with Choco’s app are its speed as well as how easy and convenient it is to use. Restaurants’ orders are automatically converted to the order format suppliers prefer, regardless of how the orders are sent through WhatsApp, SMS, or fax. Item numbers, units, and target figures can be added and sorted by category, and all orders a business sends out are available at a single central location. Furthermore, small orders can be made individually, which significantly reduces the amount of waste produced at the end of the day.
Suppliers also benefit from managing orders digitally with Choco’s solution. The customer numbers, item numbers, order units, and requested delivery dates are all structured and clearly visible, and are incorporated into the merchandise management system. In addition, it is possible to choose the days orders are placed and set special delivery conditions for individual customers.
Using Twilio Segment, Choco can incorporate multiple data sources into a customer data platform that manages first-party data gathered regardless of which channel is actually used. With Segment Protocols and connections, Choco has a single view of the customer and can simply collect, manage, and standardize data across its channels. This enables Choco’s developers to unify customer data gathered from every single contact—and gives Choco’s own clients insights into customer behavior in a series of dashboards.
With Twilio Segment, we are able to collect, unify and link customer data in real time and build direct relationships at every touch point. Choco has created a single source of truth for customer data on which all users can benchmark, collaborate and plan.
“Digital platforms didn’t exist in the food industry at that time, so there were no online marketplaces,” said Solomon. “It was Twilio that made all that possible.” Anyone involved in the supply chain had to handle order and delivery processes manually by phone, voicemail, or fax, and according to Solomon, “All kinds of mistakes were made.”
“There are fewer manual processes to deal with now, and orders are neatly formatted and contain a link taking you straight to the products you need,” he said. “Even connecting up to merchandise management systems can be done without a great deal of implementation work.”
For restaurants, this means they can save around two hours of time per week in their ordering processes. Most of all, though, it means cutting down on food waste—significantly.