Up until quite recently food has been a technology backwater. Now we are awash with FoodTech companies but at Move Fresh we have been a technology company long before that portmanteau was coined.
We have spent about £3 million developing our software systems. I am very pleased about how cheaply we’ve managed to do it. Many of our competitors have spent an order of magnitude more to get similar systems. Some of our ideas have been quite obvious, other less so. Here’s the top six:
First, to cover offer the most obvious is that we used Amazon Web Services. There’s two big ways that this saves money:
- There is on demand scalability. We can multiply up servers when we need them and drop them hours later. This alone is a six figure saving for a seasonal business like ours.
- Day to day systems administration is largely automated. As a result we no longer employ Systems Administrators and instead just have DevOps.
Secondly, we reckon to save a seven figure sum through developing in-house rather than using consultants. Our view is that software development is absolutely core to an e-commerce company so it’s something we would want to do ourselves.
The third saving is also fairly obvious which is just to have a very efficient development process. We use a Kaizen process and have automated deployments and a high level of automated testing. There’s more to it than that, but basically we made a big up front investment which is now resulting in massively increased productivity.
We love hosted services which has been our fourth saving. We replaced all of our development servers with a GitHub subscription. Address entry is through PCA Predict. Many thousands of items a day are printed through PrintNode which costs us just $99 a month! We save a six figure sum every year through using the free token system from Braintree Payments and we also save on PCI compliance too. We also use many other hosted services for development and management of our marketing.
We are now getting onto less obvious stuff. Saving five is to avoid enterprise software. We have migrated from extremely expensive enterprise software onto either open source or simple hosted services. For example, on our ERP system we have saved around 92% by moving to Odoo. We also saved over 90% on our move from an enterprise email service provider to MailChimp. We saved 98% by moving from corporate DNS to Amazon. In all three cases, these are direct savings but we made more savings through the improved functionality by dumping the enterprise software. There’s been a further saving through not having to constantly have lunch with account managers.
Saving six is that we constantly market test our technology. We do this in two ways:
- We regularly test outsourcing to compare with delivering in-house; a recent example was the Bean to Door website where our internal team absolutely smashed Shopify.
- We also sell our services to external companies and indeed for 2018 Q1 about a quarter of the transactions on our platform have been for third parties. Selling your service to other companies is proof that you really are market leading.
Our development team is very clearly a technology company that happens to embedded in a food business. Indeed, we employ more software engineers than some software startups.
So that’s a very brief overview of how we developed a £20 million plus system for just £3 million.