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Introducing Byte Technology: Our Transition from Service Business to Platform Business

For the first few years of Byte’s business, we were singularly focused on growing our owned and operated fleet of unattended storefronts in the San Francisco Bay Area and Sacramento. Our goal was two-fold: first, to demonstrate the viability of a business built on our unattended retail platform and, second, to fold all our learnings into the software that powers the business. The Byte Foods business now profitably serves several hundreds of clients like Tesla, Amazon, Cisco, and Kaiser and operates in two markets.

Along the way, we learned in intimate detail what it takes to grow and operate a business on the shoulders of highly perishable product being sold in a variety of micro-locations – workplaces, hospitals, universities, airports, and more. We’ve folded these learnings into a platform that, on a daily basis, intelligently allocates inventory across hundreds of storefronts and allows consumers to purchase quality, fresh food 24/7.

As 2019 starts to unfold, we shift our focus in a big way:  to open the Byte Technology platform to retailers of any size, enabling them to power their own unattended retail experience using Byte’s technology. In practical terms, this means customers – food retailers, food service operators, vending companies – purchase smart fridges from Byte Technology and use our software platform to manage the service, restocking, and optimization of those storefronts.

Why the shift?
Our mission at Byte is to change the way people eat by providing effortless access to fresh food. As we looked at the organic growth happening with our platform business last year, we saw very clearly how we could deliver most meaningfully on that mission by opening our platform to the many retailers looking for a better way to sell their fresh food to consumers.

What types of customers does Byte Technology work with?
Byte Technology works with customers across a range of industries, including food service, vending, brick and mortar retailers, ecommerce retailers (ex: food delivery, meal subscription services), and hospitality. These customers leverage the Byte platform in a few ways:

  • To extend the hours of a cafeteria.
  • To extend the reach of fresh food across a large university or corporate campus.
  • To replace the manned cash register and provide 24/7 service at a retail location.
  • To provide a paid-for fresh food service to workplaces.

In what kind of locations are these fridges being placed?
You can find Byte-powered fridges in a range of different locations including workplaces of all sizes, universities, apartment buildings, hospitals, airports, hotels, gyms, and retail storefronts – anywhere consumers are looking for a quick, convenient bite to eat.

Why are customers choosing the Byte Technology platform?
In a previous post, I wrote about several macro trends driving the adoption of unattended retail in the grab ‘n go food space. Trends include growing consumer demand for fresh, convenient food; the growing role of food at work; labor costs and shortages in the retail and food service space; and Amazon Go entering the space. In addition to these trends, customers choose Byte as their platform of choice for a few reasons:

  1. Seamless shopping experience – Shopping at a Byte-powered storefront very closely mimics a normal retail shopping experience. After swiping a credit card, the customer opens the door and is greeted by open shelving and product they can pick up and interact with – just as they would at a normal market. The beauty of Byte’s technology is the fridge knows what was removed by the consumer and automatically charges them – no honor system or self checkout here!
  2. Ability to own the consumer – With the increasing consumer adoption of on-demand delivery services like UberEats, Doordash, Instacart and others, retailers are now once removed from their consumer. The Byte Technology platform allows them to recapture this direct link to the consumer, and deliver – at higher margins – even more convenience than delivery can offer.
  3. Data – Byte’s storefronts are smart. They not only allow consumers to transact in an automated fashion, they also provide a real time view of purchase data, restock data, inventories, and product feedback. This information, paired with consumer insights and real time pricing control, create a rich environment in which retailers can deliver a customized consumer experience that also delivers financially.
  4. Flexible merchandising format – Byte’s open shelving means that nearly any form factor can be accommodated in a fridge. Salads, sandwiches, burritos, wraps, drinks, snacks and more – Byte’s shelving can be reconfigured to accommodate different packaging and product sizes.

As the food delivery and food retail space continues to shift to meet changing consumer demands, Byte Technology aims to empower retailers with a new direct-to-consumer distribution channel through our small footprint unattended storefronts. If you’re interested in learning more, we’d love to talk to you – email me directly at megan@bytetechnology.co to schedule a call.

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