Client name . Pret A Manger
Sector . Retail
Summary comment . Andrew Walker, Director of Shops and IT, Pret A Manger
"When I saw the online food ordering system that DataTherapy had put together for our initial meeting my jaw hit the floor! We had been trying to build a similar system for months to no avail but the FileMaker based system hit the spot."
Pret A Manger
Pret Gets Online DataTherapy
Pret A Manger is the well-known British sandwich company whose business philosophy is to provide customers with food that is natural and preservative free. College friends Sinclair and Julian opened their first shop in London in 1986 and since then the business has expanded into Hong Kong, New York and Singapore. There are now over 160 shops in total and the business is still privately owned.
Despite a commitment to establishing an online ordering facility across Pret's network of global outlets, its development teams had struggled to find the right database platform: one that was flexible enough to allow for rapid growth of the new delivery model, while versatile enough to manage a host of new projects.
Pret A Manger embarks on a relationship with specialist IT company, DataTherapy, to create an online ordering service, and an organisational-wide information management solution, underpinned by FileMaker.
- First online order taken less than six weeks after initial concept discussions
- FileMaker flexibility and ease of use allows DataTherapy to prototype and develop new database systems to reduce burden on Pret's in-house IT teams
- Rapid development of unique database applications, including 'Managers Toolkit' that allows shop heads to view management structures across the chain to ensure consistent best practice
- Centralised database massively streamlines Pret's business processes when launching new stores
The Pret brand is synonymous with forward thinking and development which led DataTherapy, a London based IT company, to research Pret A Manger's website in 2001 to see how it sold sandwiches online. To their surprise they found that Pret did not do this so made a call to the IT director to find out why this was the case and offer to build a system.
A meeting with the IT director was secured and the team at DataTherapy quickly bought and photographed every Pret product so that their initial demonstration system would look as impressive and close to Pret's brand as possible.
"We built a system that was almost a complete version of how we believed it would best work for Pret. In our initial meeting we started off the presentation by demonstrating how we thought the delivery system could be used and within two minutes into the meeting the IT director was so overwhelmed that he stopped us and called in his colleagues to take a look at what we had created." said Yousaf Shah, managing director, DataTherapy.
The team at Pret had been trying to build a similar system internally but had struggled to find a database solution that could quickly bring online ordering to fruition. The DataTherapy solution, built upon FileMaker technology, was versatile enough to encompass the requirements of Pret and flexible enough to allow the delivery model to be developed as the orders grew. Within two days of the initial meeting Yousaf and his team were back at Pret discussing the branding that would be included on the system. The first online order was taken within six weeks.
The system has since matured and today the 'Pret Delivers' system is used in 65 Pret branches and handles many thousands of orders each week. DataTherapy has also re-built the company's website, www.pret.com, which now uses a FileMaker back-end to deliver live information about Pret shops and products to the web.
Following the success of the online ordering system and website, Pret has requested DataTherapy to improve current and build new systems using FileMaker to solve other issues within the business.
"DataTherapy's work has made us realise how many IT issues we have within the business and how we can overcome them," comments Walker.
FileMaker's flexibility and the ease of development has allowed DataTherapy to prototype and develop database systems, which are helping to manage the Pret business and reduce the burden on the internal development team. As a result of the growing number of FileMaker based systems being successfully used, Pret purchased a site license allowing DataTherapy's systems to be accessed throughout the company.
One such system is the 'Manager's Toolkit' which gives shop managers access to all the information necessary to run their shops effectively and communicate progress to head office. The toolkit allows shop managers to view information about any shop and its management structure, keep their own shop information up-to-date and prepare for and document their monthly progress meetings. This includes an evaluation of production, staff and shop issues – which is shared centrally and can be tracked month to month. Managers can also conduct a quality review and health and safety evaluations across the branch network.
Another system supports new shop openings. This enables the staff involved to see at a glance up-to-date information on the progress of new Pret branches and for all information to be managed centrally.
"One of our primary business challenges is opening a new store. To open a new branch we have to go through roughly 130 stages and previously all this information was on various bits of paper. Now we have a formalised process that we can check off on the database. The technology has made a big impact in terms of improving productivity and given us greater visibility when opening new shops." Andrew Walker, director of shops and IT, Pret A Manger
In the future, FileMaker and its external data source support will allow DataTherapy to further integrate its FileMaker based programs with other systems within Pret. A planned new delivery service will also be built using specific functions from FileMaker to create a robust and reliable web system.
Yousaf Shah, director DataTherapy comments: "FileMaker technology has enabled us to react quickly and build Pret the systems it needs as a business. Now, with FileMaker, we will be able to seamlessly integrate our solutions with the other internal databases which inevitably exist in a company the size of Pret. FileMaker has helped us to build and constantly improve credibility with our customers."