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BlueCart: Vendor Analysis (Part 3) — Competitive and Summary Analysis

BlueCart

We fully admit, in just about as non-scientific an analyst manner as possible, that the Spend Matters team has had fun reviewing BlueCart. The Washington, D.C.-based provider is a unique online order management platform for small (and even mid-size) restaurant buyers in the food industry, the suppliers and distributors that serve them and the sales reps that manage the relationships. Since a number of the Spend Matters extended team have worked in the front and back office of restaurants and even owned them — and some of us are related to current chefs and owners — we are fully aware of the uniqueness of restaurant buying, including the typical chef obsession with food cost (the most cost-conscious chefs and sous chefs can tell you precisely what a plated item costs down to the dime). We’re simply too close to the restaurant business not to let our opinions and past experience get in the way of just considering BlueCart’s technology without also providing context, as well.

This final installment of our multipart Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot series covering BlueCart offers a competitive analysis and comparison to other order management and procure-to-pay options in the restaurant industry, as well as lessons learned from this unique approach for other industries. It also includes a user selection guide, user interface and user experience (UI/UX) analysis and summary evaluation and selection considerations. Part 1 and Part 2 of this PRO research series provide a company and solution overview, a SWOT analysis, product strengths and weaknesses and a recommended fit analysis for what types of organizations should consider State of Flux and the BlueCart product line.

BlueCart: Vendor Analysis (Part 2) — Product Strengths and Weaknesses

In the restaurant industry, just as in manufacturing environments, chefs care about the consistent performance of their suppliers. Consistency is 90% or 100% of why most chefs and sous chefs, with authority to decide vendor relationships, work with suppliers with whom they have a proven track record based on past quality, delivery and overconfidence (all three of which are key). It’s also one of the reasons why they avoid changing suppliers that they trust — that and the extra case of tomatoes, bottle of truffle oil or ounce of saffron provided as a “thank you” for doing business with a preferred purveyor.

Thanks in part to a freemium model that provides basic no-cost capabilities to those using its order management solution in restaurants, BlueCart is rapidly adding new customers around the globe and building an ecosystem of suppliers and distributors as well. This Spend Matters PRO vendor snapshot explores BlueCart’s strengths and weaknesses in the restaurant e-procurement, procure-to-pay (P2P) and supplier network areas, providing facts and expert analysis to help procurement organizations decide if they should shortlist the vendor as a potential provider. Part 1 of our analysis comprised a company and detailed solution overview and a SWOT analysis, as well as a summary recommended fit suggestion for what types of organizations should consider BlueCart. The remaining parts of this multipart series will offer a user selection guide, user interface (UI/UX) analysis, competitive alternatives and evaluation and selection considerations.

BlueCart: Vendor Analysis (Part 1) — Background and Solution Overview

restaurant

Is e-procurement getting specialized by industry? BlueCart, which launched in July of 2014 as an online ordering platform for small restaurant chefs, owners and buyers in the foodservice industry, is proof of the increasing specialization of different procure-to-pay (P2P) vendors and business models in targeting specific market segments. Incidentally, BlueCart is also an example of a platform-based model built from the ground up to also serve a specific ecosystem — including, in this case, the distributors and sales representatives that manage customer relationships.

Yet where BlueCart differs from the majority of non-specialized P2P and e-procurement providers — aside from offering restaurant-specific capabilities — is in its business model. BlueCart’s core requisitioning capability is free to those placing orders and it has decided that revenue will come from advertising and subscriptions to more advanced functionality (e.g., inventory management and spend analysis). This is similar to the freemium subscription models offered by big-name B2C platforms (like LinkedIn) that restaurant owners and buyers are familiar with.

Judging by its growth numbers to date, the model is working, despite the challenging and often unique dynamics of the restaurant business, including those that govern supplier and distributor relationships. This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot explores BlueCart and its unique approach to P2P and the restaurant supply chain, providing facts and expert analysis to help organizations decide if they should use the provider’s free or premium capabilities. It also provides lessons learned for e-procurement in other industries centered on the value of vertical-specific P2P capabilities. Part 1 of our analysis provides a company and detailed solution overview and a SWOT analysis, as well as a summary recommended fit suggestion for what types of organizations should consider BlueCart. The remaining parts of this multipart series will offer a user selection guide, user interface (UI/UX) analysis, competitive alternatives and evaluation and selection considerations.