Online Gastronomy Innovator Savours the Benefits of Communications Flexibility

Foodist’s evolution from a startup to a grown-up business sees it replace a legacy PBX to enable rapid, streamlined growth

Business Need

The runaway success of Foodist means more customers and suppliers to communicate with and more new products to source. Finding a way to make good communications simple to operate and grow is key to a successful future.

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Business Results

  • Enables a flexible monthly payment model for communications usage with no capex commitment
  • Empowers colleagues to stay productive and connected regardless of device or location
  • Facilitates continued business growth without the constraints of legacy on-premise infrastructure
  • Simplifies onboarding of new users and extra features, and reduces admin overheads

I would recommend NFON without reservation – I just plug in a new device, and it works.

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Gourmet Box Foodies Taste the Difference with NFON Cloud Communications

Foodist is at the centre of a gastronomic online revolution. One that brings Europe’s finest food delicacies to thousands of kitchen tables in Germany, Austria, Switzerland and beyond. We sat down with Jan Kaeten, CFO, and Dominic Muskulus, Head of IT, in Hamburg to discover how Foodist came to chose NFON as it’s cloud communications service provider. And most importantly: are they happy they chose NFON?

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It all started in Hamburg in 2012, with self-confessed ‘greedy guts’ entrepreneurs Alexander Djordjevic and Ole Schaumberg. Propelled by an early appearance on TV’s Lion’s Den (Die Höhle des Löwen), Foodist is fast becoming a household staple. Why? It’s amazing, evolving selection of delicatessen treats is only part of the story. The rest is down to clever business decisions, carefully managed growth and the ultimate technology platform.

The importance of good communications

Foodist has always relied upon communications to keep its online operations running successfully. E-commerce tools handle the purchasing and shipping aspects of the Foodist gourmet box service, and customers can also phone in to ask questions and get expert advice.

The other role for communications is keeping in constant contact with product suppliers to ensure that Foodist customers have access to the latest food discoveries.

The groundwork needed to scout for the best new offerings is astounding. Each month Foodist experts explore the whole of Europe to spot 700 new products, tasting 400 and eventually selecting the best 40 for sale.

“Our purchasing team is always traveling throughout Europe to find out exciting new products and producers and try to bring them closer to the German end user,” explains Jan Kaeten, CFO. “We now have 2,500 deli products in our online shop and have started selling delicacies to the German food retail trade too.”

Foodist has also recently set up its own branded line of produce, Mission MORE.

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From two guys to 70-80 people

Having progressed from startup to ‘grown-up’ business, Foodist outgrew its previous office so planned a move to bigger premises in Hamburg’s port area.

“Much has grown in the last five years. We are now over 50 employees and in the next few years we will somehow get to 70 or 80,” Jan emphasises. ”We wanted to use the move to the new office to replace our PBX with a new kind of modern communications system. The previous infrastructure wasn’t coping so well with growth. So we thought, what are the alternatives? Buy a new PBX and again have the problems with maintainability and dependence from external partners? Then we discovered NFON.”

Simple, optimum cost model with cloud communications services

With NFON, rather than using capital expenditure to buy an expensive new infrastructure, Foodist saw the advantages of a flexible, monthly payment model that it could grow alongside.

Dominic Muskulus, Head of IT, adds, “We weren’t convinced that the PBX price structure worked for the numbers of users we needed. We like the way NFON runs in the cloud. It means not having to worry anymore about accommodating a huge system somewhere in our server cabinets.”

Having chosen NFON, the implementation process was super straightforward.

Dominic continues, “There was almost nothing for us to do. Just planning which employee number belonged to which name, unpacking the phones that arrived, assembling them on the desks and putting the cables in. It just worked!”

The Foodist IT team was extremely pleased to see that the introduction of  full-featured cloud communications services brought virtually no additional management overhead.

“Users can be conveniently added,” aserts Dominic. “Terminals can be linked to new numbers. Redirects are easy to set up. Fax works without problems. It's just a dream. Before, we were dependent on an external partner to make changes on our behalf. Now we can manage the system ourselves and that is very easy.”

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Mobility benefits

The other major benefit cited by Foodist is the mobility of the solution, using whatever endpoint – deskphone, mobile device, laptop – is most logical for each user at any point.

Dominic continues, “We can use normal deskphones and conference phones from a range of manufacturers, but also easily install an app on our laptops or smartphones to become available worldwide. We can call on the same cost terms all over the world and our users don’t need to be in the office to be reachable on their normal business phone number.”

The biggest advantage of all is that Foodist has “escaped” from having to worry about telecom infrastructure and can focus instead of enhancing its technology IP.

“Thanks to NFON, we can focus almost all our efforts on software development so our online shopping system, the customer experience and backend internal systems continually develop and improve,” explains Dominic.

“I would recommend NFON without reservation. We no longer need any in-house support for administering a telephone system. I just plug in the device and it works.”