Why Sodexo Global Retail picked CHILI GraFx to be a better business partner

Many people have experienced Sodexo’s global retail services without knowing it. They operate restaurants in 50 countries at universities, hospitals, public schools and other governmental organizations. Sodexo’s 400,000 strong workforce serve 100 million meals a day. Transforming the global process to create, adjust and produce digital and print signage, menus and food labels in a running operation like Sodexo's, is no small feat.

That’s the story Dr. Joseph Hoffman (Global IT Retail Domain Owner) and his business partner, Marianne Edgington (Sr. Channel Manager, North America), came to share at our recent community event in Austin, Texas: CREATE ‘23 US, Conference for New Creatives – and a captivating story it was, judging from the silence in the room, the frantic note taking and slide photographing that was going on throughout their presentation.

Why? Because it had all the ingredients of a Classic Global Enterprise Saga, a quest for fire, a journey with heroes and foes, hard tests and sat backs, doubts and convictions, efforts and rewards – and as the narrative formula dictates: a grand apotheosis, with many tough lessons to learn for the audience.

So, of course we take notes and snaps.

Critical ingredients of a global operation

Joe and Marianne own the infrastructure to support a global retail chain of embedded restaurants (“We are always a guest in the house of our clients”, Joe said) with digital and print materials for signage, menus and food labels – critical ingredients of a business operation that serves 100 million meals a day. The food labels capture nutrition and critical allergen information in formats that are FDA compliant. There is a very real medical and legal liability risk attached to error. Just on the print side of the house, Sodexo produces 120,000 assets per month.

To drive efficiency, the global business process is structured around a central service catalogue, named Retail Ranger. One of its many purposes is to allow site level managers to quickly, easily and efficiently request brand assets while maintaining a level of control to ensure the Sodexo brand identity is maintained.

Replace a nearly unmanageable catalog

Within the order process, restaurant owners select templates, adjust them to their local requirements, save them and use them to generate digital and print assets. As each adjustment resulted in a new template, over time, this process resulted in a huge and nearly unmanageable catalog of templates.

Creating a new template from scratch meant briefing an outsourced service to hardcode the requirements – an investment of 3-6 months and $10-15k per template at minimum, with more complex templates taking longer development cycles and more sizeable budgets. In a business that deals with hard deadlines and rough global market conditions (price indexation, availability of ingredients and produce, consumer demands), not being able to respond within days or even hours seriously impacted Sodexo’s ability to execute. Being ready for the new academic year starting in September, new templates had to be briefed in by January at the latest...

Reputation of a business bottleneck

Combine the lengthy and expensive process to create new templates with the poor user experience in the sprawling template catalogue, and you understand why the IT group suffered from a poor internal reputation. Hoffmann’s global organization was widely considered a business bottleneck.

To make matters worse, the incumbent technology was “beyond end-of-life”, and Joe actually was considering hiring more developers to keep it going for just a bit longer - also because his team couldn’t find an alternative system that would live up to Sodexo’s high standards of brand identity management and asset quality. Until their trusted advisors at Sitecore and EPAM introduced them to CHILI GraFx, they hadn’t found a good enough alternative…

Regain agility and control with CHILI GraFx

Following a meticulous vendor selection process, bringing all global stakeholders along for the ride, CHILI GraFx became the platform of choice for Sodexo Global Retail. CHILI GraFx allows the global IT group to replace thousands of templates with a handful of CHILI GraFx Smart Templates, adjust them on the fly, enable the site level managers to self-serve digital and print assets, and respond adequately to shifts in global and local markets.

Many thanks to the Sodexo Retail team for their contribution to CREATE ‘23 US!

Do you want to know more?

Watch Sodexo's recorded speaking session at CREATE '23 US.

Watch Dr. Joe Hoffman chat with Bram Verniest in a recent CHILIpulse episde.



Kees Henniphof

Jul 19, 2023

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