Brakes partners with KPS on digital transformation to support its mission to feed the nation

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Brakes, the UK’s leading foodservice wholesaler, has partnered with KPS, one of the UK’s most trusted e-commerce agencies, to digitally transform its operations during the covid-19 lockdown. The project opened up its B2B food delivery site to the public with the launch of a new Direct To Consumer (D2C) e-commerce offer, giving UK households an alternative to visiting the supermarket or relying on online grocery delivery slots.

With the sudden closure of pubs and restaurants during lockdown, foodservice wholesaler Brakes was able to step in alongside fellow wholesaler, Bidfood, to support the Government in providing food and other essentials to the clinically vulnerable, who were required to shield for 12 weeks. From planning to execution in less than nine days, Brakes now delivers more than 200,000 care packages each week across Great Britain.

Brakes also stepped in to support supermarket’s efforts to feed the nation and get food into stores, working with several retailers, including Sainsbury’s and Iceland, to help them meet the surge in demand as panic buying took hold in March. Brakes was able to supply a number of different products, from catering-sized tins of tomatoes to milk, that would usually have been supplied to hospitality and out-of-home food businesses directly to supermarkets to keep the shelves stocked.

In its mission to continue to feed the nation, Brakes recognised the need to begin to supply its restaurant-quality products directly to the public via a new D2C site, for shoppers who were either couldn’t secure an online food delivery or didn’t want to visit the supermarket. 

Having successfully partnered with KPS on a series of digital transformation projects previously, including the launch a new e-commerce platform for restaurants, hospitals and schools in 2019, Brakes felt KPS was the partner of choice for the D2C site. With an in-depth understanding of Brakes’ business and its tech stack, Brakes recognised the value that KPS could add in achieving this transformation in a limited timeframe.

Within two days, partnering with KPS, Brakes opened its B2B site to the public, accepting phone orders for collection from a select few distribution centres (DCs).  It then introduced a complementary Direct to Consumer (D2C) e-commerce site, which would support click and collect.

With new registration, location, payments and customer service processes needing to be designed, tested and implemented at pace, the KPS and Brakes teams worked collaboratively to deliver the implementation of Brakes’ D2C channel. This was launched on the SAP Commerce Cloud platform in nine days, with no impact on Brakes’ vital food delivery that supports those shielding with food packages and its supply chain work.

Now, Brakes can provide groceries to a radius that includes 6.8 million households in the UK, while consumers have access to more than 6,000 Brakes products, through delivery or click-and-collect at 94 nationwide depots.

Alex Protasiuk, lead digital relationship manager at Brakes, commented:  “As a business, we knew we had to respond quickly – which we knew would be challenging, but we have innovative and resilient colleagues at Brakes, so we were able to launch a really great service, in record time.  What also made it possible was the support of a trusted partner, and one we felt could deliver exceptional results at pace. The support we received from KPS was nothing short of exceptional, with fast turnaround, and best practice at every stage of the implementation.”

Barnaby Moffat, commercial director at KPS, said: “Helping Brakes launch a completely new service, while ensuring the business can still provide essential food supplies to the trade, has been a rewarding project for all the KPS team involved. We understood the importance of delivering this digital transformation project at pace, so we doubled our team and worked around the clock to do all we could to achieve fast and effective results. We look forward to working closely with the team at Brakes as it evolves its D2C offering further, adding further capabilities to deliver ongoing improvements to CX and UX on site.”