Approximately 300,000 restaurants and food service operators across the United States rely on US Foods as their national distributor for food and supplies.
In return, US Foods takes a holistic approach to servicing customers by going beyond food offerings. The distributor provides a comprehensive suite of e-commerce technology and business solutions that help restaurants manage their entire business.
However, keeping pace with an evolving restaurant industry and customer needs requires US Foods to be strategic with data. The end goal is to use data to help make customers more successful, which requires strong integrations between business processes and data technologies in order to gain new operational insights.
“From a technology perspective, our focus is to make sure we’re facilitating strong interactions with our customers, partners, and associates,” US Foods Vice President of Application Development, Didier Le Tien said. “We always want to be looking at data in different ways to find new insights.”
US Foods turned to Snowflake’s cloud data platform to power its advanced data analytics needs.
The journey to cloud data analytics
US Foods saw an opportunity to speed up their report delivery time beyond what their traditional technology stack could achieve. To address data integration issues and improve performance, US Foods adopted Snowflake.
“We bought the Snowflake technology as a means to address a specific technical problem,” Le Tien said. “As we started to use it, we came to realize quickly that Snowflake included a number of capabilities that would help accelerate our strategy and journey around analytics and big data.”
While Snowflake began as a point solution, the relationship expanded as US Foods became aware that Snowflake could add tremendous value as its cloud data platform. Today, Snowflake is an integral part of US Foods’s technology ecosystem and underpins a broad range of activities, including advanced analytics reporting and applications.
Specifically, US Foods points to the flexibility and scalability built into Snowflake’s multi-cluster shared data architecture, which supports fast analytics performance in the cloud. Internal data analysts and database administrators at US Foods can now work concurrently with the same single copy of the data without competing for computing resources. By dedicating computing to each workload, US Foods delivers advanced data analytics that produce actionable insights.
“Data is like a new strategic asset, and it’s absolutely playing a critical role in making sure we take a pragmatic approach to understanding the facts and making the right decisions,” Le Tien said.
US Foods also leverages cloud data analytics to help customers identify products that may better fit their circumstances. For example, the COVID-19 global pandemic caused restaurant customers to shift from dine-in to takeout services.
“The pandemic led some of our customers to rethink their operations, so we’re here to help them through that transition,” Le Tien said. “Analytics help us provide new insights into how our customers can improve their operations with takeout, such as identifying products that may be better suited to the new model.”
Cloud as a game changer
As US Foods examines the impact of the global pandemic and beyond, the distributor views data analytics in the cloud as the key technology that validates what’s most effective for its business, customers, and end consumers.
“Snowflake is a very important part of enabling innovation for us,” Le Tien said. “Cloud is becoming an increasing part of our portfolio because it allows us to find ways to deliver value faster and cheaper for our organization.”
Le Tien also states that companies such as US Foods can now be more iterative and agile because of cloud data technology.
“The adoption of cloud and the emergence of technologies such as Snowflake have made it much easier for anyone to go and test, and succeed or fail fast,” Le Tien states. “What used to take months is available now to many through cloud capabilities. The ability to test with minimal investment and validate hypotheses very quickly has been a game changer.”
As US Foods speeds ahead with its cloud data analytics, Snowflake is helping the food distributor keep consumers healthy and satisfied and its customers and employees successful and safe—no matter what food trends arise or what global events occur next.