Byte fridges have a screen displaying nutrition facts and prices.

Byte Foods officially announced yesterday that it is shifting its focus from a company that owns and operates smart fridge vending machines into Byte Technology, which licenses out its technology platform to third party retailers.

The move is something the company has talked about openly before with The Spoon. Byte Co-Founder, Lee Mokri, told us about the shift in a Q&A in February, and earlier this month, Byte CEO and Co-Founder, Megan Mokri mentioned it in our Spoon Slack Chat on food robotics and automation, saying:

Byte enables food retailers of any size to embed their storefronts in places where consumers spend time away from home – at work, in healthcare settings, hotels, universities, etc.

It’s this ability to push retail out to high-traffic locations that makes Byte’s move particularly interesting. Rather than trying to pull shoppers into a store, retailers can push their stores out to where people already are. As Lee Mokri told me in our Q&A:

A lot of these clients that we’re working with, they see the Byte fridges as building out this Omni channel approach where they’ve got the products in the store, they’ve got a presence online, but what Byte allows them to do is have products at hand. Where if you’re hungry and you want to grab a sandwich from a local grocer, you don’t want to drive to the grocery store or walk a few blocks to the grocery store. You can just walk a couple of feet from you and grab that same sandwich. The idea is that those products are always at hand to their customers.

The Byte shopping experience is also a data-rich one, as it can track exactly which products are being purchased, when and at what location. These analytics in turn allow the retailer to better manage their inventory. They can direct particular products to locations where they are most popular, and re-stocking can be done with more precision, making the retailer’s supply chain more efficient.

But the shift to more of a technology platform also benefits Byte because it allows the company to scale in a way that it couldn’t do by solely operating its own machines. Byte doesn’t need to build up its own brand recognition or develop robust sales channels because it can leverage that of its retail partners. A partner’s brand recognition should, ideally, drive more sales as consumers will know the brand they are purchasing from. These sales will generate more data that can be used to make Byte’s underlying software platform smarter.

We see a lot of companies in the food tech space choosing to be more of a platform for other services, rather than trying to just go it alone. Eatsa backed away from running its own restaurants in favor of licensing out its automated services to power others like Wow Bao, Mac’d and Deliveroo’s new food hall. And Robby partnered up with Pepsi to create branded delivery robots to drop off snacks on campus for hungry college students.

We’ll have a chance to catch up and learn about Byte’s platform transition with Lee Mokri, who will be speaking at our upcoming ArticulATE food robot and automation conference in San Francisco on April 16. He’s just one of the awesome speakers sharing their expertise throughout what promises to be an amazing and insightful program. Get your ticket today!

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