The main benefits for De IJsmaker

  1. 40% more revenue with the Cohelion Data Platform
  2. Smarter purchasing and more efficient production by predicting future demand
  3. Never again say ‘no’ due to a shortage of an ice cream flavor
  4. No more over- or understaffing and lower costs due to better data-driven workforce planning
  5. Attract franchisees with a data-driven operation

Big ambitions

The beginning of an ice cream parlor

Six years ago, on a sunny day in Rotterdam’s Witte de Withstraat, Adnan Bourich noticed something was missing. The street was bustling with life and the terraces were full, but affordable quality ice cream was nowhere to be found. That’s why he opened his first ice cream parlor there: De IJsmaker. Since then, there have been four locations in Rotterdam, and one new one is planned for Dordrecht in 2022. The ambition is greater. Managing shareholder Bourich aims to have 20 locations in the Netherlands within three years and to establish a large franchise network with the ‘IJsmeester’. He dreams of locations in London, Paris, and Berlin. Bourich is realizing his dream through innovative entrepreneurship and basing his decisions on data rather than gut feelings.

But that’s not how it started. The starting point of De IJsmaker is to produce high-quality ice cream as smartly and cheaply as possible while also providing customers with an experience alongside their ice cream in the parlors. With the rapid growth in customers and locations, production, information, and staffing issues arose, which Bourich addresses thanks to a digital transformation. Because data and information are the key, even when selling artisanal ice cream. The Cohelion data platform provides De IJsmaker with insights into the operation and helps predict what is needed in terms of inventory, production, staffing, and cash flow.

Digitalization overhaul in artisanal ice cream

At the beginning of the pandemic

The digitalization push of De IJsmaker began when customers had to maintain a distance of one and a half meters from each other in the parlors due to the COVID-19 pandemic. With sixty customers in the store at once, this was completely impossible. The solution turned out to be kiosks, large screens through which customers can place their orders themselves, following the example of fast-food chains.

Once the order is ready, the customer picks up their ice cream or sorbet at a counter. Soon, 80 percent of the revenue in the parlors was processed through the kiosks. Bourich: “Those screens looked great and worked well. However, it was difficult for us to extract the right data from the kiosks and translate it into usable information. This information could give us much better insight into what was happening in the parlors. That was the impetus to search for a party that could help us do things with all that information and improve.”

The Cohelion Data Platform extracts data from all kiosks and translates it into usable information. For De IJsmaker, this immediately provided interesting insights. “On Tuesday afternoons, the Rum-Raisin flavor performs exceptionally well, but much less so on Monday afternoons,” says Bourich. “The parlor in Witte de Withstraat is around the corner from the Eye Hospital, where most outpatient appointments for the elderly are booked on Tuesday afternoons. The Rum-Raisin flavor is popular among the Eye Hospital’s customers. I can experience and discover that myself, but when there are 45 stores, the system should show me such correlations.”


Thanks to data

The kiosks also prove to be better at upselling than employees. An employee may forget to ask if the customer wants whipped cream on their ice cream, but a kiosk does not. If no choice is made between whipped cream or no whipped cream, or between chocolate or no chocolate, the order process cannot proceed. Because customers are confronted with the question ‘Whipped cream or no whipped cream?’ every time they use the kiosks, sales increased by 40 percent. The throughput per customer also increased. When customers ordered at the counter, three were served at once. With the kiosks, the number of orders per minute increased, resulting in a total increase of up to 150 percent. Based on the information from the data platform, trends were recognized more quickly, and suggestions for new popular flavor combinations could be made.

A catalyst for growth

The Cohelion Data Platform

“At first, we didn’t know how to use the data from the kiosks to improve operations,” says Bourich. “How do we turn that raw data into specific data that we can work with? That’s where the Cohelion Data Platform came in. Based on past sales, weather forecasts, the day of the week, month, and season, school holidays, and even events like the Rotterdam Marathon, we can estimate how many scoops of ice cream we’ll sell per flavor in the coming days. Then we know how much ice cream we need to make for the next few days. And how many employees need to be there to sell those ice creams. In the past, we often found ourselves lagging behind on these points.”

Bourich: “Cohelion developed for us the Flavor Predictor, which reconciles the balance for the salon managers at the end of the day. They can see how many tubs have been sold and how much stock remains. The system also forecasts how much is expected to be sold tomorrow and what needs to be ordered or produced. Through the Flavor Predictor, the salon manager can also place their orders directly.

If it’s going to be 22°C tomorrow, we’ll need four employees in a salon during the day and another four in the evening. If it’s going to be 23°C the day after tomorrow, we’ll need 18 tubs of Chocolate ice cream, 16 tubs of Vanilla, and 17 tubs of Strawberry. “Then I also know how much cash needs to be on hand per location, and I can order it in advance. We’re not there yet, but in a few years, when all the information is linked, we can sharpen our production and staffing planning, organize procurement better, and achieve procurement benefits. Another advantage is that one manager will be able to manage 15 stores. We’re taking it step by step, and it’s very pleasant for us that Cohelion is a modular platform that can grow with us.”

Regarding the collaboration with Cohelion, Bourich says: “We started as a small organization, without even one business intelligence system. Thanks to the collaboration with Cohelion, we have been able to build something that has been very beneficial for us. I hate formality, and the informal collaboration with the enthusiastic specialists at Cohelion in various disciplines was therefore a breath of fresh air. I foresee a long and fruitful collaboration.”

Peace of mind

thanks to Cohelion

“The use of the data platform gives me peace of mind,” says Bourich. “A lot of the business operations rely on me, and that’s not good. If something were to happen to me tomorrow, this place still needs to keep running. Everything that’s in my head, and much more, should eventually be in the Cohelion Data Platform, providing hidden insights we can act upon. And then, it will be completely streamlined for the future.”

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