A YORK-BASED software developer has cooked up a coup with the news that Marks & Spencer is to use its innovative system for predicting sales in all of its 534 in-store bakeries in the UK.

RedBlack Software’s Cybake Instore sales-based predictive ordering solution cuts waste and increases revenue by telling bakery staff the best combination of products to bake at the right times of the day. The Press reported last year that the system was being trialled in a selection of M&S stores.

Cybake Instore is cloud-based and integrates with an existing M&S system. It uses historical sales data to calculate ‘production waves’ throughout the day in a way that is not practical manually. Staff assumptions about consumer preferences are corrected and each production wave is optimised for potential sales. As well as reducing waste, this ensures high standards of freshness and quality are maintained and improved upon.

Lance Bennett, senior IT project manager at M&S, said the retailer chose RedBlack Software because of its bakery-sector expertise and agile approach to development.

He said: “We have seen benefits in product availability and waste levels equal to or exceeding our business case across most stores and are now in the process to extending the solution to all of our in-store bakeries.”

Cathy Paine, an M&S bakery specialist, said: “After a very small amount of time, even the less tech-savvy bakers were fully up to speed and using the solution without issues.”

Cybake Instore is part of RedBlack Software’s Cybake suite of bakery management software solutions. Bakeries and confectioners throughout the UK and Ireland use Cybake to control production and link back offices to shop floors, stores, deliveries and beyond.

Jane Tyler, managing director of King Street-based RedBlack Software, said: “M&S has a clear strategy to make the very best use of its big data sets. Cybake Instore is a perfect example of an application that exploits this data to produce tangible benefits pretty much straight away.”

Ms Tyler, who is also an executive committee member of the British Society of Baking, said RedBlack originally developed sales-based planning and ordering with its larger bakery chain customers.

She says: “Since we launched Cybake Instore as a stand-alone cloud application at April’s Foodex, it has sparked some heavyweight interest. I believe that’s partly because it applies to both in-store bakers that bake from scratch and to those that bake from frozen.

“By guiding in-store bakeries through the day’s peaks and troughs in demand it means, for example, that staff don’t bake too much in the morning wave, so products are fresher throughout the day.”