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Customer Stories

Monday, July 1st 2024

How Chick-fil-A's internal software is transforming their supply chain

A micro-frontend powered by Next.js, Turborepo, and Vercel drastically reduced build times and improved developer experience.

At Chick-fil-A restaurants, the race is on to get orders to customers quickly with quality and care, which makes every efficiency gain a win. Creating software that not only solves problems but also exceeds users' expectations has transformed Chick-fil-A's internal tools.

Features Highlighted

  • Next.js
  • Turborepo
  • Edge Config

That’s why they migrated from a monolith to a micro-frontend solution powered by Next.js, Turborepo, and Vercel.

Dealing with high volume and pressure as a massive restaurant chain

With more than 3,000 stores and growing, high volume challenges the chain’s ability to keep up with demand. This pressure isn’t just on Chick-fil-A; their suppliers and distribution partners feel it as well.

To address these pressures, Chick-fil-A set out to create a digital power grid to fuel their organization. This system allows them to understand and align on restaurant sales forecasts, view inventory at every location across the network, dynamically split orders, and tailor supply to meet demand.

Signal is the internal platform built to act as a single pane of glass for local restaurant teams to interact with the supply chain. It makes Chick-fil-A more informed, accurate, nimble, and efficient.

Chick-fil-A's internal Signal app.
Chick-fil-A's internal Signal app.

Enhancing developer experience with improved team and app structure

Signal began as a monolithic single-page application maintained by a single UI team. This created a bottleneck: all backend teams had to work through the UI team to implement their functionality.

The solution was to adopt a more distributed approach, with multiple full-stack pods consisting of Kubernetes clusters, middleware, APIs, Turborepo, and Next.js all coming together to power Signal.

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This setup empowers multiple full-stack teams to independently iterate on various applications within Signal’s micro-frontend and acts as an efficiency booster, amplifying engineering capacity and enabling faster, more streamlined development and deployment.

Adopting Turborepo alone reduced build times from 25 minutes to around 5 seconds. And the hours of build time saved across all PRs in a given week are roughly equivalent to adding an additional engineer supporting the Signal platform every 4 days.

Chick-fil-A is increasing engineering capacity not through headcount but through efficiency gained by adopting better tools like Turbo, Next.js, and Vercel. Additionally, Vercel gives the team functionality that wasn’t previously available in their monolith, like serverless functions and Edge Config.

Chick-fil-A uses LaunchDarkly to manage feature flags. With Edge Config, whenever the team makes a change in LaunchDarkly, a webhook triggers and replicates the data across all Vercel Functions connected to the integration.

This means they can call a local static version of the data with zero latency—less than 1 ms—and still evaluate their flags if LaunchDarkly goes down.

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The future of Chick-fil-A’s Signal app

It's essential to create ways of working that encourage developers to apply their energy more to creativity, ingenuity, and user experience rather than solving the same problems repeatedly. Like users, developers also appreciate when the products they work with are reliable and easy to use.

Developer experience isn’t about dictating how teams solve problems; it’s about ensuring they’re solving the right problems. The more easily and effectively developers can get things done, the more bandwidth they have to focus on creating a first-class user experience.

The Chick-fil-A team is looking forward to improving Signal further and are even exploring AI, building a ChatGPT-like internal support chat.

Learn how Vercel can help your developer and user experience.

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25 min to 5 sec

decrease in build times

40 hours

saved in dev time per week

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