Starbucks is a technology company that sells coffee. Tesla is a technology company that sells cars. Amazon is a technology company that sells…well, everything. In the quick service restaurant (QSR) industry, we are not immune to this trend. In 2022, restaurants cannot just be good at selling cheeseburgers with a side of best-in-class customer service.But here’s the problem: How do restaurant operators and chefs, by trade, become the technologists they need to be to grow their business?
The answer is, through their vendor partners. The Point-Of-Sale (POS) industry has responded with technological advancements that enable restaurants to meet their tech savvy guests’ expectations, while still tantalizing their taste buds. POS companies know that their product must do more than take orders in 2022. Some technological advancements to note are integrations and open API (Application Programming Interface), mobile POS and cloud POS to name a few.
Integrations & Open API
All-in-One solutions are becoming the norm in the POS industry. Companies are not just introducingtheir POS, but also the seamless integration to operational systems like payment processing, kitchen display systems, inventory management, payroll and more.Some companies develop their own solutions and others acquire and brand these integrations. It is important to be aware of this distinction. These integrations speed up order- to -fulfillment time as well as streamline administrative tasks. However, the perfect POS for your business may not be an all-in-one solution.Open API is an alternative that can create tremendous opportunity by allowing for easyand free integration between best-in-class solutions like a POS and loyalty platform. This approach also can complicate a technology stack.Therefore, this technology decision requires buy-in from multiple stakeholders. Finally, it is important to note that the POS is the foundation for a strong restaurant technology company. The strength of its integration and API offering is critical to complete a powerful technology system that will support revenue enhancements like loyalty programs and mobile ordering.
Tablets, kiosks, online ordering, QR Code to order and pay, and mobile ordering are some of the ways restaurants can diversify their revenue streams. In the post-Covid world, and arguably before, consumers want to order food from anywhere. In theQSR industry, well over half of orders are placed outside in the drive-thru (as many as 70-80 percent). Mobile POS tablet or handheld offerings allow for as much as a 50 percent increase in car count per hour. POS companies also offer kiosk POS options if you can manage to get your guests inside the restaurant. Industry experts expected kiosk ordering to revolutionize order taking.But,the most valuable POS solution may be the one already in your guest’s hands. Their phone (or sometimes computer) brings your restaurant to their home, office, or car. Restaurant brands no longer need to wait for the guest to enter their four walls to advertise and sell products. With the growing popularity of mobile ordering and QR (Quick Response) technology, restaurants can simplify their front-of-house operations, reduce overhead and shift their focus to the back-of-house.
Over a decade ago, mathematician Clive Humby said, “Data is the new oil.” Somerestaurant technology companies say their predictive tools and personalized offers can provide a 3 percent sales lift. POS companies are updating or building POS solutions that are cloud or cloud-hybrid, allowing for constant access to real-time data. Access to your POS data allows restaurant companies to make data-driven decisions around staffing, purchasing, promotions, Limited Time Offers (LTOs), and even what and how much to cook. For example, when you can marry POS data with labor data in a data warehouse or a Business Intelligence tool, Operations can measure productivity bysales per labor hour. Loyalty or Business Intelligence tools, powered by POS data, can also employ artificial intelligence to tell you more about guest purchase habits. It also allows for easy, instantaneous menu and price maintenance across your entire system. Need to increase the price of chicken on the fly due to a supply chain hiccup? No problem! Finally, a fully cloud POS removes the server, which is a single point of failure in the restaurant and replaces it with virtual redundancy.
So, before turning your restaurant into the next “technology company that sells fill-in-the-blank,” ask yourself a few questions.
1. Can the IT department support the technology? And the follow-up question, can our physical and technical infrastructure support the technology? Be sure to build a technology team with the skills and experience to build and scale the systems you are trying to implement. Perhaps a sound business case reveals that online ordering is the next best thing for your brand. But you’ll want to ensure that you have the team to build the database and support it operationally in the restaurants first.
2. What is the appetite of your guest demographic? Get to know your guests before implementing new and shiny technology. The best technology to increase sales and grow your business is the technology that your guests will use (and your employees can implement). Alternatively, you may choose technology to expand your customer base.
3. What is your brand image? Today’s POS technology is so advanced that a crew member or employee need not ever speak to the guest to place an order. This may be aligned with some restaurants’ values and goals. But for some, it can take away from the personal, friendly experience that their guests expect and enjoy.A brand’s image and personality must be communicated through the technology it chooses to use.
With these questions in mind and strong vendor partnerships in place, restaurant operators need not worry about navigating the ever-changing technology waters.