“For those specifying equipment, the biggest mistake is making decisions about [technology] in a vacuum, thinking it’s just a POS,” said Joe Carbonara, Editor-in-Chief of FE&S, during FE&S’ Feb. 28 webcast, The Operational Impact of Customer-Facing Technology. Today’s restaurant operators embrace technology because it helps them increase sales, he added, and it can really provide operators with a competitive advantage.
With online ordering and payment, the customer executes these aspects of the transaction, said Juan Martinez, principal at consulting firm Profitality. Additionally, he said, many customers want the technology and seek it out.
Fast-casual pizza chain Uncle Maddio’s does not have its own app. Customers can order via the company’s website, which is optimized for mobile users, or with third-party ordering systems, specifically GrubHub and Uber Eats.
The decision not to invest in its own app may change down the road, but for now, with 50 restaurants, it was not essential, added Scott Goodrich, COO for Uncle Maddio’s. “We are constantly looking for ways to make the experience short and to the point,” he said, “so customers use it.”
For operators exploring the idea of adding customer-facing technology, Martinez offered some advice. Start by evaluating the foodservice operation’s infrastructure. Questions to think about, he said, include: How does the order get to the operation? How is the foodservice operation going to produce the food? How will the operation package the food?
“You might not need more infrastructure at first, but somewhere along the way, you will,” said Martinez. “Be in front of this so you can handle what’s coming.”
Martinez noted that having a kiosk or ipad today is not entirely necessary. “It’s all done from the phone,” he said. “We are moving in that direction.”
One thing both Goodrich and Martinez feel operators should strive to avoid is overwhelming a particular location. That will erode both experiences of the guest that chooses to order the traditional way and those that choose to order using technology.
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