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Executive Q&A: A Holistic View of Restaurant Operations

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Ashish Tulsian, Co-founder & CEO, Restroworks

Please speak to the benefits of a POS that offers a range of restaurant management tools.

POS has continued to stay at the heart of restaurant operations. Since COVID, we have been hearing that the POS is dead. Honestly, even I felt the same for a while. Today in a post-COVID world, POS continues to operate as the most important tool in the restaurant management stack. It will continue because the transaction at a restaurant starts at the POS, and wherever the transaction begins, that remains the epicenter of the problem as well as the solution.

Restaurants need to choose a POS with other complimentary restaurant management tools because the restaurant is a single problem from an operations perspective; it cannot be solved by ten different means or products that try to work with each other because we all know that they never do. The problem today is that you don't get a lot of solutions in the market that have taken a holistic view of restaurant operations, and that is why the norm is that you go to ten different providers who specialize in one problem set and then you stack all these products on top of each other and wish that they will work seamlessly. My submission is that “the POS is not dead, it is the restaurant technology that is broken.”

How can restaurants seamlessly integrate POS with food delivery?

Integrating POS into food delivery aggregators is not just about the order flows; it is more to do with the seamlessness of the process. To achieve a seamless experience, restaurants need to have a central menu strategy, which means that operators need to have their menu architecture placed at a central level. Not only the food delivery players should consume it, but also marketplaces, kiosks, QR code ordering, digital menu as well as restaurants’ own POS system.

The seamlessness we are talking about here is not only receiving and injecting the order into POS but also taking the menu changes like pricing, items, add-ons, configuration change, and menu structure changes should also be consumed by every player in the ecosystem directly.

One of the biggest problems we are facing today is that without central control, we want all the moving parts to talk to each other in a many-to-many relationship between POS, QR Code, Kiosk, App, and other touchpoints.

We are in 2022. It is time for operators must have a one-to-many relationship where all our configuration sits in a central place, ideally on the cloud.  Every other part of the ecosystem, which includes POS, brands, websites, and apps, should consume the menu and configuration from that central cloud.

At Restroworks, we have solved this piece with our open API framework that can be deployed globally with possibly any food delivery aggregators, middle-layer solution providers, or direct integrations with any complimentary technology solution in over 50 countries.

Since the launch of our Integration Marketplace in 2020, we have seen a tremendous response. In 2022 we saw nearly 50% growth in published application listings to our Marketplace, hosting over 400+ integrations. This easy-to-use marketplace allows our customers to browse our extensive partner network and filter it by solution type, region, or release date, to help make the decision-making process more straightforward.

What are some critical considerations when integrating new payment methods such as e-wallets, crypto, and more?

Nearly nine in ten Americans are now using some form of digital payment. McKinsey’s 2022 Digital Payments Consumer Survey suggests that the share of consumers using two or more digital payments has grown even more rapidly—from 51 percent in 2021 to 62 percent in 2022.  As such, restaurants need to seek a point-of-sale (POS) that enables consumers to choose how they would like to pay.

We must consider three things whenever a new payment method is integrated into a restaurant technology stack.

1. How seamless is it for a customer to pay through the payment mechanism in use, and how does the customer discover it as a possible payment mechanism? One critical consideration is that you don't want the order taker to key in the wrong payment key or amount.

2. How does the refund process work with the payment mechanism? In F&B there is always a possibility of customer complaints resulting in a refund or return. And if operators don't take care of this, it can become the reason for brand reputation damage, and it becomes a really bad experience for customers if they have anxiety of the return or they have to follow up with the restaurant. This mechanism should be seamless and ideally initiated at the POS itself.

3. How large is the already existing ecosystem around that payment mechanism, as each payment mechanism brings in its complexity in terms of backward and forward compatibility. As an operator, you don't want to include an aggregator with too many options and lose sight of what consistently works and what does not. So, payment wallets and mechanisms with an already-built consumer ecosystem should be preferred and proactively included.

How can customer data fuel loyalty, menu optimization, and revenue?

We need to change how we look at data. Today, customer data is not all about marketing; it’s about intelligence. It is about knowing how a customer consumes the menu, the frequency of visits, ticket prices, and other indicators.

1. Customer Data +  Loyalty. The traditional understanding of loyalty is to bring the customer back to the restaurant. In a Fine-dine vs. Starbucks, customers can practically get a Starbucks every day, but you may only want to repeat a fine-dine restaurant once a month.

Does it mean fine dining cannot have loyalty? Both of these formats need to look at the data differently. The leading indicator of loyalty for Starbucks is the frequency of visits because they know customers will buy if they walk in. While for a fine dining restaurant, a customer's loyalty can be seen as the total amount they have spent in a lifetime.

2. Customer Data +  Menu. There is a 90:10 ratio between the most ordered items and the items that are least ordered.  If you look at menu consumption data and then try to see the difference in the behavior of a repeat customer vs. a new customer, these two insights will tell you, in reality, what part of your menu is the best. You can also know what to remove and what to double down. For example, you will see new customers who tried a certain item, how many were repeated, and how many were lost.

3. Customer Data +  Revenue. Eighty percent of your restaurant’s sales come from 20 percent of top-selling items. Building and using a restaurant customer data platform can give operators a new level of guest satisfaction and marketing success.  Marketing automation and CRM tools can provide detailed customer information, enabling you to create robust customer data. For example, McDonald’s selling only a burger is not going to help, but with fries and coke, it is magic. When you have the customer data sorted, your revenue can be optimized by figuring out what kind of offers can be made for specific customers. These offers can be valued by bundling the high-margin items with the most selling products.

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