News Briefs

  • 7/11/2023

    SWIPEBY Adds AI

    Swipeby AI screen shot

    SWIPEBY is rolling out a whole set of AI-driven features in its holistic direct ordering platform that will use the power of AI to improve customer interaction, upselling purchases, making reviews more manageable and powerful, and improving marketing within. Additionally, local businesses that have traditionally fallen behind enterprise organizations now have an advanced tech engine working for them without needing technical expertise or large time commitments.

    Earlier this year, SWIPEBY rolled out its Snapshot AI tool for restaurants to quickly and easily generate food photos based on menu descriptions. Now SWIPEBY with AI includes a suite of AI features across multiple business functions. Upselling and cross-selling, reviews management, remarketing are the first AI-driven features to be released.

    • SWIPEBY Edda functions as a customer-facing AI Guest Assistant. Edda provides a human-like interaction with a customer that makes useful suggestions for additional items the customer may want to purchase. Not just a programmatic  upselling and cross-selling tool, Edda uses common sense and wide training in addition to items in the shopping cart, available items, order history and other real-time customer and business data points to make highly personalized suggestions. It will never just say, “because other people purchased this,” instead it will give solid reasoning for the suggestions. Operators will be able to see what menu items have been selected based on Edda’s suggestions. SWIPEBY chose to prioritize the release of Edda because upselling and cross-selling can significantly boost revenues for a business. It is estimated that product recommendations drive up to 30 percent of e-commerce site revenues according to a Barilliance 2020 report.
    • SWIPEBY AI Review Consultant means a business never misses the opportunity to respond to a review. SWIPEBY’s 5-star Review Management tool, released in 2022, helps increase stellar reviews for its operators. Now SWIPEBY with AI expands upon that by keeping track of all new public reviews and crafting an appropriate response using business data, such as current promotions and specials. The operator is notified via text of each review and the suggested response and can approve to post or send editing notes to receive a new draft. In this way, they quickly acknowledge five-star reviews and address negative comments that are in the language of the reviewer, engage with their customer and increase loyalty to build a brand that is responsive, personable and caring. A Trustpilot study showed that 53 percent of consumers look at all reviews before making a purchase, and 88 percent will use a business that responds to all reviews. Responding promptly and appropriately to reviews, even negative ones, leads to more positive reviews and higher customer ratings.
    • SWIPEBY Deep Reviews Insights is a monthly AI-driven report that provides an analysis of public reviews and an easily digestible summary from vast amounts of public data. It provides insights that would typically require an expensive consulting firm.
    • SWIPEBY AI Remarketing significantly upgrades SWIPEBY’s current remarketing engine. As with the current programmatic remarketing tool, the new AI-driven feature sends emails to customers that haven’t ordered after a certain number of days. The difference is that the new version is entirely AI powered. AI plans and writes unique emails for each customer every time. Instead of a cookie-cutter approach to mass email that uses templates, merge tags, etc., SWIPEBY AI Remarketing creates and sends custom content for every interaction using real time data like promotions, order history, available items, time of day, weather and other inputs. A McKinsey & Company study showed that 71 percent of consumers expect companies to deliver personalized interactions. Operators can see email statistics, the content that was sent and the performance of the coupons they offer.

    SWIPEBY Edda, AI Review Consultant and Remarketing are available now for select SWIPEBY operators. Deep Review Insights is in beta with social media management and pricing recommendations expected to be rolled out in July. Other AI features will be released on a biweekly to monthly schedule.

    Due to the popularity of AI and high impact of features, SWIPEBY has opened a waitlist for businesses interested in taking advantage of the capabilities. Those interested in joining the list can complete the form found at https://swipe.by/.

  • 6/21/2023

    Shiji and IPORT Partner to Transform Hotel Restaurant Operations with All-in-One Tablet and Payment Device Solution

    Shiji teaser logo

    Shiji, a global hospitality technology innovator, has partnered with IPORT, an award-winning manufacturer known for enhancing the usability of iPads and iPhones, to introduce an all-in-one software solution for hotel restaurants. This collaboration will provide hoteliers with a seamless combination of a tablet and payment device to maximize their F&B operations.

    The integrated iOS and payment device solution simplifies guest service for hotel restaurant servers, providing them with an effortless tool to cater to their guests' needs. As a certified Apple partner, Shiji and IPORT guarantee exceptional performance and reliability. Hoteliers can choose from multiple device options, including iPad Pro, iPad Mini, and iPhone, ensuring flexibility and compatibility with their operations.

    “IPORT products are built around modularity and flexibility that empower our hospitality customers to do more with the iOS platform. We are thrilled to partner with a leading iPad and iPhone cloud PMS and POS platform provider like Shiji,” said Chris Lawson, Head of Partnerships, IPORT. “We look forward to innovating with Shiji in disrupting legacy, monolithic providers who have limited the industry from harnessing the power of iOS and mobility. The future is bright, and the possibilities are endless with IPORT, iOS, and Shiji.”

    "The partnership with IPORT is a significant milestone for Shiji in our commitment to provide innovative technology solutions for the hospitality industry," said Ryan King, Senior Vice President of Shiji in the Americas. "By combining our expertise with IPORT’s hardware solutions, we empower hoteliers to streamline restaurant operations and deliver exceptional guest experiences. This collaboration represents another step forward in our dedication to driving success in the Americas, and globally."

    The tablet and payment device solution seamlessly integrates with multiple payment gateways, allowing hoteliers to choose the system that best suits their needs. By simplifying the payment process, it reduces operational complexities, minimizes errors, and saves valuable time and resources for hoteliers.

  • 6/24/2023

    Steak n Shake Adds New Way to Pay

    Steak n Shake exterior in Indy

    Steak n Shake will offer PopID Check In and PopPay on its self-ordering kiosks in select locations in the Orlando market, with plans to expand to more than 300 corporate locations. PopID Check In is an opt-in service that enables consumers to scan their face to automatically sign into their loyalty reward account and see their past orders, making the ordering process as convenient as possible. When a guest checks in with PopID, they also have the option to use PopPay to automatically complete their payment.

    “Our partnership with PopID is a key part of our effort to provide guests with a fast and seamless ordering experience," said Keith Correia, Chief Information Officer. "When using PopID Check In, a guest does not need to use their phone or take out their wallet as part of the ordering process. They will automatically be checked in for loyalty rewards, and they can choose to make an automated payment with PopPay. A guest can even see their past orders and quickly reorder their favorite menu items. Ordering at Steak n Shake has never been easier or more convenient.”

    In addition to enhancing the guest experience and improving order throughput, PopPay helps to reduce fraud and offers lower payment processing fees.

  • 7/11/2023

    Palmer Digital Group Adds Audio Enclosure Option for Digital Menu Board Customers

    digital menu board pdg

    Palmer Digital Group, a full-service supplier and installer of indoor and outdoor digital kiosks, now offers optional speaker-microphone enclosures for its entire range of outdoor digital menu board systems, covering single, double and triple-display solutions for its pedestal and canopy structures. The protective enclosures eliminate the need for a separate foundation to support QSR drive-thru audio systems, reducing costs and infrastructure while also simplifying cable management and menu board maintenance.

    Palmer Digital Group (PDG) innovated the design last year for its single-board solutions, becoming the first company to offer an optional speaker-mic enclosure design as part of a complete digital menu board structure. Now available for all structures, customers can request the option on an initial order or add the enclosure to the installed structure when needed. In-field upgrades require no special tools, with installations completed in less than one hour.

    The enclosures were developed after speaking with customers who wanted to further streamline their outdoor ordering systems in accordance with drive-thru modernization strategies. Customers can choose side-mount or under-mount configurations, with each option offering the same operational benefits to QSRs.

    To achieve this streamlined cable management, the speaker-mic-wire is fed into the pedestal from underneath and then run through PDG’s horizontal display support. From this point, the speaker-mic cable is fed into the enclosure, where the final connections are made. The side-mount speaker-mic enclosures have the added benefits of a 20-degree swivel, which allows installers to optimize the clarity of the speaker and mic, which most often comprise products from 3M (PAR), HME and/or Panasonic.

    Custom colors are available for all outdoor menu boards and enclosures to align with a customer’s brand. 

    

  • 7/11/2023

    Chipotle Adds Avocado-Processing Robot

    chipotle avocado robot

    Chipotle Mexican Grill  announced Autocado, an avocado processing cobotic prototype that cuts, cores, and peels avocados before they are hand mashed to create the restaurant’s guacamole. The prototype, developed in collaboration with Vebu, is currently being tested at the Chipotle Cultivate Center in Irvine, California. 

    How It Works 

    1. A team member loads Autocado with a full case of ripe avocados and selects the size setting. Autocado can hold up to 25 lbs. of avocados at once.
    2. One at a time, avocados are vertically oriented, then transferred to the processing device.
    3. The avocados are sliced in half. Their cores and skin are automatically removed, and the waste is discarded. 
    4. The fruit is safely collected in a stainless-steel bowl in the bottom of the device. 
    5. A team member removes the bowl of avocado fruit and moves it to the counter where they add additional ingredients and hand mash the avocados to make Chipotle’s signature guacamole. 

    Autocado’s Origin Story 

    Vebu worked closely with Certified Training Managers from Chipotle’s restaurants to analyze the company’s preparation process and identify tasks that are time consuming and less favorable among crew members. Chipotle currently has individuals dedicated to cutting, coring, and scooping avocados. On average, it takes approximately 50 minutes to make a batch of guacamole. 

     

    Autocado’s Potential Impact
    The Vebu team is aiming to improve the device’s processing speeds, which could ultimately reduce guacamole prep time by 50%, allowing Chipotle employees to focus on serving guests and providing great hospitality. In restaurants across the U.S., Canada, and Europe this year, the company is expected to use approximately 4.5 million cases of avocados, equivalent to more than 100 million pounds of fruit. In support of Chipotle’s sustainability initiatives and waste reduction efforts, Autocado also aims to increase avocado fruit yield through precision processing, which could lead to millions of dollars in annual food cost savings if the cobot is successfully developed and deployed widely.

    “We are committed to exploring collaborative robotics to drive efficiencies and ease pain points for our employees,” said Curt Garner, Chief Customer and Technology Officer at Chipotle. “The intensive labor of cutting, coring, and scooping avocados could be relieved with Autocado, but we still maintain the essential culinary experience of hand mashing and hand preparing the guacamole to our exacting standards.” 

    Integration of AI and Machine Learning  

    Vebu is developing an artificial intelligence and machine learning stack to be connected to all its robotic solutions, where applicable. The goal is for future iterations of Autocado to use machine learning and sensor fusion to evaluate the quality of the avocados and quantify waste reduction as well as the efficiency of the cutting, coring, and peeling processes.

    Cultivate Next 

    Chipotle is investing in Vebu as part of Cultivate Next, the company’s $50 million venture fund that intends to make early-stage investments into strategically aligned companies that further its mission to Cultivate a Better World and help accelerate its aggressive growth plans. As a people-first company, Chipotle is seeking opportunities that will elevate the human experience for its teams as well as increase access and convenience for its guests. Investments may include innovations in farming and supply chain, advanced robotics, alternative proteins, and more.

    Through Cultivate Next, Chipotle has previously invested in Hyphen, a foodservice platform designed to help restaurant owners, operators, and budding chefs move their business forward by automating kitchen operations. Hyphen’s first product, The Makeline, is being tested as a system that uses advanced software and robotics to automate meal production for all digital orders under the counter while allowing staff to assemble in-house orders from the top of the counter.

    Chippy 

    In addition to Autocado, Chipotle is currently testing Chippy, an autonomous kitchen assistant that integrates culinary traditions with artificial intelligence to make tortilla chips, in a Fountain Valley, Calif., restaurant. 

  • 7/11/2023

    Next Generation of Hapi Solves for Hotel Data Integrations at Scale

    hapi data integration aws

    Hapi, a platform for fast and cost-effective connectivity between technology systems, is excited to announce new infrastructure in partnership with AWS that is providing hotel companies access to critical guest and transactional data in revolutionary ways.

    Newly built in the Amazon AWS environment, the Hapi Data Platform can provide data from technology systems “at rest,” or in storage, that hotel companies can access quicker. Now, hotel brands can connect directly to a stream of data or consume the data on their terms. As part of its efforts, Hapi recently received the Travel and Hospitality ISV Partner Competency designation from AWS. 

    “Proving data at rest is the modern way of connecting companies to their data,” says Luis Segredo, founder and CEO at Hapi. “It enables companies to employ modern data strategies, like those provided by Snowflake or Salesforce Data Cloud, quickly and efficiently.  It’s a natural evolution of Hapi’s mission to make data actionable and accelerate innovation.”

    The Hapi Data Platform consumes event streams from the Hapi Integration Platform that has also been rebuilt from the ground up. This multimillion dollar investment builds upon the years of experience refining connectors and normalizers from disparate hotel technology systems. The new Integration Platform, also employing the latest technologies from AWS, is built to scale for hotel groups of any size.

    Finally, a new feature within Hapi Guest CRM, Hapi’s off the shelf hospitality CRM solution built on Salesforce, empowers front office teams to provide more personalized guest check-in experiences. Hapi Guest Focus serves front-desk agents with above-property guest profile and preference information in a side-by-side window within their current PMS interface.

    Today, leading hotel brands like Hyatt Hotels & Resorts, Great Wolf Resorts, IHG and Sonesta Hotels & Resorts are relying on the Hapi Integration Platform to push and pull data from disparate Property Management Systems throughout their portfolio into one central data stream. Comprehensive APIs allow these hotel brands and more to learn more about their guests and the activity at the property level than they ever have before.

    “More open integrations among tech providers and better partnerships with large scale data warehouses have led to improved data models within some hospitality organizations,” says SriHari Thotapalli, Head of Hapi Data Platform. “To truly catch up with the innovation happening in other industries, hoteliers should partner with companies experienced in building platforms that unlock hospitality data.”

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