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Restaurants: Go Futuristic with Mobile Technologies, Data Intelligence

Vine-ripened, hand-picked tomatoes, 100% whole milk mozzarella cheese, the perfect blend of herbs and spices, and . . . iPads? As the owner of Flying Saucer Pizza, a fast casual sci-fi pizzeria in Seattle, I don’t share my recipes widely. But as the hospitality industry navigates new terrain where e-commerce giants like Amazon are chipping away at brick-and-mortar real estate, I’m willing to divulge a few important ingredients that have empowered my restaurant to not only keep pace but also grow its customer base. To remain competitive in the age of immediacy, today every restaurant owner needs to stay on top of data-driven strategies, whether helming a single shop or a franchise. Mobile tech innovations are core to Flying Saucer’s secret sauce, and the impact on our business efficiencies and customer satisfaction has truly proven to be out of this world.
A few years ago, I not only owned this pizzeria but I also worked in the retail tech space. I was well-positioned to track Amazon’s moves, and I knew they had our number. I predicted they would break into grocery retail, and when it comes to pizza . . . you never know what the future holds. To stay ahead of the competition, I knew we needed to look ahead to the next big thing, but we also had to be smart about how we adopted new hardware and software.
Early on, we targeted operational efficiencies in the restaurant, specifically around order accuracy and reducing overall labor costs. Pricey Kitchen Display Systems (KDSes) have been around for 30 years, but recent innovations in point of sale (POS) technologies have made the implementation of mobile solutions both affordable and immediate. At Flying Saucer Pizza, we are integrated with Revel Systems, an iPad POS and business platform. The technology is scalable, and offers software designed to optimize operations, workflow, and product quality. If your restaurant has a multi-stage set-up, each order can be easily expedited across these different stations and delivered to its final location. POS software can also help with delivery coordination, mapping the best route for your driver and enable integrations with third party ordering and delivering solutions.
Revel’s management console also provided me access to valuable data insights. We look at the restaurants' analytics every day, and we can chart sales trends based on the time of year, which allows us to more accurately predict the amount of labor we should employ, and the quantity of food we should purchase. I can access and review this data whether I’m at the restaurant or 3,000 miles away on vacation.
While a perfectly crafted gourmet pizza pie will never go out of style, these days it’s clear that much is changing behind kitchen doors. Which invites the question: What’s next?
I predict one-touch ordering solutions will further transform restaurants. We can expect to see this feature on customer apps that integrate with POS APIs, allowing customers to re-order their favorite pizza without a second thought. With the touch of a single button -- “I want my Saucer!” -- a pizza can be ordered, queued, and input for delivery.
Machines and hardware automation will also increasingly help restaurant staff make food faster and more efficiently, allowing restaurants to keep prices low and still deliver the same high-quality experience. This doesn’t mean the human touch will be lost, or rendered any less necessary. Rather, an automated dough divider and rounder can save hours of rote human labor and can free up restaurant employees to hone their skills in the culinary arts and in hospitality management.
Restaurant owners and their staff are entering a brave new world where man and machine exist side by side, and the process of ordering, producing and delivering a delicious pizza has a decidedly space-age flavor. By deploying mobile technologies and data-driven digital strategies, you’ll ensure a seamless customer experience and best position your shop to live long and prosper.
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