Restaurants need to be more nimble with technology. What should restaurants look for in tech partners to foster this flexibility?
ALAN HICKEY: Restaurants need to look for vertical specific hardware and software partners because the flexibility that will be built into those solutions will be specific to their use case. When non-vertical solutions are used — whilst they might have flexibility — that flexibility doesn’t necessarily apply to the restaurant space. When restaurants use a vertical specific hardware/software solution, they benefit from the experience that provider has had with other restaurant clients and their needs/solutions. That solution is more likely to have already addressed your restaurant’s specific needs – because restaurants before you have had that same or a similar need. And if it hasn’t been addressed, it’s likely on a product roadmap.
Systems integration remains a top goal for restaurants. What strategic steps will be necessary in order to achieve this? How must technology suppliers support operators to enable integration?
I think it’s really quite simple, I would not recommend any supplier that doesn’t have an open API. There are amazing tech stack players out there from EPOS providers to order aggregators (VROMO sits in the dispatch and customer engagement space), and we don’t know what the next awesome player is going to be. Pigeonholing yourself into a limited number of integrations today is a very dangerous position. Five years ago digital delivery was a very new thing, now it’s all over the place. Order aggregation with the likes of Chowly, Ordermark and Checkmate is now exploding too. This market moves very quickly and being able to tie in to those different tech stacks is important.
How should restaurants leverage an omnichannel technology strategy to foster customized, digital guest experiences that drive satisfaction?
Restaurants have a real opportunity to give diners a new but very brand centric experience to a customer. In my mind it doesn’t matter if a customer has come to a restaurant through Grubhub, UberEats, Deliveroo or their own channel, that customer is engaging with the brand because they want that brand product. So combining a brand experience with that product is the same as a customer walking into a restaurant. Why are they walking in? Why are they dining in? Because they enjoy the brand and experience. I think restaurants need to start providing that same feel in the off premise order because that’s where the engagement, loyalty and relationship with
the customer is being built.
Identifying ROI continues to be a top challenge for restaurant operations in 2020. How can technology be optimized to boost profits?
One of the biggest challenges for the restaurant sector at the moment is that decisions are not being driven by opinion but by hard data. That’s what technology has done for the restaurant sector. In the past, decisions were based on a feeling. Now restaurants can look into data and can define how busy they are, where customers are coming from, what the footfall looks like, what the order capacity looks like, what the fleet management capacity looks like, etc. However, having the data is one thing, knowing how to read it is another issue. So when selecting software providers, I would urge restaurants to make sure that there’s some form of analysis or analytic software tied in to those data streams. If not find one that can read it because interpreting data is as important as capturing it.