We collectively applaud the entire restaurant industry for staying open and innovating on the fly for over two years to ensure the burrito arrives hot and on time. Now it’s time for phase two.
Any restaurant that did business in 2019 and still does today has, almost without exception, invested in half a dozen points solutions to make it work – that loyalty platform, that QR code-powered ordering system , mobile ordering in advance, delivery partners , payment providers, and the list goes on. It has taken them through unprecedented times, but times change.
Savneet SinghCEO and President of PAR Technology, told Karen Webster of PYMNTS: “The pandemic just threw a whole bunch of products at them, but these products don’t talk to each other, they don’t connect to each other. I would say that in absolute terms we still have a long way to go, but they have done a remarkable and admirable job of getting there.
Singh’s point boils down to the fact that the front of house has come a long way while the back office and kitchen have not, and the restaurants that emerge intact from the latest disaster will complete their digital transformation by pouring in solutions from dump point and collecting them.
Smarter kitchens, better business
Noting that the pandemic has seen digital orders reach up to 30% of a restaurant’s revenue in the blink of an eye, Singh said “the back end of the restaurant hasn’t changed. You still had the same workflow, the same process, the same kitchen. Restaurants are really struggling there.
“I think the way they’re going to go about solving it is more software. Ultimately, your kitchen should be as smart as your facade. Your back office should be as smart as your facade. »
This happens, he told Webster, by moving to a single unified system where all streams combine into one highly efficient stream that is easy to modify for performance.
“Your system needs to be smart enough to say, ‘Let’s turn off our Ubers and Door Dash’ or ‘Let’s send a message that you ordered on our app, expect this order to take 90 minutes,'” that is. I mean, maybe not Order Now. This ability to spread out orders, to limit orders, to dynamically manage your kitchen, it all has to come together,” he said.
They call it “unified commerce,” and never has the need for technological unification been greater.
Learn more: PARTech chooses MENU to create unified commerce solutions
Singh said: “Mobile has become a channel, online ordering, but tomorrow it will be Alexa and Siri orders or Snapchat glasses orders, Instagram orders, TikTok live shopping. All of these will be channels you won’t want to shut down.
“You want to be innovative; you want to be in front of your customers, but if those orders aren’t unified with the same system as your in-store orders, your drive-thru orders – which still make up the majority of your transactions – you can’t really run an efficient business.
Dinner on data
Although it’s been around for about 40 years, PAR is part of the next wave of innovators bringing a fully connected concept to restaurants, in their case with a focus on corporate chains.
Business means data – oceans of data – and it’s the secret sauce of the successful coast-to-coast quick-service restaurant (QSR) chain when it comes to phase two of the digital shift .
“The idea that you have a lot more data to make decisions is implicit in the digitalization of restaurants,” Singh said. “What you’re seeing is that restaurants are now able to say, ‘What if we take those 25 items off the menu? Will that allow us to place more orders, piss off a small community of people and not lose loyal customers?” You will see the optimization of this menu. And it will not be the same menu for everyone.
To that end, in August, PAR acquired MENU Technologies, called “an omnichannel ordering solution for international restaurant brands.” It’s a prosaic description of a smart solution that syncs with loyalty and app data to create personalized menus that can end up making a restaurant run more efficiently, with happier customers to boot.
Over time, the data generated will impact everything from what’s (and isn’t) on the menu to the size of restaurants in the near future. If up to 30% of orders currently go through digital channels, that could easily rise to 50% in three years, Singh said.
This, in turn, will drive data-driven introspection like, “Does my store footprint make sense? And doesn’t the print on the front of the house always make sense, but does the kitchen make sense? Are we optimized for delivery? Are we optimized for drive-thru? »
“I think what you’re going to find are more and more solutions like shadow kitchens or cloud kitchens – you’re going to have more delivery points, you’re going to have more drive-thru. I think restaurants are going to consolidate their footprint, focus more on food, and I don’t think you’ll see them jump into meal kits on the grocery side, because I think that will dilute the experience that they try to offer.”
See also: Restaurants Nix the QR Code, PYMNTS Research Reveals
It’s the shape – and taste – of things to come, as Singh said there will be more, albeit unified, technological solutions, including food processors, automated drivers and order consolidation .
“The key again is how do you get all of this to happen at the same time, and that’s going to get unified systems,” he said. “The idea that you have a separate loyalty system, a separate online ordering system, a separate mobile app, a point-of-sale system – if that data isn’t connected, how can you make those decisions?”
Ultimately, you can’t, which makes unified trading and similar ideas appealing to traders.
Bill gets top billing
Putting things into perspective, Singh said: “It’s an amazing statistic, but for most QSR chains, drive-thru accounts for the majority of transactions. This is a very surprising statistic. Most Americans depend on restaurants for their dinners.
That being the case, the question of how to deliver the same quality of food and experience at home as on site comes down, again, to data-driven decision-making.
He said: “It might require you to say, ‘We’re not going to be offering this product for takeout or delivery, we’re actually going to limit this to an in-store experience. This is where I think, again, data can be so powerful. I think you will see the refinement of the menus. I don’t think the actual delivery of the product will change too much, because I think then the cooking becomes more complex, and is it really worth it for this restaurant? »
Closing the loop on a fully unified system is payment, and PAR is working to bring a new payment experience to restaurants and their diners for the unified meal, from order to payment.
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Singh said: “My favorite kind of analog conversation with catering companies is that they often say, ‘I know I’m getting ripped off by my payments provider, I just don’t know how. I used to say, ‘Do you know what you’re being charged for?’ and no one can really tell you what they are charged with. There are all kinds of reasons.
PAR’s solution is designed to be inexpensive and transparent.
“You’re going to know exactly how much we charge,” he said. “We would rather be Costco here than a supplier where you kind of go behind smoke and mirrors to figure out what we would charge. If someone can beat us and that’s all that matters to you, then you have that visibility.
The payments component also allows PAR to be a growth partner for its clients. Being inside his payment ecosystems, he said, “We’ll use this to fund your hardware and capital purchases, so you don’t have to spend $10, 15, $20,000 on everything you upgrade.
“The last thing on my mind is the one that somehow goes [to] be our next layer, which is how do we take that payment data that you have, which is another great value proposition of Par, combine it with your loyalty data, combine it with your loyalty data point of sale and give you something you didn’t have before?”
“We see this business growing like a weed,” he added. “Then later we’ll say, ‘Take that data, and here’s a product or service that you can use as well.'”