3 Ways to Future-Proof Your Restaurant’s Tech Stack

0

It is clear that a digital transformation is no longer a “nice to have” but a necessity for future viability. At Qu, we believe that the winning restaurants in the new post-pandemic economy will be those that embrace modern technological approaches.

Restoration technology has been around longer than mobile phones, which is part of why 70% of operations teams rate their technology stack as “mediocre” or “passable”.

When it comes to managing scale, only 13% of operators said their stack was “very good,” which is very bad news given the pace of change within the restaurant industry.

Restaurants have taken a huge hit in 2021 – and while the industry was initially hesitant, new opportunities have emerged in response to the pandemic and digital ordering needs. But in addition to managing fragile or legacy technology stacks, many restaurant chains are looking to incorporate new operating models, such as shadow and host kitchens, pre-packaged food production, and e-commerce strategies to expand the scope of products.

In this omnichannel environment, foodservice brands know that a “good” tech stack simply won’t cut it.

– 2021 State of Digital for Restaurants Report

It is clear that digital transformation is no longer a good but a necessity for future viability. At Qu, we believe that the winning restaurants of the “new post-pandemic economy” will be those that embrace modern technological approaches (think: agile, scalable, modern platforms) and embrace new ways of thinking and operating.

Here are the top 3 ways we recommend restaurant chains approach their technology updates and digital transformation journey to meet the challenges of the 21st century and beyond.

1) Deploy the right software operating model

While the restaurant POS industry hasn’t changed much in recent years, IT management and administration has come a long way, especially with the advent of more flexible and scalable cloud deployment models. Cloud services were a first step towards simplifying infrastructure management for enterprise restaurant chains, in addition to managed services and platform as a service. Maintaining only on-premises equipment and technology represents both risk and complexity, as it is impossible to maintain the same level of capacity, speed, resiliency, and elasticity available through cloud providers.

The easiest software model to maintain, SaaS, virtualizes everything, so IT departments can focus more on configuring to their specific needs and integrating with other applications in the stack. For most industries, the SaaS model is ideal, but there are some caveats when it comes to real-time connectivity in restaurants. Restaurants rely heavily on end-user hardware for their point-of-sale and production systems, which in turn depend on network connectivity to operate successfully. For this reason, a complete SaaS solution is insufficient.

Infrastructure management can be considered on a continuum from fully self-managed to fully managed by service providers:

Often, the ideal solution will be on the right side of the continuum, close to SaaS, but with data configurability, local connectivity solutions, and allocations for dedicated point-of-sale hardware.

Modular architecture is another important element of a more flexible software deployment model. This approach, along with the recent rise of containerization and dockers, has reduced the inherent complexity of IT’s role for enterprise brands, through increased service and server virtualization. However, even with the availability of these technologies, many restaurant chains are still struggling with software stacks that limit their flexibility, driving up maintenance costs and reducing their ability to quickly integrate new changes.

A modular software architecture can mitigate these challenges while delivering tangible benefits:

  1. The first, as noted above, is that you can integrate these modules with other software that may have already been deployed within your ecosystem, in addition to applications that you may need to deploy in the future, based on business needs or industry advancements.
  2. The second advantage of the modular software architecture is the more choice and flexibility that this model provides – enterprise brands often no longer need to purchase unnecessary features or applications. You can keep the software you love, deploy features based on specific needs, and upgrade when your business needs it.
  3. Finally, a third important advantage is that this approach helps future-proof your business and your technological ecosystem. Implementing a modular architecture helps you meet the needs of a rapidly changing technology landscape and gives you the ability to deploy features faster than you would typically be able to use a legacy software model.

In a space that is changing as rapidly as the restaurant industry, this kind of future makes a huge difference in your agility, your operational costs, and your ability to please and meet your customers’ demands.

Operations and customer engagement have also been heavily influenced by another force that the right restaurant software model can address: integrations.

2) Make sure your tech stack works well with others

Whether you need an inventory management tool, a robust scheduling and labor system, or a more engaging loyalty program, operators are spoiled for choice with our days – there have never been so many potential partners or functional integrations to choose from. However, as exciting as this variety can be, what’s not so exciting is the level of effort, pain, and resources often required to make integrations work with legacy systems and architectures. Legacy systems can be harder to integrate, either because their code is clunky and archaic, or because the vendor intentionally wants to lock you into their product suite. Whatever the reason, it’s crucial for your business to have an API approach that provides the flexibility your business needs to increase functionality, attract new partners, and of course, quickly make changes that improve engagement. of your customers or your operational capabilities. Another area where operations and customer engagement overlap is menu management, which remains one of the most prevalent issues for restaurants.

An integrated database for omnichannel menu management can help you solve one of the most common problems for restaurants: menu variability.

Menus may vary based on regional preferences, delivery channels (pick-up, take-out, third-party delivery, etc.) and inventory. This level of complexity has created a real challenge for operators, who often find themselves distracted from their primary goals of delighting customers and growing their business, due to the need to maintain a multitude of menus.

Single menu handling is one of the major issues that needs to be addressed today, highlighted by common issues such as:

  • Difficulty editing and updating third-party delivery menus in real time
  • An inconsistent customer experience
  • Make regional or location-specific changes
  • Lack of integration between inventory and menus
  • The inability of some franchise owners to offer local specialties
  • Difficulties identifying the same customer when ordering through a different channel

With the rise of new operating models such as shadow and host kitchens, menu variability will only present a more tangible challenge for corporate restaurant chains. The right omnichannel environment will allow for more convenient centralization and location, integration with inventory, and unified guest management and information. Not only does a unified omnichannel experience simplify operations for corporate restaurant brands, but the approach can improve the ability to deliver exactly what the customer needs; while providing important analytics and business insights.

3) Capture, store and normalize your data

One of the most frustrating issues for business leaders is the difficulty of obtaining actionable business insights, in part due to fragmented IT systems. It’s hard to get a full picture of your customers’ habits and glean behavior-based insights when, for example, you can’t relate someone ordering UberEats on Tuesday but then picking up in-store Thursday. Having a fully integrated omnichannel menu is just one of the ways the right software stack provides greater insight. True integration between your various digital ordering, engagement, and production systems can help you better understand customer behavior and restaurant efficiency. However, operators often find themselves at the mercy of outdated architecture, cobbled-together systems and disparate data sources, resulting in a lack of standardized data from which real insights can be drawn – and that restaurants can use. to make agile business decisions.

However, standardization is not the only key to robust data capabilities, what a company is able to do with all that information is arguably more important. The value of a system can often be measured by its processing of data; i.e. good systems may have their own built-in business and analytics tools, while large systems allow for standardized data integration and export of information housed in restaurant software applications typically disparate. An integrated software ecosystem should be a top priority for restaurants, as the benefits of a robust technology stack go beyond mere technical gains. Brands able to harness the power of normalized data can truly realize benefits that directly impact the success and health of their businesses.

Embrace technology to succeed today – and tomorrow

It is evident that robust, integrated and flexible IT and point-of-sale systems are no longer just operational concerns for restaurants, they are now critical differentiators that contribute to a brand’s success and its ability to interact effectively with customers. For this reason, it is crucial that restaurants invest in their future by implementing a technology operating model that delivers tangible operational and customer engagement benefits, in addition to fostering data-driven insights.

Share.

About Author

Comments are closed.