Businesses in the continually changing restaurant industry need ISVs to step up and provide applications that enable them to meet new challenges. Jon Levin, Star Micronics’ Product Integration Manager, explains how current industry trends are creating demand for new restaurant software application features.
Which restaurant trends are impacting the types of software applications that restaurateurs use?
Levin: Customers expect to be able to order their food in a variety of different ways. The increase in minimum wages and higher operating costs has fuelled the rapid increase of self-service kiosk solutions.
Another massive change in the industry is the proliferation of online ordering solutions. The last several years have seen an explosion of online ordering platforms servicing restaurants, often providing delivery services as well, taking a cut of each order. Some, however, are foregoing major platforms and using a service provided by their POS provider so they can keep more of their revenue.
Do customers want more control of their dining experiences? How can ISVs help restaurants meet that customer demand?
Levin: This is what is motivating much of the shifts in the industry. Customers are looking for more control over their experiences, and restaurants are tasked with finding innovative new ways to meet this demand. ISVs can help by building and offering solutions that simplify restaurant operations and give customers more control, like online ordering solutions, while also helping them engage with their customers through direct marketing, loyalty, etc.
Is the industry seeing a surge of off-premises dining?
Levin: Online ordering and delivery are growing immensely, and this has sparked the rise of a creative new trend: the ghost kitchen. These facilities have no dining room and are delivery-only. This can provide established restaurants and new businesses alike with opportunities to try out new locations and food types with a much lower start-up cost by just focusing on delivery. Be advised: any restaurant looking to implement a ghost kitchen would need to have suitable online ordering capabilities in place to manage this.
How will that impact the types of management solutions restaurants use?
Levin: Restaurants are in need of solutions that can merge off-premises stream of orders with what’s happening within the restaurant. They also need to provide the same high-quality, reliable service to online orders as they do for customers in the restaurant, where the process is well-defined and visible. By giving restaurants a way to manage all of these order streams more effectively, they can make sure they have adequate coverage and can deliver positive customer experiences both on-site and off.
Can ISVs help restaurants operate more efficiently with new software features?
Levin: Yes, through innovation and intelligent software. Many of the tech sector’s current buzzwords can be applied to restaurant management software to make operations more efficient:
- The “cloud” allows all of the data from multiple sources (POS, online ordering, loyalty, etc.) to exist outside the restaurant in an accessible way.
- “Open APIs” allow the various software vendors to partner with each other and collaborate on solutions that solve problems for restaurants.
- “Artificial intelligence, or AI,” allows POS, online ordering, etc. to intelligently gauge when a restaurant will be busy, what its capabilities are at any given moment, how long an online order will likely take, and more.
Software providers need to think about how they can give restaurants more visibility and control and, ultimately, a more seamless operation.
What advice do you have for ISVs developing software for this industry?
Levin: In many ways, I see the situation today as similar to the omnichannel reckoning the retail industry went through. It’s impossible for a restaurant to manage so many different silos in their restaurant when they are operating totally independently. Whether software providers decide to build the whole stack of solutions, or open up and work with other companies, the solutions must integrate and work together for restaurants to have any chance. ISVs who can solve these pain points are the next leaders in hospitality.