Savneet Singh is currently CEO of PAR technology Corporation (NYSE:PAR), a provider of retail point of sale software.
Restaurant diners got a taste of non-traditional ways to order, pay for and access their favorite foods. As traditional indoor restaurant services return, many customers are pleased to have the options businesses have adopted during Covid, including pre-order for takeout, street-side delivery or take-out and drive-thrus with quick service.
Restaurants that cater to guest expectations already face a range of concerns about cost, competition and staff shortages, and face additional pressures to innovate. These challenges are compounded for major brands with layers of internal and franchise complexity. How can these restaurants continue to serve diners, respond to changing tastes and make ordering and obtaining food easy? They can move to a unified commerce approach.
Restaurants need to consolidate technologies and suppliers
Today, restaurants are expected to provide incredible in-store experiences while running a kitchen at the same time. To solve this challenge, restaurants have bought tons of different pieces of software, each with a very specific task. However, none of these products are natively integrated, so they create huge problems around data integrity and data management, making it nearly impossible for restaurants to have a simplistic, unified view of their business.
Unified commerce takes these disparate products and connects them, so restaurants can focus on their customer touchpoints and not have to rely on too many suppliers. And as digital continues to grow, restaurant owners need a unified perspective so they can make smart decisions about investments, marketing dollars and labor. Transforming to unified commerce can equip multi-unit brands for innovation now and prepare them for new guest opportunities and demands they may face in the future.
There is a widespread demand for comprehensive and integrated ordering and payment experiences, leading to a growing desire for technology that supports the many facets of running a restaurant. As operations become more complex and expensive, finding efficiency is essential. One way unified commerce can address this is by helping restaurants shorten their supplier rosters. By working with fewer suppliers for their technology needs, restaurants can reduce data silos; improve integrations; reducing the burden on supplier contracts, management and creditors; and improve overall technology performance.
A study conducted by Popmenu showed that: 30% of respondents are consolidating technology suppliers in 2022. Restaurants wishing to unify commerce must look for partners with expertise in different aspects of the hospitality industry and its technologies. Established providers can provide robust and native integrations or all the documentation and APIs a restaurant operator’s own technical team needs to easily transition to unified commerce. These integrations and APIs help enable interoperability and data integration.
Restaurant Success Stories for Unified Trade
In the food and beverage services technology industry, the ultimate focus is usually on enhancing the hospitality experience and putting the guest at the center of attention.
For example, IHOP is transforming its technology to put more emphasis on the guest experience through initiatives such as its loyalty program, known as the International Bank of Pancakes. The company is also implementing other technologies that directly impact the guest experience, including better Wi-Fi, multiple payment options, adoption a new point of sale platform, launching a food ordering app and updating the IHOP website. These steps in the technical transformation make the business goal less about the transaction of selling breakfast and lunch dishes and more about what makes the guest happy.
Salsarita’s is another restaurant that has refined its business models during the pandemic. It started by offering online ordering, third-party delivery, curbside, drive-thru and catering as ways to continue serving guests. The technology stack the company also has a loyalty and marketing system, a point of sale, payments and a back office at its 85 locations.
By adopting Unified Commerce, businesses stay informed
This strategy is the necessary adjustment that can help the hospitality industry stay relevant. For example, companies around the world are considering the advancement — and rapid customer adoption — of online, app-based and third-party ordering, as well as the need to integrate these innovations with point-of-sale systems.
In particular, traders who took on this challenge with tech stacks that were hastily cobbled together failed to really reinvent their infrastructure. They didn’t understand how unified commerce can simplify and integrate systems and datasets.
The transformation in the restaurant space is still moving fast. The operators and brands that address this by applying fundamental unified commerce principles will be best positioned for the competition and other unforeseen challenges ahead.