Savneet Singh is currently CEO of PAR Technology Corporation (NYSE:PAR), a provider of point of sale software to the retail industry.
Restaurant guests have gotten a taste of nontraditional ways of ordering, paying for and accessing their favorite foods. While traditional indoor restaurant services are returning, many customers like having the options businesses adopted during Covid, including ordering ahead for takeout, delivery or curbside pickup and quick-serve drive-thrus.
Already facing a range of cost, competition and staffing shortage concerns, restaurants responding to guest expectations face additional innovation pressure. These challenges compound for large brands with layers of internal and franchise complexity. How can these restaurants continue to serve guests, meet changing tastes and make ordering and accessing food simple? They can transition into a unified commerce approach.
Restaurants Need To Consolidate Technologies and Vendors
Today, restaurants are expected to deliver incredible in-store experiences while simultaneously running a kitchen. To solve this challenge, restaurants have bought tons of different pieces of software, each addressing a very specific task. However, none of these products are natively integrated, so they’re creating tremendous issues around data integrity and data management—making it almost impossible for restaurants to have a simplistic, unified view of their business.
Unified commerce takes these disparate products and connects them, allowing restaurants to focus on their customer touch points and avoid having to rely on too many vendors. And as digital continues to expand, restaurant owners are going to need a unified perpsective so they can make smart decisions around investments, marketing dollars and labor. Transformation to unified commerce can equip multi-unit brands for innovation now and prepare them for new opportunities and guest demands they may face in the future.
There’s a widespread demand for expanded 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 complicated and expensive, finding efficiencies is essential. One way unified commerce can address this is by helping restaurants trim their vendor rosters. Working with fewer vendors for their technology needs allows restaurants to reduce data silos; improve integrations; lower the vendor contracting, management and accounts payable burden; and improve overall technology performance.
A survey conducted by Popmenu showed that 30% of respondents will consolidate technology vendors in 2022. Restaurants that want to unify commerce need to look for partners with expertise across various aspects of the hospitality industry and its technologies. Well-established providers can offer robust and native integrations or all the documentation and APIs that a restaurant operator’s own tech team needs to easily transition into unified commerce. These integrations and APIs help enable interoperability and data integration.
Restaurant Success Cases For Unified Commerce
In the food and beverage service technology industry, the ultimate focus is typically on improving the hospitality experience and putting the guest at the center of the universe.
For example, IHOP is transforming its technology to put more focus on the guest experience through initiatives like its loyalty program, known as the International Bank of Pancakes. The company is also rolling out other technologies that directly affect the guest experience, including providing better WiFi, allowing multiple payment options, adopting a new point of sale platform, launching a food ordering app and updating the IHOP website. These steps in its tech transformation makes 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 refined its commerce models during the pandemic. It began offering online ordering, third-party delivery, curbside, drive-thru and catering as ways to continue serving guests. The technology stack the company adopted across its 85 locations also includes a loyalty and marketing system, point of sale, payments and back office.
Adopting Unified Commerce Keeps Businesses On Trend
This strategy is the necessary adaptation that can help the hospitality industry stay relevant. For example, businesses everywhere are considering the advancement—and customers’ quick adoption—of online, app-based and third-party ordering, as well as the necessity of integrating these innovations with point of sale systems.
Notably, merchants that approached this challenge with tech stacks that were hastily cobbled together failed to truly reinvent their infrastuctures. They misunderstood how unified commerce can simplify and integrate systems and data sets.
Transformation in the restaurant space continues to be fast-paced. The operators and brands that address this by adopting foundational unified commerce principles will be best positioned for the competition and other unforeseen challenges ahead.
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