If there’s one thing that’s constant in today’s quick service and the fast-casual world, it’s change. And there are no signs of change slowing anytime soon. In the Rise, Fall & Rebirth of Restaurant POS we explore the immense amount of radical change operators have dealt with in the past decade—from the advent of cloud POS to channel proliferation and third-party delivery. And all this change, led by more digital savvy and demanding guests, has created systems overload, fragmentation, and revenue challenges. It’s harder than ever for operators to control and manage the guest experience.
To help restaurant chain operators prepare for the next wave of change, we pinpointed 6 Things Every Operator Needs to Know to position themselves, and their business, for success. The first cold hard fact operators must embrace is that restaurant POS has gone virtual—today restaurant POS is a virtual system and term, not just a device on the counter. Now, obviously ordering is more virtual than ever, but the point is (no pun intended) that the “Point” in Point of Sale is no longer a single point. It has multiplied to hundreds and thousands of “points” and most of those points are no longer in the physical store; they are right in your guest’s hands!
Restaurant POS Today Often Resides in the Grip of Your Guest’s Palm
With guests craving 24x7 access to your food and menus, they now have more control over, and transparency into, the order process and your business operations. And consumer forgiveness of your technology flaws is waning, with most guests expecting Amazon or Netflix-like experiences from your brand.
Restaurant POS is no Longer Just a Device, It’s the Foundation for Guest Interactions
Restaurant POS has significantly evolved since it went from mechanical to electronic in the 70s. Starting with the microprocessor and CPU, to touch screens and operating systems, and then... the internet. Today's technology advancements provide the ability to manage data in much better ways, using the cloud and micro-services smartly.
Quick service and fast-casual restaurant chains now must be able to quickly process orders from virtually anywhere, wherever the guest wants to place them, including through:
- Your website
- Mobile apps
- Third-party delivery sites (which can be up to 4 different channels)
- Catering sites
- Self-order kiosks
- Voice ordering (coming soon!)
With guests having more direct digital access to your food, the restaurant POS may be the only conduit through which they will communicate with your brand, sometimes without ever seeing or talking to one of your employees.
So the key point is … your POS must be able to quickly, accurately, and consistently process orders from anywhere, via any channel or device—and seamlessly integrate with all those channels and systems—while ensuring exceptional brand and food experiences for the guest (yes and it must be fast, fresh, and tasty). Wow, talk about a tall order!
When Things Went Virtual, Chaos Ensued (and the Guest Experience Suffered)
Indeed it has become a tall order to deliver exceptional experiences in a virtual world, with so many channels and systems in the middle of the order process. While many of us eagerly embraced all the new channels for doing business and acquiring goods (aka, tasty food), chaos ensued for multi-unit operators. And the guest experience has been broken ever since. Here’s what really happened for many quick service and fast-casual restaurants:
- Menu Management Mayhem: Channel proliferation created separate menu systems for each channel and those became very hard to integrate, manage, and maintain. The result? Management nightmares, inefficiencies, and lack of consistently branded (and accurate) menus across locations. Some big brands are now managing hundreds of menu systems across a dozen or more different POS systems. Someone call 911!
- Technology Overload & Fragmentation: As a result of multiple channels and menus, many operators found themselves mired in technology and running siloed business operations within the same brand. Inefficiency and complexity increased and it’s hard to say who suffered more deeply: the operators or the guests. Both are struggling to achieve smoother service and experiences.
- Fragile Integrations: Open APIs had the promise of integrating all the disparate systems, but with each channel came new APIs. As the number of menu systems increased, so did the number of APIs required. And more APIs means more patchwork processes to get them in sync and a higher risk of broken connections.
The disjointed nature of POS has reached feverish heights. At Qu, we’re on a mission to solve the experience crisis by deploying a truly unified and dynamic POS.
Going Beyond Fragmented Restaurant POS to Unified Experiences
Operators and partners need to go beyond the current fragmented state of POS by demanding and expecting more from their platform. Going beyond means being bold and imploring your POS vendor to solve for your fragmentation and inefficiencies by seamlessly tying together all the disparate order channels, while serving up a branded menu and guest experiences.
That includes directly integrating with third-party delivery partners and reducing the amount of additional technology (and vendors) needed to achieve consistently branded and delicious food experiences. And most importantly, it means your ability to drive healthy bottom lines again.
Solving the Omni-Channel POS Crisis with Dynamic Unified Restaurant POS
The truth is, very few restaurant POS companies provide a dynamic unified POS platform that delivers a consistent guest experience across all channels. The ones that do, still struggle with challenges at the architecture level because they were not built to intentionally handle multiple order channels, thus integrations end up being fragile, expensive, and time-consuming.
When looking for a truly dynamic, virtual, and unified restaurant chain POS to address the omni-channel experience crisis, prioritize these five criteria above all else:
- A POS that delivers a single menu management platform, so you can easily manage and dynamically update one menu (instead of hundreds!) for all your brands and locations.
- Truly open and seamless integrations with third-party partners, unified through one common API and modern codebase.
- Freedom to select best in class partners for payment processing and other core functions.
- Data-centric capabilities that unify data across systems and channels, to provide strong analytics and insights.
- A single POS vendor that can integrate your data and brand experience across channels and systems.
Don’t settle for less! Your POS has gone virtual and it’s literally everywhere your guests are. Instead of wasting valuable time and resources patching together disconnected channels and systems, it’s time to find a unified solution that puts you back in control of your business, menu, and brand experience— turning your guests into passionate advocates, not disappointed diners.
This blog post is part of a 6-part series specifically written for enterprise-level restaurant operators, “6 Things Every Operator Should Know” to position themselves and their businesses for success. Our posts so far include:
- POS is now a Virtual Term and System (you're reading it!!)
- You Can No Longer Sanely Manage Multiple Menu Systems
- Restaurant POS Systems Need One Common Core
- It’s All About the Data