Technology’s impact on your summer ice cream parlor6 minutes
While consumers may spend their summer seeking exotic ice cream flavors—Lobster, Cheetos and Spruce Tip are whipped up, ready for the adventurous eater—savvy businesses are bringing on new technologies to help figure out things like what new flavors will sell.
Just south of Cincinnati, across the Kentucky border, vegan and vegetarian ice cream and sandwich shop Piper’s Cafe is leveraging big data to keep up with its customers: “We are growing and we can't remember all of our customers by name and face any longer. I'm looking forward to seeing what patterns my new regular guests fall into and adapting," says co-owner Chip Atkins in a report from The Week. Cloud and mobile technology mean that ice cream shops and other small restaurants can take advantage of the kind of big data insights that large restaurant owners have been using to lower costs and boost operational efficiencies.
How the restaurant industry is reading tech disruptions
Not all restaurant innovations come in the form of new flavors or food items. Some important breakthroughs arise as solutions to common problems plaguing restaurateurs—from high labor costs to declining traffic. How to use breakthroughs such as big data and other disruptive technologies dominated our conversations at the 2018 National Restaurant Association trade show.
In a recent research study conducted by Panasonic, nearly four out of five respondents stated they believed competitors in their own industry will pull ahead if they do not adopt or invest in disruptive technology. Seven in ten said they felt companies outside their industry could disrupt them.
And these ideas were more pronounced in the food service, hospitality and retail industries. These sectors are more likely than others to say disruptive technologies are critical to the future success of their companies.
Across all industries, three of the top five adopted disruptive technologies are cloud, IoT and robotics. Each of these technologies plays a role in the connected kitchen, where appliances all sync to the cloud, communicate over a network, can be managed remotely and even using predictive analytics. Spyce, a new restaurant in Boston, is built around a robotic kitchen, and relies on cloud and IoT. The robotic kitchen “wirelessly collects multiple orders from a bank of self-service menu kiosks, displays the names of the guests whose orders are being prepared, pipes the various ingredients from refrigerated hoppers into a wok to be cooked and tossed, and dumps the hot meal into a compostable bowl waiting on the counter below,” according to a review in Salon.
Labor is one of the costliest elements of running a restaurant and can eat up as much as 40 percent of a restaurant’s gross revenue, according to estimates. Software that has the capacity to collect and analyze data will the connecting element of automated processes and are already making it possible for labor intensive industries across the board to run more efficiently. MaryPat Sullivan, chief nursing officer at Overlook Medical Center in Summit, New Jersey, told Healthcare IT News earlier this year that the hospital network was able to save $70 million on operational costs by successfully employing predictive analytics. Software programs such as Panasonic’s Clearview platform have helped franchise owners of some of the largest QSR chains grow at a faster rate than their corporate-owned counterparts that still operate on legacy software. These functionalities integrated with the automation capabilities of PanaCIM are already changing the landscape of kitchen and back office interoperability.
Last month, we wrote about how the hospitality and retail industry are turning to artificial intelligence to create an increasingly nuanced personal experience for their customers. Of all the industries polled in our research, 90 percent say personalization is important to the future success of their company. Furthermore, they believe that the first step is to simplify the customer experience. But there is also a divide about what personalizing the customer experience entails. According to 40 percent of respondents, “personalizing” means making it simpler for customers to engage. Only 20 percent interpret this as “being able to customize services and offerings” by using customer data analytics to predict and impact purchase behavior.
Personalization in ordering has contributed to the widespread interest and adoption of kiosks in the restaurant industry. McDonalds see kiosks as part its digital growth accelerator that will expand choices for how customers order, pay and are served, according to its latest annual report. Similarly, Subway also announced it was planning to introduce kiosks. In Texas, a number of Dairy Queen restaurants are already reaping benefits of self-service kiosks.
Brands that have been early adopters of kiosks have reported that the average check size is up to 30 percent higher than at the counter. These kiosks don’t just allow the restaurant to continually upsell through the entire ordering process, but customers are also given the opportunity to fully customize their order, which leads to an increasingly personalized experience.