Reviewing the Modern QSR Technology Stack
The oneVIEW Product Team
May 28, 2021
It’s taken a bit longer for the quick-service restaurant (QSR) industry to catch up when it comes to adopting cutting-edge technology. But several factors are pushing QSR owners and operators to step back and take a complete look at the technology they use to run an efficient business.
Consumer preferences account for a large part of that push alongside the continued rapid pace of technology growth. There’s a lot riding on the guest experience with more choices than ever before on where they can choose to spend their money. At the same time, delivery and takeout are having their own boom as we make our way through the pandemic economy.
Restaurant management software helps owners and operators run their business more efficiently, with both front-of-house and back-of-house capabilities. And to keep pace with guest preferences, adopting modern technology is a must. But where to begin?
This post explores what a modern QSR technology stack looks like and what QSR owners’ and operators’ expectations should be when investing in these new technologies.
Let’s start with the front of the house where point-of-sale (POS) technology has had quite the evolution. The first cash register was invented in 1879. Then, more than 100 years later the first POS software was created. Since that time, the pace of innovation has only accelerated. As a central hub for the restaurant, POS systems handle orders, track payments, and cash flow, manage inventory, serves as employee timekeeping, and provides reporting.
Modern point-of-sale technology, like touchscreen terminals, serve as a key component to a consumer’s experience. Of course, much of the evolution has been driven by consumer demand for a quick, efficient, engaging, and accurate experience.
At the same time, owners and operators know that it serves a dual purpose. Not only does it improve hospitality, but it also means that the order-taking process is simplified and streamlined. When you can place more orders faster, you can generate more revenue. A true win-win.
What are current quick-service POS capabilities?
Today’s modern POS system allows staff to work more efficiently, processing transactions faster through a touchscreen. Typically, they also have guest-facing screens. Guests can see their order as it’s being entered with the benefit being they can verify accuracy as they follow along. Plus, it makes it easy for them to quickly pay and apply tips.
Speaking of payment, best-in-class POS systems can process credit card and mobile payments via a card reader. And direct integrations mean that data is accurately passed back and forth. But integrations are not only limited to the hardware at the front of the house. The best quick-service POS systems will integrate with software like accounting, reporting, scheduling, and online ordering.
What should QSR operators expect from their POS systems?
- Durability & Reliability. First and foremost, POS systems should have durable hardware that is built to last and withstand high-volume traffic. Plus, it needs to be reliable. That may seem obvious, but the last thing an owner or operator wants is for the system to go down during peak business hours.
- Intuitive, easy-to-use interface. Touchscreen terminals should have an intuitive, easy-to-use interface. They should mimic the flow of cashier-customer conversation so that staff can deliver the best experience with speed and new hires can onboard and train faster.
- Online ordering and delivery integration. The trend is growing around online ordering so it’s important that modern POS systems streamline this process, so your staff isn’t spending time manually typing in orders. Plus, accepting orders directly through POS means no lost or inaccurate orders.
- Multilocation management. Many owners and operators run multiple locations. Being able to access information around inventory, traffic flow, and staff management means insight into opportunities.
- Loyalty or rewards. The best customers are the ones that keep coming back. With built-in loyalty programs, owners and operators can reward those customers, while letting them know they are valued.
- Security. Last, but certainly not least is security. Typically running on cloud-based software, it’s vital that a modern POS system has the highest security standards in place to protect sensitive data and include access controls.
Speeding up operations means better customer service. By being able to quickly integrate data, owners, operators, and managers can make better business decisions.
Back-of-House Restaurant Systems
Back-of-house technology has done more of a 180-degree turn, moving from paper tickets to the much more modern kitchen display system (KDS). A KDS is a centralized digital ordering system, showing staff cooks orders that are in the queue, how long they’ve been there, and when they’ve been fulfilled.
Paper tickets can cause disorganization. So, as one might guess, a KDS all but eliminates miscommunication between the two houses. Instead of worrying about tickets being placed out of order, lost tickets, or grease smudges, employees can focus solely on delivering food. Plus, it’s digital meaning there’s no adding cost of ticket paper.
Printed tickets can also cause inefficiency. There may be multiple individuals involved in the making of one item, depending on the type of restaurant. In other scenarios, paper tickets may be passed down the line to fulfill other aspects of the order. This is highly inefficient, of course. These modern, digital screens improve workflows so multiple stations can view the same order at the same time. That’s streamlined operations at its finest.
What are the current capabilities of back-of-house restaurant systems?
Mounted to the wall, kitchen display systems receive POS orders in real-time. Even better, a good KDS will route orders to the right prep stations. And in today’s world, there are multiple ways to receive an order whether that’s through POS, delivery apps, or more. With a sophisticated KDS, orders can be sent to and fulfilled from the kitchen without requiring a staff member to manually re-enter the order into the POS system.
KDS screens also provide insight into operations, helping operators, owners, and restaurant managers better understand data like the average time it takes kitchen staff to fulfill a ticket or whether ticket times change by day of the week and time of day.
Finally, some KDS will send a notification when orders are up in a quick-service restaurant. In this always-on world, that can drive a better customer experience.
What should QSR operators expect from their BOH systems?
- Accuracy & Efficiency. A KDS has the power to transform back-of-house operations and communication with front-of-house. Order allocations are clearly presented to kitchen staff and status is displayed up to the minute.
- Flexibility. Not every kitchen is the same. QSR operators or owners should expect flexibility in how orders are displayed so they can fit their unique kitchen setup.
- Reporting. Speeding up operations means better customer service. By being able to gather kitchen data, owners, operators, and managers can make better business decisions like staffing appropriately for rush hours or general capacity to deliver on in-house and off-premises dining orders.
Common Systems Outside of POS & BOH in the QSR Technology Stack
Restaurant Security Systems
No discussion around a modern QSR technology stack would be complete without the mention of restaurant security systems, specifically video surveillance. Many QSR owners and operators are likely already using some level of video surveillance. It’s key for many aspects of the business from monitoring store cleanliness to keeping employees safe in their work environment and identifying theft and fraud.
But video surveillance has come a long way. It’s no longer simply a piece of hardware mounted to the ceiling. Managed video solutions are the modern take on surveillance. How are they different?
Antiquated systems were likely an on-premise solution requiring owners and operators to review video onsite. Not only that, but operators also wouldn’t be able to easily access the time stamp in question. Rather, they would have to move through all the footage to get to a specific moment. On the other hand, modern managed video is cloud-based meaning it can be accessed from anywhere with any web-ready device. They include features like motion search, advanced filtering, live and recorded video, and audio streams, and clip, save and share functionality.
More importantly, best-in-class solutions directly integrate with POS systems, making it easier to review video footage alongside transaction data.
QSR operators should expect their intelligent video solutions to incorporate tools like HD video, analytics, and auditing services.
Voice of Customer
We’re in the age of the consumer. Customer experience matters with high expectations for service, quality, and ease. That’s a known fact. At the same time, there’s a not so little secret. And that’s loyal customers will return more often, spend more time (and money) when they visit, and recommend to others.
In the past, a brand may have used something like feedback cards or a mystery shopper to better understand the customer experience. But that often doesn’t translate into the depth of knowledge QSRs need to identify and resolve the real-time issues impacting them.
Modern QSRs have turned to voice of the customer technology (aka VoC, Customer Experience, or CX), integrating multiple customer feedback sources to create a holistic view of the customer experience. This type of technology follows customers through their interactions—including to-go orders, kiosk, and app interactions, and traditional dine-in visits—gathering insights around labor, timer, and operational data. It also includes methods like inviting guests to provide feedback via an online survey typically promoted with a URL on the customer’s purchase receipt.
With all the data collected, VoC technology pulls it together in an easy-to-digest dashboard reporting, so owners, operations, and managers have critical feedback around the multitude of factors contributing to customer experience.
With VoC technology, integration with other systems like POS and other relevant technology is critical to connecting customer feedback and data across multiple channels for a comprehensive view of the customer.
Tying the QSR Technology Stack Together
Building the modern technology stack for QSRs is not easy. But it is vital to meeting consumer expectations and growing revenue. With the combination of these technologies, it’s possible to do just that. More technology equals more data. How do you get all this critical data working for you?
There’s an easier way with oneVIEW, combining point-sale, back-of-house, and third-party data into a single application so you can easily monitor business performance, control costs, and empower smarter operational decisions.
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