How to grow your restaurant sales with upgraded POS whilst minimising cost and risk
Mobile apps, self-service kiosks, omnichannel solutions, loyalty systems, mobile order ahead, voice ordering, AI-powered upselling - these and many more technology-intensive features are becoming the standard of the restaurant, hospitality and retail industries.
No matter which solution from the ones listed above are your priorities - the implementation of new features will greatly influence (and be influenced) by the POS system that your company uses.
What is a POS system?
It is the software that replaced notepads and pencils, along with other traditional tools of a waiter, bartender or shop assistant. It allows staff to collect orders and pass them to the kitchen and then collect payment through cash or credit card. Integrated with a company’s ERP and financial systems, it is the backbone of that company, allowing it to streamline and optimise its business processes
There are generally two types of POS systems
run on closed networks
run on web-based services
Legacy POS such as Oracle Micros, NCR Aloha, Lighthouse or Heartland are still at the heart of many brick-and mortar food and retail companies. They run on closed networks, and the data is stored on local servers, that only periodically (i.e. once a day) synchronize with headquarters. Legacy POS systems are still doing their job (at least with regards to their core functionalities), but they are expensive to maintain, difficult to upgrade and only run on dedicated - and costly - hardware. Additionally, the digital transformation is forcing companies to implement completely new features, that are usually not supported by the POS and requires upgrading - Which as previously said is relatively difficult and expensive.
Cloud POS is the opposite to legacy POS. It is web-based and runs on a cloud service. All the data is stored online. The application is not installed separately on every piece of hardware.
All devices such as the cash desk, handheld devices for collecting orders or self-service kiosks only run web-based interfaces of the cloud application. This architecture makes the cloud application more flexible, much easier to upgrade and also much safer than its legacy cousins.
With that in mind, a lot of restaurants and other HoReCa companies have a choice:
Dump the entire legacy system, or gradually enhance their existing software?
In other words: begin the transition to a brand-new cloud-based POS with all the inevitable disruption, turmoil and cost, or gradually enhance the existing software by a series of plug-ins and integrations to ensure it covers all the necessary new functions until they are ready for the full transition.
We at 3e Software House believe there’s no “one size fits all” solution - different companies can and usually should use tailor-made applications that is best suited to their company culture, long-time strategy and the technical stack they already use.
It is not always necessary to drop all of your existing solutions and start from scratch. There are usually several ways of reengineering the existing application and upgrading it with the most necessary new features, whilst making the gradual background transition to a brand new system.
We highly recommend that you start your implementation with an analysis of your needs and available assets. That’s where we come in to help you make the right decision and assist with the implementation.
I know enough and I prefer to talk about it
Let’s start from the beginning. Core digital restaurant features, that allow the companies to be competitive in the second decade of 21-st century:
Online ordering - 30 percent rise in take-out revenue
Did you know that 60 percent of consumers have ordered food online in the last six months? No kidding. Perhaps online (and of course mobile-friendly) ordering is a standard feature, but it is still unavailable in many restaurant brands that rely solely on telephone ordering. As we enter the third decade of 21-st century we have to emphasise that: restaurants that do not support online ordering are losing business to their competitors. With more and more customers seeking the ease of take-out–and especially delivery, restaurants must look to satisfy those cravings without hurting their dine-in business. Having your own ordering interface allows you to instantly convert the viewers that find you on Google or Facebook into customers, become (at least partially) independent from the third-party ordering platforms and gather a lot of data about your customers.
Online ordering and mobile applications are default features in cloud POS. They aren’t built in into the legacy solutions, but they still can be integrated via API - you can read more about it in our Pizza Hut case study.
Self-service kiosks - 20 percent order increase
Self-service kiosks are an instant boost to a restaurant’s business. They make service faster by 44 percent, they increase the worth of an average order by 20-30 percent. Not enough? Customers using kiosks better understand the menu, order more side dishes, desserts and beverages and leave the restaurant significantly happier than the others. Yes, kiosks increase customer satisfaction, especially with regards to Gen-Z customers who openly admit that they do not like to talk to cashiers - interacting with a touchscreen is more natural for them.
Self-service kiosks can be integrated into your POS in numerous ways. If you choose a cloud solution - they are a built-in feature. If you use a legacy one, they can be plugged-in via API and integrated with the on-premises server, or set up as a parallel cloud service. They can even be installed as a standalone devices - read more about our solutions and our KFC case study.
Mobile order ahead - 70 percent growth y/y
Mobile order ahead (aka “click and collect”, aka ”skip the line”) is a next big thing (and big business) for any restaurant. The popularity of this way of ordering has risen at the pace of 70% a year. Already 60% of mobile orders are Mobile Order-Aheads. This version of service appeals to the group of time-strapped customers, who are interested in reducing the duration of their restaurant visit even further. They can place an order sitting in their office and then quickly jump-in, collect the meal and return, or they can place an order whilst sitting on the bus a few stops ahead of the restaurant. This group of customers is quickly growing in number, prompting restaurant chains to redesign their outlets and expand their collection points - and invest in mobile order ahead interfaces.
Mobile order ahead as a part of mobile solutions is integrated into cloud POS. Like other mobile solutions it can also be enabled for companies using legacy POS as a separate application integrated via API with core company systems - you can find more details in our AmRest case study.
Voice ordering - mobile solutions for the drivers and runners
Voice ordering is a natural enhancement of the previous feature. It is extremely convenient when you use a phone with a headset and even more so, when it is a built-in car function. Yes, in the United States many new rides are coming with voice food ordering already available on board. One touch at the car’s touchscreen, the user dictates the order, and that’s it. The car sends the order to the restaurant that’s on your way and within driving distance to allow you pick the order once it’s ready.
Loyalty system - repeat visits and increased satisfaction
Before the advent of mobile programs, most restaurants used punch or stamp cards, which required their patrons to have something physical on them at all times. Participation in these programs, especially since they have gone online and mobile, has risen. Compared to other marketing strategies, a mobile loyalty program is fairly low maintenance and low cost. Unlike television and online media campaigns, the message sent to customers is much more pointed and relevant, making customers more likely to use them, for example, coupons. The investment is smaller, and, yes, the audience is smaller, but the audience is also ready and willing to receive the message.
The loyalty system as the above mentioned function is part of a cloud service. Nonetheless it can act as a standalone application. The POS system contacts the loyalty module during the transaction. When the customer has an activated account it accepts the data and translates it into bonus points. Communication in the opposite direction takes place when customer claims the already earned bonuses. Then the POS system consults the loyalty app and modifies the customer’s shopping basket accordingly - reducing the price or adding some freebies to it. Making loyalty system integration with a legacy POS is both a feasible and reasonable solution. Please refer to our implementations completed for Starbucks and Costa Coffee.
Omnichannel - customer friendly wrap-up for all features
Multichannel and omnichannel are not a specific service. The concept that has obsessed retailers, restaurants and hospitality means enabling multiple ways for customers to place their order, receive it and pay for, while retaining a consistent experience. Omnichannel is considered a higher quality solution, offering more channels (i.e. social media and chat) and better unification of the experience. That means the same menu, the same special offers, prices, bundles and saved orders as well as similar UX and graphic layout, no matter if your customer is using a web, mobile or kiosk interface - or talking to the cashier. An Multi/Omnichannel approach is especially important in relation to loyalty systems. Only an omnichannel approach allows customers to claim their bonus points, no matter which channel offline, telephone, web or mobile they prefer.
A built-in Omnichannel strategy is one of the biggest advantages of cloud software. All the channels are merely different interfaces of a cloud-based app and all the features are by default available via different interfaces. Implementation of the omnichannel or multichannel approach based on legacy POS is fully feasible, but more complicated and costly - it actually demands an implementation and integration of all channels. Read more about our loyalty system integration with a legacy POS for Costa Coffee. The other way to achieve this is to set up a cloud service parallel to the legacy POS and let it take over all the user interfaces outside the premises.
The list of available digital restaurant solutions does not end there. To build a full customer-friendly environment you should consider such features as:
- digital signage solution for attractive graphic menu presentation
- food delivery management and monitoring
- online payments and fiscalisation
- integration with third-party ordering platforms
- integration with call center applications, including instant caller identification
- effective upsell functions, especially those based on AI
- dynamic, real time reporting with remote access
- integration with marketing automation tools allows a company to perform customer segmentation and activation through precisely targeted campaigns
Understandably, many other cloud POS manufacturers like Toast, Square POS, EZ-Chow, Erply or Poster are trying to convince their potential clients, that the best way to leverage all the benefits of modern technology is to nuke the old tech without any sentiment and start from scratch, installing cloud POS.
This is exactly what we recommend when you start a new restaurant business. Implementation of an up to date, cloud-based POS can be a rather obvious decision. Cloud POS usually
- has integrated all the elements of the digital restaurant;
- gives you a single point of management access;
- it’s more flexible. Cloud software can be continually developed and updated;
- is usually much cheaper;
If you find these advantages compelling - just contact us and le'ts start the implementation of your cloud-based POS right now.
But is it necessarily worth it, when you have a lot of stores and an expensive POS system already up and running? Perhaps, instead of disrupting all your establisthed and tested processes you should actually enhance your existing POS system with a cloud-like web integration centre and gradually enable all the new functions you need, one feature at a time.
By choosing this approach you can take advantage of all the cloud-based POS features without ripping out and replacing the old infrastructure. This solution
- instantly empowers your business instead of disrupting it
- takes on the most crucial tasks like online and mobile ordering,payment, self-service kiosks, call center integration, third party ordering, delivery management and much more
- is ready to use with all its core elements and the API interfaces are easily adjusted to plug in into your organisation’s network
- is a huge step towards a full transition to a cloud solution, and can power your business for years until you are ready to embark on the final transition.