The power and future of POS: D.C. Restaurant Tech Summit

At the CohnReznick Restaurant Technology Summit in Washington, D.C. in October, technology heads and restaurant operators shared insights into how point-of-sale (POS) technology is improving restaurant operations. The POS is essential, but so, too, are the data tools around it, commented Clyde’s Christian Guidi. He said data tools like those from software firm Ctuit help consolidate data so restaurant operators can understand information from their locations. “It helps with literacy” on the data, he says. Clyde’s Restaurant Group has, over time, collected disparate POS systems and moving to one POS system is a desirable next step.

In many restaurants, customers won’t be interacting with POS terminals or cashiers; instead, they will be purchasing food and beverages using self-payment tablets or kiosks that are integrated with the POS.Kiosks and self-order technology is growing at a rapid pace. These devices will reach $30.8B by 2024, growing at a 10.9 percent combined annual growth rate, according to mobile-product agency Fuzz and Fast Casual magazine.

Honeygrow’s Justin Rosenberg said he sees the kiosks as simply a way to process orders quickly, an understatement by most accounts. The Philadelphia-based chain makes good use of self-ordering technology, offering in-store kiosks that allow customers to customize their salads and stir-fry orders—two popular choices on their menu. Honeygrow is also making its debut in Suburban Maryland at Montrose Crossing Shopping Center in Rockville, opening December 8, according to Store Reporter. This will be Honeygrow’s third D.C.-area restaurant.

The impact of the modern POS system on operations

Self-ordering technology is not a way to save on labor, Rosenberg says, as Honeygrow also deploys brand ambassadors (greeters) to help customers input their orders and speed throughput.

One of the biggest takeaways from the CohnReznick summit was that each technology leader has a unique perspective on systems helping restaurants improve operations. Heartland’s POS systems, for example, are not being integrated into one system, as many would expect. Heartland management is content to run several POS platforms and they are also part of an open architecture, says Chris Sebes. The Xenial system is such a product, and is part of its latest product offerings.

From an operational perspective, restaurant POS systems can add a lot of value to the equation, insists Guidi of Clyde’s. Real-time data and categorization of menu items help with server motivation, performance ranking and reporting. Clyde’s Restaurant Group taps these benefits to rank server performance and also move the lowest performers up to an acceptable average. From a Human Resources angle, the servers ranked the lowest can be evaluated and sub-par results can be addressed more readily.

Honeygrow is currently using a third-party delivery provider, but that option may not be sustainable over the long run. Delivery service can be expensive “and take a good chunk of change,” says Rosenberg. It’s an aspect of operations that ideally will be brought inside the four walls of the restaurant. To address concerns, Heartland is addressing functionality for managing delivery orders for its customers. No more third party, says
Heartland’s Sebes.

The future of the restaurant POS

Cloud-based systems are still not at 10 percent penetration, notes Paul Rubin from Partech, Inc. Cobalt is still a very prevalent coding language for point-of-sale systems, and it will take some time to move away from older legacy systems. Regardless, advances in other areas are fast-rising.

Machine learning is something that will be changing the way we interact with the POS, says Rubin. It’s leading to a lot of progress. Holograms may also be something not too far off. Future iterations of next-gen POS may come in the form of speech-oriented solutions. An example would be a self-ordering device or kiosk responding to voice commands in a way that is natural, and responding to customers in a much more fluid manner. A hologram could greet customers as they enter a quick-serve restaurant and offer to
take their orders.

The revolution in customer-facing elements of transaction will be totally transformed in the near future. Chains like Honeygrow are tapping self-ordering tools to make the process of ordering more efficient and customized, while keeping customer service reps in the mix to provide the personalized touch. Restaurants that embrace the future now stand to gain from an established learning curve as the technology evolves.

This article was originally published in Eatery Pulse News. Read more stories like this one in our magazine.eaterypulse.tv.

Photo credit: CohnReznick Hospitality Group