By Nancy Weingartner Monroe
We caught up with Michael Wior, CEO of Omnivore Tech in Hayward, California, at the National Restaurant Show in Chicago not that long ago, and asked him what he sees as the future of restaurant technology. Since his company’s software integrates all the different technologies, apps and bells and whistles for restaurants, we figured he’d have something worth quoting. And we were right.
It’s all about what customers are demanding, he says, which right now is to pay with their phone.
Restaurant employees, on the other hand, are demanding “instant tech apps,” such as payday loan, where their employer can upload their day’s pay as soon as they clock out. Wages are loaded on a prepaid credit card. It’s a great employee retention tool, he says.
Good news for restaurants is that he’s seeing a new revenue stream in addition to delivery. Thanks to restaurants, “manufacturers finally have a meaningful channel to reach out to customers,” he says. Amazon already uses the shopping patterns of consumers to make sales suggestions. “Restaurants are a great place to convert customers to certain products,” he points out. “It’s no different than Amazon figuring out that I need an umbrella.”
For instance, a beer company already is working with a reservation website to coordinate when customers are dining so they can send them a coupon for a free beer. “If you start drinking from a coupon, you’re likely to continue drinking” that same beer, Wior says. And yes, “there’s a thin line between meaningful and creepy.” But think of all the stats on buying choices restaurants have on customers.
Delivery presents interesting challenges, he adds. Although it’s convenient, restaurants may not want the hostess to be the one dealing with delivery orders. Instead, off-site orders can be integrated into the POS system to go directly to the kitchen, which saves time and ups the chances of getting the order right. “When you’re at home and you get the wrong order, it’s not the same as being in the restaurant,” he says. There’s no quick trip back to the kitchen.
And if you screw up someone’s delivery, even a free beer coupon may not be enough to win that customer back.