Whether your brand is already off and running with mobile ordering, or you’re still figuring out how to make it work, technologies such as NFC, QR codes, Bluetooth Smart, Wi-Fi, geo-fencing and in-app check-ins are here to stay. And they have the potential to transform both the brand and its operations.

Combined, these technologies and techniques make up a class called “mobile presence technologies,” which can communicate a customer’s proximity to a restaurant location.

This year, we will undoubtedly see brands adopting automatic or user-prompted technologies to signal to communicate wirelessly, from the customer to the kitchen. With technologies such as Bluetooth Smart, Wi-Fi and geo-fencing, a restaurant’s branded mobile app can trigger an order automatically when the customer crosses a predefined perimeter or physically arrives on-site. Sound a little too sci-fi? It’s not. Just as map and navigation systems can tell customers how to get to your location, the technology can be used to geo-fence, establishing a technological perimeter around your location. (read more…)

The news this week of confirmed cases of H5N2 Avian Flu on turkey farms in Missouri and Arkansas put the issues of food safety and traceability in the spotlight once again. It’s a topic that seems to stay in the headlines quite a bit, from tales of foodborne illness outbreaks to trend stories about millennials hungry for information about where their food comes from to research tying future food safety to climate change.

Edible Software has been addressing the issues since it launched 35 years ago, growing with the food industry’s need and changing along with the technological innovation, economic factors and consumer demands that have put much more on the wholesaler’s plate.

The company’s core customers are food wholesalers, businesses that act as middlemen between the producers and the retailers, restaurants and foodservice companies that feed the consumer. Increasingly, though, wholesalers’ roles are growing, with added services that in turn change what they need in their ERP systems, said Edible Software Executive Vice President Charles Butler. (read more…)

Whether you’re working in the food retail, restaurant or consumer packaged goods industry, customization and personalization are likely terms you’ve heard before. In fact, personalization has become a hot topic across many industries, and to achieve personalization, companies must first think about targeting different consumer segments.

For retailers, restaurants and manufacturers to really achieve consumer segmentation, it’s all about building data into “segments of one,” according to Jed Alpert, vice president of marketing for 1010data. To do this, companies need to collect as much data as possible, which is becoming easier thanks to today’s technology. Once that data is captured, it can be used to define customers as individual segments.

“Build an individual model, an individual forecast for every single one of your customers,” Alpert said. “All of that data can be used to build a complete profile of that person, and ultimately get down to that segment of one.”

Defining consumers in this way and delivering one-to-one marketing not only gives companies insights into how consumers are going to interact with their own businesses, but it can also help them understand how consumers interact with competitors and businesses outside their industry, according to Alpert. (read more…)

This post is sponsored by TraceGains.

Karen Klansek has an expression she likes to use when it comes to manpower versus automation in her role as manager of supply chain quality assurance at Pinnacle Foods: “For so long as we require humans to do the work, we will manage humanity.”

Despite the efficiencies that automation and technology bring, Klansek says she never loses sight of the fact that human nature plays an important role in her behind-the-scenes world. Strong relationships with others, both inside and outside the company, create constructive business solutions, she says.

Klansek works in the dynamic, multifaceted world of food safety and quality assurance, where brand reputations, corporate success — and sometimes human health — hang in the balance. Specifically, she focuses on the food safety and quality of the ingredients Pinnacle sources from its suppliers.

Parsippany, N.J.-based Pinnacle Foods is the manufacturer of a growing array of brands, including Duncan Hines, Aunt Jemima and Birds Eye. (read more…)

On one of too-many-to-count recent cross country flights, I had the pleasure of reading entrepreneur/venture capitalist Peter Thiel’s great new book “Zero to One“. Among many topics of interest, I found his discussion of “path dependence” interesting and important for the restaurant industry to consider. Path dependence refers to the economic concept that our set of decisions in current time may be constrained by the decisions that we’ve made in the past. In other words, we’re following a pre-determined path that makes it impossible or at least difficult to take the proverbial less-beaten path. In reading Thiel’s discussion of path dependence, I thought about the problem of path dependence in the restaurant industry.

The decisions facing restaurant executives today are limited by decisions of the past. Take the area in which my company Olo.com works the most: technology. I’ve yet to meet a restaurant IT executive who is thrilled with the technology landscape that he/she has inherited from his/her predecessor. (read more…)