Websites and technology are pretty much ubiquitous these days, no matter what industry you work in, but there are challenges that can come with incorporating technology into an existing business model, especially in more traditional industries like food retail and restaurants.

As consumers become more connected via smartphones and other gadgets and technology like mobile payment systems take root across industries, it is vital that retailers and restaurants keep pace with technology and keep customers engaged. And sometimes that means facing the challenges that come with such technology head-on and overcoming them.

Mobile payments is an arena in which retailers and restaurants are seeing a lot of change right now, especially with the introduction and increasing adoption of Apple Pay. High-profile chains and smaller merchants alike are incorporating Apple Pay into their point-of-sale systems, just as customers are starting to incorporate paying without cash or a card into their daily routines. (read more…)

A dear friend and avid scuba diver recently said to me, “If you never explore the ocean, you will only ever see half of the world.”

Above water, enjoying the same kind of pure oxygen I’ve been breathing my entire life, is a more comforting environment by nature. Unfamiliar places are the ones we tend to fear. Yes, you’re still reading a restaurant column. I’ll come back to this.

Speaking of oceans, Olo Founder & CEO Noah Glass turned the ICR XChange’s Mediterranean Ballroom blue during a part of his presentation showing a blue pie chart at 75%. It represented the three quarters of all restaurant purchases that are consumed outside of the restaurant property itself according to Hudson Riehle, SVP of the National Restaurant Association’s Research & Knowledge group.

The chart on the screen seemed infinitely large — and not just because it towered over the audience in a fifteen foot radius of blue. (read more…)

For restaurateurs, practicing sustainability can be challenging, but ultimately rewarding. It is important to start small and make incremental steps, but sometimes it’s fun and illustrative to think big.

Going zero waste is thinking and acting big! It can also boost your business.

So what is zero waste? Basically, it means reducing the amount of material you send to landfills by 90% or more.

Restaurateurs undertaking zero-waste efforts are essentially using nearly all of their raw resources efficiently (e.g., food, packaging, service ware) and adopting a “thou shall not waste” mentality. It is a mentality that they teach (and enforce) to their employees and, perhaps, even their guests. Once you do though, it could position your business to operate extremely efficiently.

If you’re wondering why you should care about practicing this zero-waste concept, here are four solid reasons:

  1. It can save you cash. The former Chicago restaurant Sandwich Me In,[1] which didn’t create trash for two years, is a great example.
  2. (read more…)

This post is sponsored by Burris Logistics.

A recent survey by Boston Consulting Group and Grocery Manufacturers Association revealed that supply chain executives are facing rising costs and declining service levels in their transportation and logistics operations.

Freight costs increased by as much as 11% during the past year, the report found, while case-fill rates and on-time deliveries declined, with respondents reporting service levels falling 1% to 5%.

However, there is also evidence that companies that find the right supply chain partners to work with are seeing improvements in their metrics.

According to the 2015 19th Annual Third Party Logistics Study, shippers reported an average logistics cost reduction of 9%, an average inventory cost reduction of 5% and an average fixed logistics cost reduction of 15% when working with a 3PL partner. Shippers in the study also reported improvements in order fill rates and order accuracy when they partner with 3PL providers. (read more…)

Menu boards are critical to many restaurant and foodservice operations: customers can’t order what they can’t see. And yet, we rarely consider their impact on the bottom line. Does the type of menu board matter — a digital board vs. a chalkboard? Do consumers really want photos? Have calorie counts had an impact?

To understand menu boards, Datassential surveyed over 1,500 consumers and 350 operators for our brand new Menu Board Keynote Report. What are the issues both consumers and operators have with menu boards? Which innovations do consumers find most useful? What can operators do to create a menu board that will bump up the check average?

Some of the results surprised us. One-third of consumers said they ordered the cheapest item on the board because it was the easiest to find. The same percentage said menu boards are generally placed too high up, making them difficult to read. And only 32% of operators say that every item available is represented on the menu board. (read more…)