Chris Fletcher

Integration Alert: Restaurants Are Becoming Data Mazes

Restaurants are under immense pressure. Fortunately, digitalisation offers a solution. New technologies improve, speed up, and simplify previously slow, error-prone, and complex aspects of a restaurant's operations. 

Sadly, it is not all good news. Progress also brings new challenges.

The growing number of digital tools increases the mountain of data that restaurants have to process, making it harder to get actionable insights.

This is problematic because exactly these insights help foodservice operations address challenges like rising food costs, changing consumer preferences and crippling competition. 

Efficiency Moves Out of Reach

Digital transformation is not an end goal but a process.

It involves the continuous collection and analysis of sales, menu, purchasing and customer data to make the most efficient use of time and resources. This provides insights that help reduce costs, improve the customer experience and make employees happier.

For an industry known for its razor-thin profit margins, efficient digitalisation is an absolute must. The challenge lies in the overwhelming quantity and variety of data produced by the growing number of digital tools. 

What makes it worse is that some systems cannot or will not integrate because they see a competitive advantage or lack the technical abilities. These systems live on their own little islands and do not share data with other technology in the restaurant ecosystem.

As a result, valuable information gets trapped in isolated tools, keeping deeper insights hidden. 

These so-called data silos not only hinder growth and innovation but also add extra work and headaches for restaurant staff. Leadership must export data to Excel and manually piece things together to get an idea of what’s going on in the company. It’s cumbersome and frustrating. The risk of data loss or misinterpretation is high. 

Tosca Eggenhuizen, Product Owner F&B Systems at citizenM, said in an interview, "We were trying to bring together data from different departments to get a better grip on performance. This was extremely time-consuming and ultimately yielded little useful insight. There were simply too many variables."

Example: POS Integration with F&B Management Software

The opposite is true in a well-integrated tech ecosystem. Restaurant leaders can easily collect and analyse data from various sources, resulting in rich insights about profitability, customer preferences and overall performance.

A great example is the integrated ecosystem of POS systems with F&B management platforms like Apicbase. It streamlines restaurant delivery workflows for efficient ordering, automatic inventory updates and real-time data analysis. 

Imagine a busy restaurant chain with a popular hamburger menu.

The POS registers the sales. Apicbase retrieves the data and depletes the digital inventory of the ingredients used. As soon as the stock falls below a certain level, Apicbase generates purchase orders for the suppliers. At the end of the day, kitchen teams only have to review the orders and press send. Meanwhile, management can track peak times, menu popularity, turnover and actual margins in the dashboards. 

The Bigger Problem 

All the above is virtually impossible when restaurant software doesn’t integrate. If data is scattered across apps and spreadsheets, the likelihood of errors is higher, leading people to question the value of the data. 

Here lies the real problem: the restaurant industry is facing massive challenges. Digitalisation and the resulting operational efficiencies are desperately needed. 

If management doesn’t trust the output, effective digitisation doesn’t stand a chance.

Conclusion

New technologies significantly improve restaurant operational efficiency, which is a positive development. But to truly become data-driven, restaurants must also adapt their strategy. The focus should be on systems that can and want to integrate. If this happens, the workload for employees decreases, and profit margins significantly increase.

Carl Jacobs, CEO & Co-founder, Apicbase

Apicbase is an F&B management platform for multi-location restaurants. It centralises inventory management, procurement, recipe management, and menu development, providing managers with data-driven insights to reduce food costs, streamline processes, and enhance quality.

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