How digital transformation is changing the face of QSR and what all operators need to know

You’ve probably got some digitization in your stores already. Online POS systems, digital headsets, tablets, digital menus, self-serve kiosks, app-enabled ordering, click & collect, Uber Eats – but what do these pieces of tech mean for the future of QSR and that almighty important part, QUICK?

Digital is part of our everyday life. We get up and we’re online – emails, the news, scrolling social media and perhaps ordering a coffee online. We head off to work and jump on a computer. We Google Hang to meet. The screen at the gas station greets us with our name (in NZ), we skip the queue at the supermarket by going self-serve (ha! Or better yet, don’t face the supermarket at all and order online – I’m not quite there yet), all the while talking to friends and family across the globe and ordering our favourite meal online to pick up on the way home. Boy, no wonder we have high expectations as consumers. We want it now, we want it tailored to our needs – and we want it with service!

2019 is a year of rapid advancement in QSR, both in consumer expectations and digital tech. New digital tech and automation are making a big appearance in QSR as businesses focus in on operational efficiency and customer experience. The face of QSR is changing, along with consumer demands, it’s faster, insists on accuracy, personalisation and more interaction than ever before. With the average drive-thru taking almost 4 minutes and trends showing this statistic is increasing – it’s time to flip it on its head. Data is king here. Data highlights bottlenecks in traffic flow and kitchen and staff reaction time. Real-time data presented in an easy to interpret way is a game-changer for managing a drive-thru. It takes the guesswork out of it and enables staff to make better decisions, on the fly. With most QSR restaurants operating in a data deficit environment, rather than data rich, this is a key area to focus to meet strategic goals.

Studies show an uplift in order spend, some 20 percent, from digitally placed orders. Why is this? It gives consumers freedom and puts the control in their hands. Control to order as fast as like they, exactly what they like and to sample items they’ve been meaning to try. The hands-on interaction and connection with the brand is also an important factor as consumers crave their own, more personalised customer experience. How can you give more control to your customers? Customised menus, personalised greetings, self-service, payment solutions… the options are vast and the rewards can be great. Think about what a 20 percent lift across your business would look like?

Data is king here. Data highlights bottlenecks in traffic flow and kitchen and staff reaction time.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is what’s underpinning advancements in digital tech. It can be applied to pinpoint areas to speed up the drive-thru and manage different order types. Got an order packing error issue? It can be applied to solve this. Got a wide customer demographic base? Menus can automatically adjust based on customer demographics and the amount of attention customers are giving a particular screen. Think about how this technology could be applied to your brand and the interactive customer experience you could offer – because this is real and the possibilities of how it can be applied are literally endless. We’re only at the beginning.

To be competitive, digital transformation is where it’s at. And to us, digital transformation is digital tech working together in an ecosystem to improve a business in totality. Individual pieces of digital tech that don’t talk together won’t cut it. To improve your bottom line and customer experiences, a system has to underpin the tech and it has to integrate together. The POS system has to talk to the drive-thru system, the drive-thru system has to talk to the digital menus, the digital menus have to talk to the self-serve kiosks, the self-serve kiosks have to talk to POS system. It has to connect together to be an ecosystem and if it does, your digital transformation will positively impact the customer and employee experience and your bottom line. So what’s your next move towards digital transformation in your stores?