Know the Full Advantages of Foodservice Technology

Technology is continuing to change the face of foodservice in convenience stores.

With every passing day, month and year, better for-you foodservice options continue to infiltrate the convenience store industry.

Slowly but surely, the c-store industry is broadening its foodservice options for customers in a way that rivals restaurants.

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In fact, according to Nation’s Restaurant News “Wawa, Sheetz, Casey’s General Store, 7-Eleven and Circle K” have now made its “2018 Top 100” restaurants report.

That’s quite the achievement for the c-store industry.

It is only a natural progression that technology is continuing to change the face of foodservice in c-stores as well through the implementation of touchscreen kiosks and mobile ordering. Much like the restaurant industry, convenience store operators are embracing technology to help them achieve the following concepts:

Speed of Service. The use of technology to manage the repetitive task of order taking is one of the best ways to speed the process. This allows you to focus on producing a high-quality product in a shorter amount of time while delivering great service to the customer. No one likes to wait—a faster process means happier customers.

Order Accuracy. The possibility for miscommunication between you and the customer is eliminated. Customers can review their order as they place it and make any changes before the order is submitted to the kitchen. Not only do inaccurate orders lead to waste, but they also annoy the customer.

Choice. Touchscreen kiosks and mobile apps clearly communicate all available options and specials in an easily understood, step-by-step process. In addition, after placing their order, customers can browse the store or mobile device for additional items.

That being said, going from here to there when it comes to implementing new technology platforms, can be a daunting task.

Here is an outline of the key steps to implementing an in-store kiosk and/or mobile device platform:

Identify the Team. It all starts with executive sponsorship (buy-in is critical) then the project management team takes it from there. Included on the team should be:

  • Store Operations/Process
  • Food Services
  • Marketing
  • Technical Experts and Support Desk
  • Installers
  • Store Staff & Ambassadors
  • Facilities
  • Financial
  • Legal

Operational Process. Next up is to identify how things will work in a store, the logistics of the operation. Each of these items must be vetted to seamlessly integrate the technology option into today’s operations:

  • Current order/make/buy process mapping;
  • Future order/make/buy process mapping;
  • Receipt as order confirmation vehicle;
  • Device placement; kiosks and kitchen production system;
  • Price book coordination;
  • Customer messaging;
  • Store staff messaging; and
  • Facilities considerations: placement, power and networks.

Technical Processes. Once the operational processes have been mapped, identifying the technical connectivity items to support these activities is next. The customer will be front and center in this discussion to ensure that whatever path they take—whether on an in-store kiosk or through their mobile device—is accounted for. Some processes include:

  • Current store technology platform;
  • Store connectivity—capacity and timeline;
  • Vendor connectivity;
  • Item/Item Description/PLU list;
  • Integration point with POS;
  • Art file list/transfer; and
  • Hardware and software support process.

The convenience store industry has made tremendous strides in the past decade and is poised to continue to prosper with foodservice. Better-for-you items combined with a technology platform such as in-store kiosks or mobile device ordering will continue to attract more customers—especially from quick-service restaurants.

The race for “share of stomach” is on.

John Matthews is the founder and president of Gray Cat Enterprises Inc., a strategic planning, operations and interim general management firm that specializes in helping businesses grow in the restaurant, convenience and general retail industries. With more than 25 years of senior-level experience in retail and a speaker at retail-group events throughout the U.S., Matthews has recently written “Game-Changing Strategies For Retailers,” which is available on Amazon. For more information, visit www. graycatenterprises.com