Digitising QSRs: From one-off solutions to an integrated, whole-of-restaurant approach

What does the restaurant of the future look like? If trends emerging out of the pandemic are to be an indication, the restaurant of the future will rely heavily on digital solutions and traffic to drive sales. Whether in the form of a mobile app, drive-thru technology, or in-store kiosks, these digital solutions – which were a mere nice-to-have a few years ago – now spell the difference between success and failure for QSRs in a post-COVID world.

The extent of this success will depend on how digital solutions are executed. Simply having an app may no longer be enough for a QSR, especially as al fresco dining picks up and drive-thru ordering is predicted to remain popular long after the pandemic.

Luke Irving, CEO at Fingermark™, highlights that while stand-alone digital solutions are important, digital integration should be the ultimate goal for QSRs. This means having a seamless flow of information across various touch points, from the customer to the kitchen, then to the front-of-house and eventually, the management.

“Nowadays, it is important for a business to have one source of truth. Technology can help provide that, as it enables faster and enhanced communication between the customer and the stores and across various teams within a store, such as the order taker, cashier and kitchen,” he added.

Customers go digital

Digital integration may be the goal, but customer-centricity is still the driver behind it. A 2019 Google report shows 79% of Aussie respondents consider food delivery apps their go-to source for ordering food. In particular, millennial and Gen Z Aussies are leading digital usage, with 52% using food delivery apps as their primary method for getting lunch.

In 2020, drive-thru orders saw a massive spike around the world, leading restaurants to consider a total redesign of their physical space. This also meant revisiting their digital strategy and considering innovations such as a booking feature for curbside pickups or an in-app digital menu and ordering system for drive-ins.

The use of self-service kiosks in QSRs has also been growing, especially since this technology reduces person-to-person contact. On top of this increased health and safety for staff and customers, kiosks also increase customer spending, reduce wait times and decrease order errors.

The key for restaurants is to integrate all of these solutions so they manage it from a single platform. This eliminates the need to switch between computer programs and provides the real-time transparency needed to drive operational efficiencies and enhance the customer experience.

“Digital restaurant operating systems provide real time actionable data and tracking across locations with trend analysis and comparative reporting. Customer demand will see increased expectations around order accuracy and speed of service; with both being equally important in the customer’s mind to enhance customer experience,” Irving said.

Future-proof your store

With the help of data from its digital solutions, Fingermark™ enables QSRs to make the right decisions for their restaurants. Smart digital solutions that drive efficiency, reduce labour costs, and minimise errors and waste are now the game changer.

In response to the challenges of speed and accuracy, Fingermark developed Eyecue™, an AI-powered machine vision technology that provides cutting-edge real-time insights into the full customer drive-thru experience and helps restaurants understand why customers baulk or when and how they should use parking lots or wait bays. Eyecue™ has moved QSRs from traditional drive-thru loop technology, to using computer vision, deep learning and big data tech.

Meanwhile, omnichannel commerce –  or flexible integration of instore, drive-thru, curbside, online and own apps with delivery aggregators and third parties – provides customers with the choice of how to engage with a store, how to receive their order, and how to be rewarded for their loyalty.

Restaurants can further enhance the experience by leveraging data around customer behaviour and purchase history to predict customers’ orders and provide targeted personalised offers, whether on the app or on a self-service kiosk.

Why QSRs partner with Fingermark™

Digital integration providers can only be truly effective when they have a wide range of expertise, from product discovery and ideation to operational product support. Fingermark™ brings this advantage to the table through its DevOps (development & operational) mindset, which has built a culture of empowered, collaborative teams and encourages autonomy and experimentation, with appropriate breathing space to think and innovate.

“Development teams work as cross functional teams with multiple disciplines in a team which avoid bottlenecks and the team are empowered to grow their product,” Irving said.

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