From PCI to EMV and from cloud POS reporting to integrated CRM capabilities, prospective buyers of next-generation restaurant POS systems should understand the important terminology and key concepts before embarking on the journey to upgrade their existing technologies - or, as the case may be, before making a first-time investment.
Many of these concepts are explored at length in The 2015 Smart Decision Guide to Restaurant POS Systems, published by Starfleet Research, which is now available for complimentary download.
Following is a look at just a few key concepts and areas of functionality to keep in mind with next-generation solutions.
POS Data Intelligence
As is true with many other industries, the impact of the cloud has been enormous, providing restaurant owners and managers with anytime, anywhere access to restaurant activities, records and backend processes, across all store locations, from any device. This degree of visibility is unprecedented and it offers a whole new level of management control.
Which dishes are the most popular? Which dishes are the least popular? Which are the most profitable? Which are the least profitable? Which servers are the most productive? Which are the least productive? Which types of customers are the most valuable? Which are the least valuable?
The answers to these and countless other questions generally reside somewhere in the POS data. In the past, restaurateurs who wanted to mine the data in an effort to extract meaningful information often faced a difficult and time-consuming challenge.
Many next-generation POS systems, by contrast, have built-in capabilities that make it possible to readily generate all types of actionable insights, oftentimes on an ad hoc basis. This empowers restaurateurs. It gives them the information they need to make informed decisions about all aspects of their business operations.
Some systems can even help to look into the future and predict financial outcomes based on such factors as dining-out trends and seasonal dish popularity. With some systems, alerts can be set based on predefined triggers. These alerts can notify a manager when inventory is running low and needs to be restocked, for example, or when high-cost or high-risk food items like liquor are going out the door unaccounted for, indicating the possibility of theft.
In short, POS data intelligence, which goes by many names and generally encompasses multiple aspects of a restaurants operations, is key to remaining competitive and driving continuous performance improvement.
Customer Relationship Management
Utilizing CRM capabilities, restaurants can automatically capture and store guest contact information, including email and phone numbers, along with their food and drink order history. By applying segmentation schemes, and even augmenting the information with third-party data, restaurants can create a robust database of customer profiles.
The database can serve as the basis for launching targeted promotional campaigns and building loyalty and rewards programs, the results of which can go a long way toward increasing customer loyalty, generating positive word of mouth and, ultimately, increasing sales revenue.
Restaurant POS Systems have made big strides in areas unrelated to point of sale. A good example is employee management. Many POS systems now come with a host of integrated employee scheduling tools. Some systems even boast of financial management features designed to optimize labor utilization.
These tools make it easy to not only perform basic tasks like tracking employee hours and submitting payroll directly from the system, but, in some cases, to also predict sales and staffing needs. Using data-driven sales forecasting and labor planning tools, managers can plan for the volume of business that is expected on a daily and hourly basis based on historic information and other factors. By accurately meeting labor targets, and also by understanding which servers are the most productive, restaurants can better control payroll costs and maximize workforce efficiency.
Some POS solution providers have also been innovating in the area of inventory management. The goal is to track inventory depletion in a real-time manner to help reduce food waste, monitor inventory levels and increase profitability.
Some systems are able to track raw materials from the time the kitchen receives a shipment through ongoing ingredient usage based on menu item orders. Managers can automatically compare the variances between physical inventory and POS data to determine if there may be theft, for example, or portion measurement issues. Some solutions offer automatic purchase order generation based on par levels and minimum order quantities.
About Smart Decision Guides
Smart Decision Guides from Starfleet Media serve as definitive resources and required reading for decision makers researching selected niche markets with the intention of making a purchase decision. The content is independently produced, without editorial involvement from company underwriters, providing for unbiased, fact-based information and buying recommendations.
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