Specialty Food Magazine

Spring 2019

Specialty Food Magazine is the leading publication for retailers, manufacturers and foodservice professionals in the specialty food trade. It provides news, trends and business-building insights that help readers keep their businesses competitive.

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best in the industry. The company was also among the first to jump on the voice-based ordering wave, integrating with Amazon Echo and Google Home, for example, and adding a voice assistant to its smartphone mobile app. The pizza giant's "AnyWare" approach to digital ordering technology was designed to let customers order from a wide range of platforms—from Apple TV to Ford Synch, smartwatches, Twitter, and Facebook Messenger, among others. Domino's recently said it would create a "tech garage" in Ann Arbor, Mich., where it will seek to develop a new, state-of-the-art POS system, among other tech innovations. Restaurants with more limited resources can tap into the technological capabilities of third-party ordering platforms such as GrubHub, which provides intelligence and analytics to help its foodservice partners operate more efficiently. "Our mission is to be a true partner for restaurants by going beyond simply connecting them to the diners," GrubHub said in a statement, citing tools that can assist restaurants with everything from demand generation to order fulfillment. "We work very closely with each restaurant partner to help drive pickup and delivery orders and increase their loyal diner base." GrubHub offers tools, for example, that allow restaurants to update menus and delivery boundaries in real time. Facilitating Customer Pickup Eatsa is also evolving its technologies to accommodate the increasing demand for off-premise dining, says Spitulnik. The company recently unveiled the Spotlight Pickup System, for example, which seeks to simplify and streamline the pickup process for customers, restaurant staff, and delivery service provid- ers. After entering the restaurant, a customer or delivery employee checks the digital board to see the status of his order, and is then guided to an automated service pickup "Spot" where the customer's name is clearly highlighted on a digital display, which can also be used for other customized messaging. Spitulnik says the technology seeks to provide a solution to a key organizational challenge facing operators: how to increase off-premise order volume while alleviating overcrowding and bottle- necks often caused by mobile ordering and third-party delivery. Early adopters of Eatsa's Spotlight Pickup systems include the fast-casual, mac-and-cheese restaurant MAC'D in San Francisco; gourmet salad-to-go restaurant Evergreens in Seattle; and Wow Bao in Chicago. Eatsa says that orders placed through mobile or kiosk devices are 20 percent to 30 percent higher than non-digital orders, and mobile customers visit 20 percent more frequently. In the future, the emergence of 5G technology and remote net- working software will lead to developments such as the increasing deployment of "cloud kitchens" that will use robots in commercial kitchens to prepare a variety of food orders on demand, says Zito of Miso Robotics. "As these connected hubs merge with AI, machine learning, and IoT [Internet of Things] offerings, the ability to apply intelli- gent automation in the commercial kitchen will accelerate," he says. Mark Hamstra is a regular contributor to Specialty Food Magazine. PHOTO: EATSA SPRING 2019 33

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