STORES Magazine - April 2015 - (Page 42)

n TECHNOLOGY Coming Right Up! Quick-service restaurants speed service, please customers with digital ordering by PETER JOHNSTON T wo of the nation's largest restaurant chains, Hardee's and TGI Fridays, have recently launched pilot programs involving computerized ordering systems. In both cases, food and drink selections are made on a touchscreen device and transmitted to the kitchen. The devices can also double as a point-of-sale terminal, allowing customers to pay their tabs on the spot. So far, the experiment seems to be a success. Both chains report that the computerized order systems are speeding up service and improving the customer experience. Both are also gaining operational benefits - not all of them anticipated. While neither company was willing to discuss financial specifics for competitive reasons, both indicated that they hope to roll the technology out chain-wide. It's worth noting that a large percentage of the locations in both companies - over 50 percent in the case of TGIF, and 76 percent of the CKE Restaurants total, which includes Carl's and Hardee's - are operated by franchisees. If you want to put a new technology in a franchise, you can't just do it by decree; you have to make a business case for it. TECH'S CONSUMERIZATION Tom Lindblom, senior vice president and CTO of CKE Restaurants, says, "This is an idea that's been around in the restaurant business for a number of years. It never really took off, because the kiosks were really way too expensive. If you're looking at a $30,000 to $40,000 device [and] have to have multiples of them, the economics just weren't there." What changed the equation, Lind- "The server might ring in the beverage order and suggest an appetizer, and if it's a quick appetizer, it's not uncommon for the appetizer and the drink to arrive at the table while the server is still there engaging with the guests." - Tripp Sessions, TGI Fridays 42 STORES April 2015 blom says, was the consumerization of IT - a refocusing of product and service design with individual consumers in mind. Expensive terminals aren't designed, because consumers won't buy them; nor are proprietary operating systems. What are developed instead are affordable devices running on widely accepted systems: in Hardee's case, Dell Optiplex 3030 All-in-One terminals running Microsoft Windows 8. The Dell 3030's 24-inch screen allows Hardee's to showcase its products. A customer sees the terminal, walks up to it and - aided by a very simple menu and navigation system - starts placing an order, any way they want it. "We allow you to customize your product by dragging on ingredients," Lindblom says. "If you want to add some extra cheese, lettuce, bacon, whatever it might be, you can do that and graphically see it on the screen. Once you finish, you're basically skipping the line. Your order is transmitted instantaneously to the kitchen." Hardee's installed the first terminals in November and December, and they are in about 30 restaurants now. "Our target audience is young, hungry Millennials," says Lindblom. "They're really into their devices and are expecting to be able to use the same technology everywhere." The young and the tech-savvy, though, are not the only ones who like the kiosks. "With customers of all ages, we found that if we just turn them loose, they can walk up to it and figure out how to use it immediately," he says. TAILORING TECHNOLOGY TO CULTURE A variant of this approach is being used by TGI Fridays, which began its pilot last August in a half-dozen NRF.COM/STORES http://www.NRF.COM/STORES

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of STORES Magazine - April 2015

A Most Complex Game
It's All Connected
Retail People
Selling Satisfaction
Editor's Page
President's Page
Retail Politics
NRF News
NRF Communities Update
End Cap
Business Operations
Online Fraud

STORES Magazine - April 2015