ChowNow Joins Tech Providers Aiming to Alleviate Restaurants’ Digital Growing Pains

online food ordering

Restaurant operators are fed up with managing their disparate mess of digital solutions, and tech providers are noting the opportunity. On Tuesday (Oct. 5), online ordering platform ChowNow announced a new product, its “Order Better Network,” which quickly makes restaurants’ menus available across an expansive suite of digital marketplaces and social networks, integrating ordering buttons to drive conversion.

The product promises, per ChowNow’s site, to be restaurants’ “one-stop shop for endless growth.” Additionally, it adjusts menu prices to accommodate for different platforms’ fees, holding per-order profits constant.

“ChowNow’s mission for over ten years has been helping independent restaurants thrive,” Chris Webb, co-founder and CEO of ChowNow, said in a statement. “For the first time, restaurants can easily and efficiently expand their online presence across a variety of popular brand channels and access millions of new customers.”

The Context

Restaurants are currently in a tough spot with their tech solutions whereby they need digital tools both to automate lengthy manual processes and to compete for consumers’ attention, but managing these disparate digital solutions is becoming its own time-intensive task.

“Restaurant brands historically have not standardized the type of technology platforms that must be deployed across their locations,” ResTech solutions provider Olo noted in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing in advance of its initial public offering (IPO) earlier this year. “For example, in our survey, 70 percent of respondents indicated they use two to four different technology providers to collect orders across various channels.”

See also: Olo Highlights Five Key Takeaways In S-1 Filing For IPO

Throughout this year, technology providers have been racing to promise restaurants the most comprehensive solution, adding new features into their products that serve different needs or offering the ability to integrate with other popular technology providers.

For instance, last week, Yelp launched its “Guest Manager” product, consolidating the company’s suite of front-of-house tools into a single solution. Additionally, point of sale (POS) providers have been increasingly integrating additional front- and back-of-house tools into their offerings, adding value beyond the moment of payment.

Read more: With ‘Guest Manager,’ Yelp Joins Tech Providers Aiming to Be Restaurants’ One-Stop Shop

POS Providers Compete To Be Restaurants’ One-Stop Shop

What Experts are Saying

“One of the big common questions [from restaurants] right now is, ‘What should I be doing for my technology platform for the future?’” Andrew Robbins, co-founder and CEO at restaurant Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) company Paytronix, told Karen Webster in an interview. “They’re saying, ‘I was nimble. I had to adapt last year, and I put in a lot of cool things. Now that I know tech is really important, do I have the right platform to grow on in the future?’… People want to go fast, but they want to know that the base is something to build on.”

Many believe that the end goal is a fully connected restaurant, with all of restaurants’ hard- and software tools seamlessly communicating with one another.

“Five years from now, I think restaurants in general will be built upon the internet of things,” Andy Wiederhorn, CEO of  FAT Brands, the global franchising company behind 14 major restaurant brands, told PYMNTS. “Customers will place an order on their phone or in-store, which will then notify a restaurant’s POS system, which will talk to the grill, who talks to the fryer, who talks to the walk-in fridge, who makes an order to the potato supplier without a manager or cook having to lift a finger.”

Related news: Paytronix CEO: Restaurants Are Reopening But Digital Ordering Is Here To Stay

FAT Brands CEO Predicts the IoT Future of ResTech