PYMNTS - Voice Technology - September 2023

Restaurants Consolidate Tech Stacks in Search for Simpler Solutions

AI, phone ordering, restaurants, ResTech

Many restaurants have built up their tech stacks over time and are now seeking to winnow down their digital solutions, finding themselves with a disorderly tangle of incompatible software.

Take, for instance, Inspire Brands, the parent company of Arby’s, Buffalo Wild Wings, Jimmy John’s and more.

The restaurant group, which has more than 32,000 restaurants across its portfolio, is standardizing its eCommerce solutions across many of its restaurants. The company announced Wednesday (Sept. 27) that it is extending its partnership with tech provider Fiserv, already in place at Dunkin’, Sonic and Baskin-Robbins, to more restaurant brands to unify its solutions across banners.

“As buying experiences become more connected to customer loyalty, enabling seamless interactions across channels has become critical to our success,” Inspire Brands Chief Financial Officer Kate Jaspon said. “Inspire’s expanded relationship with Fiserv will simplify and improve how we serve our customers through any platform or payment method they choose.”

The move comes as Inspire Brands finds opportunities to unify its various restaurant chains, tapping models such as co-branded locations.

Many restaurants across the industry are looking to simplify their digital technologies, seeking solutions that span as many parts of their operations as possible — payment, analytics, order management and more.

Restaurants really value an all-in-one because they’re not usually technologists, and so they want to simplify,” Tony Smith, co-founder and CEO at restaurant management software company Restaurant365, told PYMNTS in an interview posted in May.

Those in the restaurant industry may not be technologists, but they certainly need technology. Data cited in the March edition of PYMNTS’ Money Mobility Tracker®, “Inflation Makes Technology Table Stakes for Restaurants,” created in collaboration with Ingo Money, showed that 75% of restaurant operators plan to adopt new technology this year to address their labor and cost challenges.

Plus, PYMNTS Intelligence from last year’s “Restaurant Readiness Index” study, which drew from a survey of more than 500 quick-service and full-service restaurant managers across the country, revealed that 28% reported having implemented new technology to cope with staffing challenges.

Tech providers are racing to meet this demand. For instance, this past spring, restaurant Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) company Olo announced the launch of its Olo Connect program, a partner ecosystem that offers restaurant customers access to features from other tech providers. This enables the company to offer features ranging from geolocation tools to voice commerce capabilities that integrate with its platform.

In May, Paytronix announced its guest engagement solution for restaurants and convenience stores on the Square App Marketplace, integrating the former’s customer engagement capabilities with the latter’s point-of-sale (POS) platform.

In a conversation with PYMNTS last year, ItsaCheckmate founder and CEO Vishal Agarwal explained that, as more digital ordering channels become available, it is increasingly important for restaurants to have straightforward, unified tools to manage their tech stacks.

“If [the consumer is] more comfortable texting an order or telling Amazon Alexa to get me my pizza, that’s great [for them], but I think the problem comes with the restaurant operators,” Agarwal explained. “How do they manage so many different channels? … I think that’s going to be the next big evolution of these ordering platforms.”