Tech Providers Build Toward All-in-One Solutions to Win Restaurants’ Loyalty

restaurant technology

As restaurant technology companies look to offer end-to-end unified solutions, Olo is getting partners involved.

The software-as-a-service (SaaS) company announced Tuesday (April 11) the launch of its Olo Connect program, a partner ecosystem that offers restaurant customers access to features from other tech providers such as geolocation and voice commerce capabilities that integrate with the platform.

“Since its founding, Olo has committed to being an open platform, with the firm belief that our technology partners help Olo better serve our restaurant customers,” Chief Revenue Officer Diego Panama said in a statement. “With Olo Connect, we’re opening the door for new and expanded relationships and providing our network of over 600 restaurant brands the data driven insights they need to confidently choose the right digital tools for their brand in an increasingly crowded landscape.”

The program includes integrations with digital ordering technology companies including Bite, Bounteous, 5&5and FlyBuy, with voice commerce firm Kea and with loyalty platform Thanx, among others.

The news comes as part of Olo’s years-long stated goal, outlined in its 2021 filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in advance of its initial public offering (IPO), of unifying restaurants’ digital systems, addressing the disorder of tech stacks built piecemeal with incompatible software providers over time.

Of course, Olo is not the only restaurant technology provider looking to position its offerings at the center of eateries’ digital activities. Take, for instance, aggregators such as DoorDash, which have evolved well beyond third-party delivery to offer direct ordering sites, analytics and more. Last year, DoorDash even announced the acquisition of an on-premises ordering technology firm, looking to touch dine-in transactions as well.

Then there are firms outside the restaurant industry that are looking to expand their presence in the category, bringing their already-built solutions from other fields. Toshiba Global Commerce Solutions, for one, announced Tuesday that it is partnering with distributor BlueStar to bring its point of sale (POS) offerings to more businesses across the “retail, restaurant, and hospitality industries.”

Restaurants, for their part, are indeed looking to step up their digital capabilities in an effort to boost efficiency and minimize labor needs. Data cited in the March edition of PYMNTS’ Money Mobility Tracker®, “Inflation Makes Technology Table Stakes for Restaurants,” created in collaboration with Ingo Money, finds that nine in 10 restaurant owners view increased automation of back-of-house operations as a way to free up time to focus on more important tasks. Plus, 75% of restaurant operators plan to adopt new technology this year to address their labor and cost challenges.

Moreover, data from PYMNTS’ “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.

In an interview with PYMNTS, Tim McLaughlin, CEO of Arlington, Virginia-based restaurant company GoTab, spoke to inflation’s effect on how restaurant managers are approaching technology.

“It’s been good for us to be honest, because they’re having to think about efficiency,” McLaughlin said. “People are finally starting to pay attention to things like labor costs going up.”