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Dynamic pricing is the talk of the industry these days.

Tech Tracker: How tech plays a role in the rise of dynamic pricing

Juicer creates a competitive pricing analysis tool, plus AI-enabled tech features launched this month from SpotOn, Chatmeter, and more

Although the restaurant industry has been experimenting with dynamic pricing for years, public discourse around the topic grew last month with the news that Wendy’s would be testing dynamic pricing in 2025. Though much of the social media buzz can be attributed to the public conflation of dynamic pricing with surge pricing, there is no doubt that variable menu prices — whether they are affected by the time of day, geographic location, or changing consumer needs — are key to restaurant optimization in 2024 and beyond.

New tech capabilities, including AI, will play a crucial role in the rise of dynamic pricing across the industry. For Wendy’s, changeable pricing starts with digital menu boards, which are being rolled out across the company’s portfolio, and includes AI-enabled menu changes that allow restaurants to raise or lower prices in the moment. This type of instant gratification suggestive pricing capability is being tested out by companies like restaurant revenue management platform Juicer, which just announced a new tool that helps restaurants adjust pricing and special offers based on data from local competitors.

In other news, AI is the central engine behind new tech features and capabilities from Flybuy's newly announced wait time analysis tool, to Chatmeter’s Risk Monitoring tool, which alerts restaurants of potential operational hazards, including food safety issues and customer complaints.

Tech Tracker rounds up what’s happening in the technology sector of the restaurant industry, including news from restaurants, vendors, digital platforms, and third-party delivery companies. Here’s a breakdown of what you need to know and why:

Juicer ramps up dynamic pricing capabilities

Revenue management platform Juicer had already embraced tech-backed dynamic pricing capabilities with its flagship product, Juicer Pricing, and now the software company announced an extension of its flexible pricing capabilities. Juicer Compete is a “hyper-local competitive pricing tool” that is marketed toward large enterprise brands and gives them the capability to compare their prices and deals/offers to nearby competitors.

 “We can now monitor and track this and say, ‘sales of your large pepperoni pizza have declined over the last two weeks, and your competitor around the corner has done some really great deals right now and stealing your market share,” Juicer CEO Ashwin Kamlani said. “You can’t look at these things in a vacuum, but you should be aware.”

The technology uses AI to grab pricing information and special offers from nearby competitors, and analyzes/aggregates that data into easily digestible suggestions for partner brands. The software platform offers real-time alerts so that operators can make split-second decisions to quickly update their pricing so that it either matches or beats competitors. The ability to change prices quickly based on real-time data is why dynamic pricing and machine learning technology go hand-in-hand. 

“When it comes to dynamic pricing, I always think about how we can benefit, and how it can help us during slow times in our restaurant,” Shawn Walchef, founder of Cali BBQ and Juicer customer, said. “We’re not talking about charging three times the normal price of a pulled pork sandwich-- we're talking about incremental changes in pricing…. I’m always looking for how I can drive somebody to our business that might be looking to place a bulk order, let’s say, and they can order from me at an off-time and get a discounted rate, versus ordering during Super Bowl Sunday, which is one of our most peak times.”

Chatmeter introduces AI-backed Risk Monitoring solution

As the industry makes the necessary shift from playing defense (problem-solving) to playing offense (anticipation of hurdles), technology is shifting gears to keep up. Reputation management software company Chatmeter just announced Risk Monitoring as a new feature that can allow operators to anticipate events rather than just solve them as they come up.  

Backed by AI, Risk Monitoring is a dashboard that analyzes, flags, and classifies possible business-related issues on the horizon from harassment and discrimination, to employee and customer safety. Predictive AI is becoming more of a useful tool as businesses attempt to avoid common pitfalls, and according to Chatmeter CTO Dan Cunningham, this new tool stands out from the pack by offering a detailed analysis rather than just basic positive, negative, or neutral customer sentiments.  

Flybuy Connect tackles capacity management challenges

With technology solutions increasingly looking to reduce customer frictions, Flybuy by Radius Networks announced this month the launch of Flybuy Connect—a new AI-driven feature that uses machine learning to predict wait times for customers based on travel time and kitchen capacity.

With a nod to previous order tracking technology like Domino’s Pizza Tracker, the technology provides customers with real-time updates on their order via mobile alerts. The technology also coordinates with the back of house as kitchen staff get the order ready, giving employees insights on when the customer will arrive based on their location and travel time. Flybuy claims this technology is much more likely to result in perfectly timed, hot food that wasn’t sitting on a shelf waiting to be picked up.

SpotOn gets into the AI marketing game

Last month, we rounded up new technology that delves into automation-driven marketing platforms. This month, SpotOn joined the fray with its new solution, SpotOn Marketing Assist.

SpotOn differentiates itself from competitors by offering a solution that the company claims has an incredibly simple user experience, as it automatically creates and schedules marketing campaigns for restaurant marketing teams based on a company’s predetermined business goals and a specific event. SpotOn gave the example of an March Madness campaign automatically created for a pizza brand that wants to drive online orders.

The AI marketing program also offers data-driven insights to figure out what automated marketing campaigns are resonating with customers (and which are not). SpotOn shared that with its preliminary launch, the company found that “slow day” deals specifically designed for dates/times when traffic is down, as well as happy hour promotions, resonate best with customers.

Restaurant365 launches tip automation software

Restaurant365 just announced new tipping software that is meant to take the manual labor and calculations out of back of house tip distribution and create an automated system for doing so. Notice a trend? Like most of the tech solutions mentioned in this column recently, Restaurant365 is looking to ameliorate the frustrating and often menial tasks for restaurant staff so they can focus on hospitality.

Users can create as many rules for tip distribution as needed (like what percentage the front of house gets vs. back of house), in order to move to an automated model. Employees can then see their tips from every shift in the Restaurant365 mobile app.

Presto and Bear Robotics nab funding

Restaurant tech startups are still getting the attention of investors. Here are two tech vendors that announced funding rounds this month:

  • Presto Automation, the creator of Presto Voice AI – a leader in voice intelligence in the drive-thru lane announced it raised $6 million in February, led by existing investors.   
  • Bear Robotics announced a $60 million series C funding round led by LG Electronics for a “strategic alliance” to expand its influence in the robotics market.
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