QR codes may have only started popping up a few years ago as a pandemic-era contactless technology, but customers are already starting to age out of the original static experience that’s no different than picking up a paper menu. Why not take advantage of opportunities to learn more about your customers through data provided by QR code ordering and payment?
We spoke with Olo CEO Noah Glass about the new features being added and expanded to the Olo technology platform, including Borderless technology that remembers guest login details and enhanced QR code ordering capabilities that improve communications between the server and guest.
In other news in this special second edition of Tech Tracker, Xenial is throwing its hat into the crowded AI drive-thru ring with camera-based car-recognition technology to make the drive-thru line even more efficient, Toast is integrating with Google, and more.
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:
Olo adds new guest data and QR code ordering capabilities
Olo announced this month that the technology platform is adding and expanding several new features with the purpose of easing guest friction and improving communication between operators and customers. The new capabilities include expansion of Borderless after a pilot test of the technology, which allows guests to place online orders without needing a username or password.
Olo also launched enhanced QR code ordering, which lets customers update their table number as they dine so servers can find them, and the addition of geolocation technology for operators to see when digital order customers are approaching and arriving, ensuring that the customer gets their food hot.
They key takeaway from these tech capabilities? That customers want less friction and more ease of use from their restaurant interactions. Both the Borderless platform and QR code ordering also provide operators with crucial customer data, so that they can shape the way they interact with specific customers.
“We’re keeping details about the guest to the extent that the restaurant wants to know them, including order history, favorite orders, delivery addresses, etc.” Glass told Nation’s Restaurant News. “I have heard restaurants wanting to add additional fields like birthdays and anniversaries so you can do surprise and delight, as well as dietary preferences and allergens. It would be really cool for a vegan guest to log into their Borderless profile and only see menu items that are plant-based.”
The most important thing about this type of ordering platform, Glass said, is that it’s easy for the guest and solves problems rather than creates headaches. QR code ordering is an example:
“I should be able to not only pull up a menu where I could place an order, but my past orders are in there, my payment details are there and I don't have to start from scratch,” Glass said. “I think that is really powerful. It just makes the experience much more personalized.”
Xenial launches all-in-one drive-thru AI with car recognition tech
While we’ve been talking about drive-thru AI technology on Tech Tracker for a while now, Xenial — a cloud-based hospitality management platform owned by Global Payments — is throwing its own hat into the ring in an increasingly crowded field of drive-thru tech. So, what makes Xenial’s suite of drive-thru tech different than others?
According to Chris Siefken, head of technology at Xenial, their “drive-thru of the future” is an all-in-one suite of products and isn’t just a singular piece of the puzzle. Xenial also comes with camera-based car-recognition technology to match up the correct online order with the exact model and color of the customer’s car coming to pick it up. The different components of this system are able to communicate and recommend actions to workers at the restaurant based on how long the drive-thru line is or how many orders are coming in:
“Without all of these systems talking to each other in one place and in one format, you really can't build a good model to work from,” Siefkin said. “That ability now allows us to take and make better predictions about what to cook, who to have on staff, and what inventory to buy. […] The system will also constantly adjust throughout the day.”
For example, if the drive-thru line is particularly long, the system will know this and the restaurant can opt to send out a “line buster” to take orders manually with a tablet.
“You could be in line waiting, someone could take your order, run the food out to you and you can be told to leave the leave the line without ever having to actually make it end of the drive thru,” Siekin said. “We’re trying to expedite the experience.”
Toast is now integrated with Google
Earlier this month, Toast announced a new ordering channel in partnership with Google that is fully integrated with their POS system. With the launch of this new capability, Toast’s POS system now has three ordering channels: online ordering through Toast directly, the Toast Takeout app and ordering with Google. Any menu updates and changes will also sync with the Google ordering channel.
“As restaurants look to optimize their businesses across multiple channels and revenue streams, online ordering has become a critical channel for any restaurant,” Aman Narang, COO and co-founder of Toast said in a statement. “[…] As restaurants continue to grow their takeout and delivery business, this integration will increase Toast customers' visibility through Google search and maps.”
DoorDash launches shoppable ads on Roku
Speaking of opening new avenues of ordering food, DoorDash has announced a new partnership with streaming video service, Roku. At first glance, the partnership does not seem all that different from other company partnerships, as DoorDash is offering Roku members six months of free DashPass service. However, DoorDash is now implementing shoppable ads on Roku’s interface, which will allow restaurants to advertise directly to Roku users while they’re watching TV: It’s the shopping network in the age of streaming.
Contact Joanna at [email protected]