Why Fast Food Is Racing To Ditch The Dining Room

Five hours into a long drive through New England last week, I needed coffee. I pulled up to a Dunkin’ in Gorham, New Hampshire, parked, and got out of the car. Mistake. In the donut-scented interior, I learned that this Dunkin’ wasn’t taking orders in the store—only at the drive-thru and via the app. Reluctantly, I downloaded Dunkin’, selected a large cold brew, tapped in my credit card number, and watched in silence as two workers prepared and placed the coffee on the largely obsolete counter.

Seven days later, I got an email—“Are Your Cravings Calling?”—that left me unsure if I’d signed up for DD or AA. I was part of the Dunkin’ digital universe now, which is right where the company, owned by Atlanta-based Inspire Brands, wants me. Certainly more than in the actual store. Last August, Dunkin’ opened its first “digital” location on Beacon Street in Boston. There are no cashiers, replaced by touchscreens and mobile ordering, and no seats or tables.

Dunkin’ is far from alone. Name a fast-food restaurant and the odds are the company has recently developed a branch without any restaurant at all. Chipotle’s first “Digital Kitchen,” which opened in upstate New York in 2020, has no dining room. A branch that opened last year in the Cleveland suburbs doesn’t even let customers inside the store.

This summer, Taco Bell opened something it calls Taco Bell Defy, which is not a restaurant at all but a purple taco tollbooth powered by QR code readers and dumbwaiters that bring the food down from a second-story kitchen. The operation is, by most accounts, astoundingly efficient. Wingstop’s “restaurant of the future” doesn’t have seats or take cash.

What’s driving this trend? Partly savings on real estate and labor. But mostly it’s a response to consumer preference. Pushed by pandemic restrictions and pulled by the increasing ease of mobile transactions, customers have rushed into drive-thrus, delivery, and mobile ordering. Even with coronavirus fears in most Americans’ rear-view mirror, Chipotle’s in-restaurant sales now account for just a third of its business. At Panera, which opened its first to-go-only locations this summer, that figure is under 20 percent.

“It’s a way to cater to changing customer-order behaviors,” explains Emma Beckett, an editor at Restaurant Dive, an industry publication. While smaller store footprints and radical new designs are mostly reserved for new locations, she says, the arms race is on to remodel older stores with drive-thru lanes. “Everyone wants double or triple drive-thrus, so those parcels are becoming competitive, because there are only so many corner lots that can accommodate that.”

Everything is moving in the direction of Checkers and Rally’s, two drive-thru chains that were early to this idea. Take Salad And Go, the nine-year-old budget salad chain that now has dozens of locations in Arizona and Texas. Salad And Go has no inside at all, nor does it usually bother with picnic benches or even parking spots, like Sonic. Founder Roushan Christofellis has said the stores’ “microfootprints” are the secret to their super-affordable salads. As a bonus, no public interior space means you don’t need to build customer parking.

Wherever Americans are eating, it isn’t inside fast-food joints. To meet this shift, some chains, like Wendy’s and Qdoba, have embraced “ghost kitchens,” unmapped, closed-door facilities where food for delivery might be prepared for a dozen different brands at once.

Increasingly, the logic behind ghost kitchens is finding its way into public-facing retail design too. Last year, I wrote about how the rise in digital ordering was messing up the fast-casual experience, as restaurant workers struggled under a workload that depended little on the number of customers in the store. The good news is they are working on solving the problem. The bad news is: I am the problem.

Like the parallel remote-work phenomenon, the rise of what McDonald’s calls the Three D’s—digital, drive-thru, and delivery—may reflect an ongoing social atomization as the shared spaces that emptied out during the pandemic are slow to fill back up, to the point that walk-up, dine-in customers like me are no longer the focus, and might even be a nuisance. Often lauded as a vital “third space” for seniors, teenagers, and families in communities that lack friendly public spaces, McDonald’s unveiled a concept store in 2020 that has no seating at all.

It does, however, have algorithms inside the My McDonald’s App. “Imagine what can happen once we start to know, ‘Oh, Brian’s coming to the restaurant,’ and what we can do,” McDonald’s digital engagement head Lucy Brady told Wired in 2020. It’s like a 21st-century version of the waitress asking if you’ll have the usual.

On the other hand, to-go orders might not be replacing meals with friends as much as they’re eating into grocery-store spending. In the 2010s, American restaurant spending surpassed grocery spending for the first time, a dramatic shift from the 1990s when U.S. consumers spent $3 at the grocery for every $2 at the restaurant. “Breakfast spending is the fastest-growing daypart,” one industry analyst observed, “and that’s the ultimate utility. No one is sitting down for breakfast.”

That’s probably what’s motivating coffee-centric chains, among which Panera isn’t the only one scrambling to scrap seating areas. As Jonathan Maze wrote this summer in Restaurant Business Online, “Dutch Bros, which went public last year, rocketed to become the third-largest coffee chain with a model that features no seating. The fifth largest is Scooters Coffee, which is also a drive-thru-only concept. The fourth largest, Minneapolis-based Caribou, is focusing all its attention on growing drive-thru-only locations.” The occasion for Maze’s piece was the first drive-thru-only Tim Horton’s.

Something similar is happening at Starbucks. Despite its roots as an urban gathering place whose comfy chairs, Wi-Fi, and bathrooms invite customers to linger, on-and-off closures related to COVID have helped accelerate a business shift toward mobile, delivery, and drive-thru, which now make up almost three quarters of the brand’s U.S. revenue. And that’s just fine with Starbucks brass: Those customers make bigger purchases than the ones who walk in and order at the counter.

Starbucks opened its first “Starbucks Pickup” store in 2019, in Manhattan, and the model has since expanded to cities across the country. “These stores center on convenience and illustrate one way we can meet evolving customer behaviors in dense, urban locations,” a spokesperson says. As for Starbucks’ role as social infrastructure, the company has said it is “creating the digital third space.” “We plan to create a series of branded NFT collections, the ownership of which initiates community membership, and allows for access to exclusive experiences and perks,” chief marketing officer Brady Brewer wrote in May. Your Viennese coffee house could never.

You can see the zeitgeist in the rise of another coffee chain, Blank Street, whose New York locations rewards mobile pre-orders and often eschew seating altogether in favor of tiny, low-rent retail footprints. Most don’t have bathrooms, but then Howard Schultz has said Starbucks may reverse its own open-bathroom policy, citing problematic customer behavior. After closing a store in Philadelphia due to “safety” issues, Starbucks’ new Center City location has neither seating nor restrooms.

Perhaps we shouldn’t take these seatless concept stores too seriously. After all, they represent only a tiny experiment compared to the nation’s tens of thousands of existing fast-food restaurants, which, the Dunkin’ in Gorham, New Hampshire excepted, continue to offer old-fashioned thrills such as ordering with a human cashier and sitting at a table to eat. And let’s be honest, fast food’s appeal has always been the food—not the human connection and certainly not the ambiance.

“Pre-pandemic, about 50 percent of food was consumed on premise and 50 percent was drive-thru and delivery,” said Mark Landini, a retail designer who has worked with McDonald’s and other brands. “Because of the pandemic, that’s now changed to 20-80.” Landini specializes in eye-catching designs, and he suggested that further streamlining the fast-food experience might not be good for workers or, in the long run, brands.

(Or, obviously, his firm.) “I think ghost kitchens are a big mistake,” he said. “You’re effectively putting your business in someone else’s hands and the less a brand can manifest its personality, the less you’ll experience it emotionally. If you’re going to reduce that physical interaction for operational economics, or to reach a broader audience, the long-term effect is your product becomes a commodity on someone else’s shelf.”

Then again, the futuristic Taco Bell Defy and its ilk—as well as these companies’ earnings reports—show us where Americans are going, or more precisely, how. It’s not just mobile apps that are making these changes attractive, but an older technology that also promised both freedom and a kind of anti-social isolation: the automobile. The pandemic-fueled rise of the drive-thru just isn’t going away. Maybe it’s because remote work has pushed fast-food spending into suburban, car-dependent locations.

Maybe it’s because sitting down at Chipotle only seemed like a good idea relative to returning to the office, but nothing beats the kitchen table. Maybe it’s because there are more fun things to do at home, online, than ever before. One way or another, vehicle miles traveled are back to where they were in 2020, even though many white-collar workers aren’t in the office five days a week. They’re still going to the drive-thru, though.

Source: Fast-food chains like Taco Bell, Dunkin’, and Panera are ditching dining areas for drive-thrus and mobile ordering.

Critics by deliverect

we’ll discuss some key challenges of digital ordering and online food delivery for restaurants and how to address them.

1. You punch in delivery orders manually, losing time and sometimes making errors 

Many restaurants assign one of their employees to online orders, accepting delivery and takeout orders on the aggregators’ tablets and entering them in your restaurant’s point-of-sale system by hand. This manual task, which is both time and labor intensive, creates a delay in the order flow.

By automating the online order process, you can eliminate human error and free up your staff’s time, to focus on improving the customer experience. With tickets printed in the kitchen in a consistent format, your delivery operation will run much smoother.

2. The more online ordering platforms, the more tablet mayhem

When you deliver food, working with multiple third-party food ordering players is a smart strategy to scale up your business. Each delivery service your restaurant works with will send you their own device, usually a tablet, with platform-specific software.

You can solve this issue by integrating your delivery orders into your point-of-sale system, automatically pulling in all your orders to your POS.

3. Managing your menus across different online ordering platforms takes up a LOT of time

Never before have there been so many restaurants offering delivery and takeout. Therefore it’s crucial to stand out, and one sure-fire way to do this is with a menu adapted for delivery that is clear, attractive, and customizable.

Fortunately, it’s possible to quickly and efficiently manage multi-location and multi-platform menus from one screen. Deliverect’s omnichannel restaurant solution comes with an easy menu builder that enables you to create, duplicate and automate menu items, and publish them to multiple channels with a few clicks.

4. You don’t have real-time sales data, and you don’t know what’s been sold online

Analyzing your sales data is one of the best and fastest ways to optimize and grow. If your restaurant is available on multiple online ordering platforms, however, it can be challenging to get a complete overview of all your online sales. 

Seamless integration between your online sales channels and your POS system is all it takes to solve this pain. Connecting all your online ordering platforms to your point of sale means you’ll see all your sales data in real-time, on one screen.

5. Customers can order out-of-stock items because your stock isn’t synced with your online channels

Replenishing your inventory can be a complicated job if your stock isn’t automatically updated in your restaurant inventory software or point-of-sale system after an order has been placed online.

Many modern POS systems already include stock management, but to sync with your online sales platforms, restaurants need an active POS integration.

6. Your online orders aren’t in your POS – you’re not VAT compliant

Hospitality businesses are subjected to rigid tax regulations worldwide. In some countries, restaurants and catering services are required to work with a registered cash system – the so-called “white cash register” to avoid fraud.

Automate your online order flow to ensure your online orders, no matter which platform they come from will be sent to your POS system without you having to do anything. It’s that simple!

7. Your restaurant is crowded with riders

Food delivery couriers need to make as many deliveries as possible to earn a living. For them, there’s nothing more frustrating than waiting for a meal that’s not ready for pickup.

One solution is to rethink your restaurant’s design and flow to accommodate specially designed waiting areas for riders. You may also want to think about a screen displaying order statuses that are ideally placed in your delivery pickup area. This will increase the efficiency of your pickup.

8. Customers don’t find your restaurant in the app

Cities like London, Madrid, Amsterdam, Dubai, and New York count thousands of eateries with delivery services. With many of those signed up with platforms like Uber Eats, Postmates, Talabat, and Deliveroo, the number of in-app restaurant listings, and thus competition, is huge.

Faster preparation times, faster delivery times, higher acceptance and online rates,… in short, a better delivery performance will lead to more positive customer reviews and a better position of your listing.

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WebPrimo The Game Changing All-in-One Marketing Solution that Creates Websites For Any Business

WebPrimo is a powerful, all-in-one marketing solution that provides everything you need to successfully market your business online. From creating beautiful landing pages and funnels to driving traffic and engagement with powerful notification campaigns, WebPrimo has it all. And with its easy-to-use drag and drop editor and 300+ templates, you can create high-converting marketing campaigns without any design or tech skills.

WebPrimo is easy to use and comes with 300+ templates. Just sign up for a free account and you’ll be able to create your first marketing campaign in minutes. Plus, there’s no risk thanks to the 30-day money-back guarantee.

Some of the benefits of using WebPrimo include the following:

-It’s an all-in-one solution that provides everything you need to be successful
-It’s easy to use and comes with 300+ templates
-It’s mobile-friendly and fast loading
-It integrates with popular apps and services
-It comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee

How Does It Work?

WebPrimo Works In three simple steps.

Step 1: Choose Theme

The first step in creating a stunning and effective website is to choose the right theme. With so many options available, it can be hard to know where to start. However, by narrowing your focus to niche-specific themes, you can instantly create a more targeted and user-friendly website. Not only will this help you attract more leads, but it will also make it easier to close sales.

Step 2: Customize

Once you have selected the perfect theme, you can then begin to customize it to match your brand’s identity. With just a few clicks, you can upload your logo, select from a range of color schemes, and add SEO-rich content.

Step 3: Publish, Sell, and Profit

Finally, once your website is complete, you can publish it with just one click and start generating leads.

What Makes WebPrimo So Powerful?

WebPrimo is the ultimate marketing solution for busy entrepreneurs who want to get more done in less time. With WebPrimo, you can:

  • Create beautiful, mobile-friendly landing pages and funnels in minutes, without any design or tech skills
  • Drive traffic and engagement with powerful notification campaigns
  • Store and share business files securely with your clients and team members
  • Manage leads and monitor lead data for better results

WebPrimo is easy to use and comes with 300+ templates. Just sign up for a free account and you’ll be able to create your first marketing campaign in minutes. Plus, there’s no risk thanks to the 30-day money-back guarantee.WebPrimo is a great choice for businesses of all sizes. It’s an all-in-one solution that provides everything you need to be successful.

Since WebPrimo’s designs are more professional and optimized for conversions, it will help you get more leads and sales. With its powerful features, you can easily add call-to-actions, forms, and pop-ups to maximize conversions. Plus, with its built-in SEO features, you can make sure your website is ranking high in the search engines.

With WebPrimo, you can easily save time in website creation and store building and sell more to businesses. And because WebPrimo is constantly updated with new features, you can be sure that your website will always be up-to-date. So if you’re looking for a way to save time and money while still getting a high-quality website, WebPrimo is the perfect solution.

Source: https://www.scoopearth.com/webprimo

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The Future Of Sales And The Pervasiveness Of Technology

I was recently a guest speaker at the Sales Leadership Conference organized by Dr. Karen Peesker, Co-Founder of the Sales Leadership Institute, a department at the Toronto Metropolitan University (formally Ryerson University) in Toronto, Canada. The conference was hosted by IT World Canada, Microsoft, DHL, Rogers and other community leaders. The conference goals were to bring university professors, students, industry leaders, and academicians to share their learning programs, identify gaps and requirements to advance the sales profession and most importantly, tackle a vision for the future of sales.

The strongest theme of the conference was the business imperative for advancing digital literacy, data literacy and ensuring that technology was firmly embedded in all sales learning programs. Digital literacy is best defined as an individual’s ability to find, evaluate, and clearly communicate information and knowledge through using diverse digital platforms. It is best evaluated by an individual’s interaction skills with technology and includes: grammar, composition, typing skills and the ability to produce text, images, audio and designs using technology.

This point was acutely reinforced by Fawn Annan, the CEO of IT World Canada (ITWC), with her high impact video conference address, where she identified how pervasive technology is in shifting the global sales landscape. Her panoramic and rich perspectives highlighting how diverse technologies – AI, analytics, IoT, driverless cars – are collectively impacting the world of a sales professional at work, and in society.

Annan quoted Gartner Group’s research stating that “a seller’s decision making is now based more on data, analytics and AI, versus intuition and experience” – prior stable hallmarks of a sales professional. This means that sales professionals will need far more digital literacy and data literacy training to be able to function in a far more data centric world. Other key takeaways from this video included:

1.) Hyper automation is advancing a buyer’s sales journey, and that a seller only has 26 moments to engage and influence a buyer in his /her purchasing journey. In other words, finding the right moments is even more important in following the customer data crumbs.

2.) Consumers check their cell phones on average 47 times/day and these frequent check-in’s, according to Google, are referred to as micro-moments. Hence the increased value of AI driven advertising as well the increasing intrusion consumers feel in invading their privacy.

3.) Over 76% of consumers transact and ship on mobile devices, and this number is increasing year-over-year. Hence, sales professionals’ primary interaction devices must be mobile and portable.4.) Sales applications exist throughout the sales buyer’s journey and increasingly, they are AI applications. According to McKinsey, the fastest growing companies invest more in AI sales digital tools than slower growth companies. A major contributor of sales performance success is having a robust sales software infrastructure. Hence, companies must accelerate their investments in sales intelligence software toolkits for advancing competitive advantage.

5.) Annan profiled two companies in her video address: SalesChoice and RingCentral. SalesChoice’s focus is on accelerating the growth of sales professionals and is a comprehensive AI platform well known for its proven sales use cases. Solutions include:

· Predictive Opportunity Scoring (focusing on the best deals with highest probability of a win outcome),

· Predictive Sales Forecasting that are securing prediction levels of up to 95% accuracy,

· Monitoring your data to ensure the AI predictions are on solid foundations,

· Relationship intelligence, with their new alliance partner, IntroHive, to bring even more win or loss signals to the attention of sales professionals. Who would not want to buy software that can predict your future outcomes at the top of your funnel and predict a win or a loss on every sales deal outcome, and identify the depth and breadth of your customer relationships across your enterprise?

· Mood and Health Intelligence: SalesChoice is active in innovation research with the Ontario Center of Innovation (AVIN program) and Purolator, propagating the importance of health in advancing employee productivity, and reducing attrition. Did you know that according to Payscale, sales account management was ranked as the second most stressful job, with 73% of respondents rating the role as “highly stressful.” Salespeople are under a lot of pressure to meet quota, convert quickly, and keep approval rankings high.

So increasing health approaches are critical to ensure sales talent don’t burn out or give up. Estimates of annual turnover among U.S. salespeople run as high as 27%—twice the rate in the overall labor force. In many industries, the average tenure of a sales professionals is less than two years. Given that the costs to recruit a sales professional is 20% and the time it takes to ramp up a sales professional is around 9 months, you can see how expensive it is to not retain your sales talent.

AI can act like a crystal ball. With good data, the mathematical genius in an AI algorithm and computational power is like the holy grail to guide sales professionals to greater deal outcome success and hopefully to happier behaviors and positive win outcomes as well.

The second company profiled was Ring Central, where Annan highlighted their collaboration and call center solutions, using AI methods to optimize building more productive customer interactions. Leaders like Sheevaun Thatcher, are advancing sales modernization programs at Ring Central, integrated diverse disciplines from: Adult Learning, Interactive Design, Strategic Planning, Collaborative Leadership, Diversity and Inclusiveness and always connecting the dots seamlessly. If there is a leader to watch advancing the field of sales and learning enablement, it is Sheevaun Thatcher.

Annan consistently highlighted that having advanced AI solutions can make a major difference to your digital conversion success, and reinforced that the old tools of looking in the rear view mirror are simply yesterday’s approaches. Due to the rapid speed of our world’s changing footprint, having smarter and forward looking (predictive AI analytics) toolkits is the only way that companies can grow faster, and more importantly, survive.

Increased AI Sales Toolkits Knowledge and Competency is Key.

Educating sales professionals to be ready for a smarter AI focused workplace will require skills, knowledge and proficiency in using modernized toolkits. So sales training must offer hands-on and practical skills development in universities to hit the ground running and bring value to a company immediately upon hiring.

Companies that use AI for sales in pre-sales have seen a 50% boost in leads, a 60-70% reduction in call time, and a 40-60% cost reduction. Numerous toolkits are in the market identifying the ideal buyer prospect and even knowing the propensity (density) of a buyer’s interest in your solution. Knowing where you customer is in their buyer journey is an inflection point for engaging in a micro-moment. Leading solutions advancing leads using AI are profiled in this blog.

In addition to pre-sales, other AI approaches can be used in opportunity scoring, predictive forecasting, and even mood / health indicator correlated to win rates. These are all areas that SalesChoice, a former ITWC Digital Transformation Award recipient, has been pioneering in.

According to the 2021 Buyer Experience Study, 80% of SaaS buyers report the buying process has too many steps and results in frustration for both the buyers and sellers. Hence, what this means for developing sales training programs is that skills not relevant to technology will need to be balanced with those that are. For example, empathy and two-way listening is key. Strong sales professionals understand that a buyer comes to solve a specific problem and not to buy your product. Understanding your buyer’s need is key in order to find a path for resolving it rapidly and reducing buyer and seller friction.

Research has shown that identifying the needs of your buyer can shorten sales cycle by as much as 65%. Customers (buyers) are coming into sales cycles far more informed from online sources. Hence, sales professionals need to learn more consultation skills to unravel the customer’s needs using relevant problem solving skills, enabled with as much prior information on the buyer as the buyer has on the seller.

Increase Training on Collaboration and Selling Virtually

With continued reliance on working virtually, the sales professionals will need to use a variety of online sales toolkits, ranging from a leading CRM (HubSpot, Salesforce, Microsoft Dynamics, etc.,), calendar management system, and collaboration system (like Zoom, or Microsoft Teams) etc. Expertise for effective collaboration will need to include skills in emotional intelligence, written skills, video presence (posture, smiling vs frowning), and voice skills (how you sound impacts how people want to listen). Other key skills like relationship development are increasingly valued in our network economy as building trust online must be mastered in seconds to capture a conversion in a micro-moment exchange.

Increase Digital Literacy Skills

There are many skills in digital literacy – from being able to use software, operate a digital device, to the ability to manage complex cognitive, social, emotional and motor skills to function effectively in digital high-tech environments. Key areas in digital literacy for a sales professional will need to include: the ability to understand reading instructions in digital environments, create or analyze simple to complex graphical displays in user interfaces, use diverse visualization methods, extract knowledge from non-linear, hypertextual navigation, and ascertain the quality and the validity of the information that is being presented.

Increase Data Science and AI Skills

In our data rich world, it is imperative for sales professionals to develop stronger data literacy skills. Data literacy skills include the ability of a sales professional to identify, understand, operate on, and use data effectively. Gartner Group defines data literacy as “the ability to read, write and communicate data in context, including an understanding of data sources and constructs, analytical methods and techniques applied, and the ability to describe the use case, application and resulting value.

Further, data literacy is an underlying component of digital dexterity — an employee’s ability and desire to use existing and emerging technology to drive better business outcomes.” Gartner Group is predicting that by 2023, data literacy will become essential in driving business value, demonstrated by its formal inclusion in over 80% of data and analytics strategies and change management programs.

However, traditionally sales professionals possess stronger skills in relationship building, listening and understanding people’s emotional states. A recent survey found that out of over 7M sales professionals on Linkedin, only 0.4% indicated they had studied math. This mirrors my experience as well leading sales teams or building software for sales professionals. Data literacy is a major gap in sales and to bridge this gap, companies will need to invest in training sales professionals in math, statistics and AI general concepts. This also will shift the hiring profile as increasing digital literacy and data skills are imperative to lead in the changing data rich world.

Conclusion

The Sales Leadership Institute and the leadership of Dr. Karen Peesker is an excellent initiative that requires government and industry support, as close to 5% of the North American labour population is comprised of sales professionals. Sales is an important profession focused on selling a company’s products or services, and also one that manages the customer’s relationship from an account management perspective.

Skill development in digital literacy, data literacy, relationship intelligence, and not losing sight of the softer skills (communication, written and oral, and listening) are all critical to advance the sales profession and be prepared to compete in a world that, as Annan shared in her video address, is increasingly technology centric.

SalesChoice, an AI SaaS company focused on Ending Revenue Uncertainty and brining more Humanity to Sales to avoid attention deficit disorder using AI and Cognitive Sciences. A former Accenture, Xerox and Citicorp executive, she bridges governance, strategy and operations in her AI initiatives. She is also a board advisor of the Forbes School of Business and Technology, and the AI Forum. She is passionate about modernizing innovation with disruptive technologies (SaaS/Cloud, Smart Apps, AI, IoT, Robots and Cobots), with 14 books in the market, with The AI Dilemma just released. Follow her on Linked In or on Twitter or her Website. You can also access her at The AI Directory.

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Source: The Future Of Sales And The Pervasiveness Of Technology

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