As consumers expect more, and technology can do more, tech solutions in the quick service restaurant and retail industries are getting more and more complex: ordering kiosks, interactive digital signage, alternative payments, curbside pickup, and on and on. Many of these solutions are delivering benefits that satisfy both the customer and the bottom line.
But only when they work. Often these solutions involve multiple vendors and a fair bit of integration, and as a result, there is much more room for error, both in implementation and in ongoing support. For example, parts are delayed or missing on installation day, unexpected field issues drive up costs, support proves inadequate, or vendors end up pointing to each other as the cause of a disruptive issue.
That’s why, more than ever before, choosing the right tech partners is critical to maximizing the impact and effectiveness of today’s complex IT solutions. When multiple products from multiple vendors must all arrive at the same time, be skillfully integrated together, deliver reliable service and be quickly diagnosed and returned to service when one part of the solution fails, it’s not enough to leave the selection of those vendors to chance.
These tips will help ensure QSRs and retailers are leveraging the collective expertise and capability of their chosen partners to maximum benefit.
- Don’t assume it’s all mix and match. While most vendors adopt industry standards, some vendors’ solutions still come together more seamlessly than others. Selecting partners from within a chosen vendor’s ecosystem helps ensure a more frictionless project.
- Think about support first. Multi-vendor solutions require first identifying the source of the issue, then solving it. So QSRs and retailers need an installation and support provider with expertise across products. This is the vendor they will rely on through the lifespan of a solution, and should therefore be selected long before rollout time; ideally, they are engaged to help create the solution with deep product knowledge and experience with what works.
- Aim for a fast, clean rollout. It’s tempting to ship components right to the store for integration and installation on the spot. But that often means missing parts, shipment delays, space constraints, on-the-spot troubleshooting, and issues such as DOAs that drive up costs and extend timelines. An experienced integrator leverages time-tested, proof of concept methodologies and quality control processes to stage, test and ship solutions with 100% accuracy. That minimizes time and costs in the store to keep rollouts on schedule.
- Consider logistics. Ensuring every component of a solution arrives accurately and at just the right moment takes a lot of coordination. It also forces the buyer to purchase in waves rather than saving through bulk purchases. A fast, smooth rollout requires access to supply chain, storage and logistics talent and the ability to coordinate across multiple vendors and distributors.
- Plan for how the solution will be managed. In the day-to-day use of the new solution, QSRs and retailers will need help registering and managing warranties as well as knowledgeably diagnosing which component of a multi-vendor solution is at fault and then arranging repair, remotely, on-site or via depot. This is another instance where working within a group of vendors and integrators that communicate well can make a huge impact on cutting downtime and getting solutions back in service.
Technology has made huge strides in enabling quick service restaurants and retailers to deliver engaging, satisfying customer experiences. But every solution is only as good as its components, which must work together seamlessly from pre-installation all the way through their lifespan. Considering how the pieces work together, and who integrates, deploys and maintains them – is a critical step in ensuring today’s advanced technologies truly deliver on their goals.