Restaurant Tech Product of 2017

In 2016 we pushed a big innovation to the hospitality tech space with the first iteration of our smart menu solution following 18 months of development. Even today this is considered by most restaurant managers to be too “out there” as they prefer to stick to the paper menus they know. The change will happen, we just need to wait for it.

The idea was to unlock real-time information from the customer to the back of house areas like the kitchen and bar. We quickly recognized that the bottleneck had just moved one step further down the chain to the waiters, who were still not “connected” with the orders silently and efficiently shuffled by NextMenu behind their back.

The need for specialized wearables was clear as no waiter would want to check a smartphone from their pocket while already having both hands full. We quickly threw together solution based on a Sony WiFi-enabled Smart-Watch and that was huge step forward. Waiters would immediately receive a discrete buzz on their wrists as soon as something was ready from the kitchen or a customer requested assistance, even if they were out of sight around a corner.

But we knew that strategically we could do much better. NextMenu has more real-time information about what is going on in a venue than any POS system but that is only really valuable if we can show what, when, where and how is needed.

Enter Augmented Reality Glasses.

NextMenu_AR_Glasses

Displaying the same notification as on the Smart-Watch is of course a no-brainer but now the waiter doesn’t even have to look at the watch. The really interesting part is to train visual markers for the glasses to act as triggers to retrieve and present specific context-relevant information from NextMenu. So we built a solution for exactly that.

We will list two sample use cases. The first one is a Table Overview that presents status of the ordered items for a table based on a visual marker physically located near a table. In our example we use A5 paper sized QR code that can be detected from 1.5 meters.

NextMenu-AR_TableOverview

The second use case is an Action Dashboard hidden behind a large mosaic image that can be detected from 5 meters. This shows waiters the outstanding actions grouped by table and ordered by the oldest action (most likely to generate an angry customer).

NextMenu-AR_DispatchDashboard_1

NextMenu-AR_DispatchDashboard_2

You can find a video of the full pitch and the full slides with or without notes below:

NextMenu-AR_Annotated-Slides

NextMenu-AR_Raw-Slides

We technically missed out on the winning prize to FingoPay, a great ID verification tool, but otherwise a generic payment technology product rather than a focused restaurant technology product. Discounting that, for all practical purposes we are happy to claim that the NextMenu Augmented Reality Solution for Waiters is the true Restaurant Tech Product of the Year 2017.

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With the solution having received a fair amount of buzz and excitement at our stand, what is left is the search for the innovation-hungry Restaurant IT Managers and CIOs who see eye-to-eye with our vision and are willing to work with us to shape this product into a real game changer for waiters by 2020.

If that happens to be you, please get in touch. 🙂

 

All I want is a smoked salmon focaccia

How do you increase sales? You can increase prices – but we know what your customers will think of that.

So you increase the volume of sales – how?

One way is to use new technologies to speed up the ordering process. A digital kiosk represents a new way to unlock revenue for quick service restaurants and cafés. Offering customers the ability to order straight to the kitchen, they can also be run alongside existing staff-operated EPOS.

You’ve already seen McDonald’s enjoy these benefits. Now NextMenu offers a solution for those without the big budget to build their own system. And you get the best of both worlds since NextMenu is customised to match your venue’s design.

Why is digital faster? Well, first of all, it’s faster because you can open more tills. Kiosks may cost more than staff initially, but over the course of a year they’re in different leagues – especially with the Living Wage. Say hello to double the number of points of sale and more orders at your crucial peak times.

Secondly, just think through the process. How many times have you been in a queue for what feels like an eternity – time enough to compose a poem about your smoked salmon on focaccia – only for the person in front of you only to start umming and ahhing about their order the moment they reach the till. The staff member feels the pressure of a lengthening queue and you feel exasperated. With a digital kiosk there’s no messing around. People can’t interrogate the poor lady at the till about things they’re not planning to order. It’s tap, tap, pay…and boom it goes straight to the kitchen.

An added bonus is the data. Whether orders are actually faster today than yesterday is no longer a question of guesswork. All the data can be captured, monitored in real time and then reviewed. So if Gordon is slower than Jamie, or the mochas are holding up the flat whites, you’ll be able to act on it.

‘But this is too much hassle! It’s just one more electronic device to go wrong!’ you may cry. Well. I’m not saying NextMenu could never go wrong. But I’d take it any day over human error multiplied by a twenty-year-old EPOS.

Most of all, to increase sales you have to give customers what they want. And that’s not queueing. It’s not the decor. It’s just a smoked salmon focaccia because that’s what they came in for.

To find out what NextMenu could do for your venue get in touch over email here.

Longer lasting lunches

Lunch typically lasts an hour, perhaps two. But what if it were longer? What if restaurants’ real estate and staff could be productive for four hours instead?

Step in digital menus. Restaurants can smooth the lunchtime peak effortlessly by offering customers discounts and complimentary gifts.

The issue is particularly pertinent in the City of London. Staff and property costs are high. And there are vast numbers of office workers on the floors above the restaurants. Persuading some them to move lunch forwards by half an hour with a free coffee could prove lucrative.

We at NextMenu are working on the concept with tablet-based menus.

Incentivising customers to come before 12.30 and after 1.30 has real value. Service is less stretched and the atmosphere is pleasant: quieter than busy lunchtimes but still not the mid-afternoon graveyard. Customers may well feel more at ease to order dessert or another drink.

So we want to lengthen our lunchtime. How do we go about it?

Today, a special offer requires design, printing EPOS modification and staff training. It’s an effort to try a special offer and a pain if it’s ineffective.

Tomorrow, the digital menu makes the process painless. The online dashboard will allow managers to switch offers on and off at will – just like scheduling a meeting. And with the level of data a connected restaurant captures, they will be able to see results what and what doesn’t with unprecedented detail and accuracy.

So if your early lunch discount doesn’t work, you can try a late lunch complimentary prosecco offer – without throwing away any leaflets. And If it does work, you can roll it out every day of the week – without printing any more leaflets.

While digital menus may not be for everyone, the increasingly digital-savvy young professional is unlikely to be put off. As the market continues to heat up digital menus may be the competitive advantage successful restaurants are looking for.

The 7 Ways of Catching a Waiter’s Attention

1. The Awkward Wave

A classic.

Lift your hand to anywhere around head-height, probably while timidly trying to smile and make eye contact with the waiter…and voilĂ ! That’s attempt number one. Keep going – this tends to only work after a couple of attempts.

 

2. The Eyebrow Raise

Works best on staff who moonlight as ninjas.

 

3. The Loud and Proud

Everyone’s dad is this one.
It gets the job done, but now the whole restaurant knows that you didn’t ask for anchovies and had asked for olives instead.

will ferrell salmon food restaurant order

4. The Praying Mantis

You wait. You watch. You spring and you catch the waiter! ‘Peroni! Another Peroni!’

animals fly gotcha standoff praying mantis

5. The Ask Another Customer

‘Excuse me, does this have nuts in?’
‘I don’t work here mate.’

Well it’s a risk you take coming to a restaurant dressed the same way as the staff.

(This situation is occasionally saved your fellow customer takes no offence and valiantly takes up your cause, flagging down a waiter themselves.)

awkward

6. The I’m-Taking-Things-Into-My-Own-Hands

This one comes most frequently towards the end of the meal when you’re keen to get out in time for the theatre. Normally it only goes as far as getting up to find the right person. But I’ve heard of people just grabbing the card machine themselves to move things along a bit.

help

 

7. The NextMenu Way

With NextMenu you can call a waiter or place an order on your menu tablet.

Picture the scene: You begin a story. You feel that a gesturing with a glass of Côte de Nuits would somehow add flair. Press a button. Continue story. Glass of wine arrives. Finish story with panache.

thrilling reaction happy excited smiling

 

Or maybe you’re adamant that the secret ingredient in the burger is harissa and your other half simply cannot see it. You call the waiter with the press of a button, continue expounding why your taste buds are so finely attuned this sort of thing, and are then proven wrong by the waiter. Ah well.

rhonj real housewives of new jersey oh well real housewives of nj siggy flicker

 

 

To find out more about how NextMenu can make life easier for your customers, see http://www.nextmenu.com or pop us an email at contact@ngi.systems

Hello world!

Welcome to the NextMenu blog.  We’re still moving in so please excuse the cardboard boxes and mind out for the wet paint.

NextMenu is a digital menu, a customer-driven mobile point of sale and an integrated restaurant communication tool all in one. The blog will be for us to talk about some of our ideas and the product. And crucially for you, the reader, to talk back if you want, to tell us what we’ve got right, where we’re wrong and what we’re missing.

If you want to get in touch via email, ping one over to contact@ngi.systems.