Foodservice Equipment & Supplies

ALIWORLD 2019

Foodservice Equipment & Supplies magazines is an industry resource connecting foodservice operators, equipment and supplies manufacturers and dealers, and facility design consultants.

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11 Multi-unit operators such as Domino's, Starbucks and Panera Bread have paved the way, introducing a new generation of tech- savvy guests to conveniences such as online and mobile-app order and pay, voice-activated ordering, curbside and in-store express pickup, self-serve kiosks, and enhanced delivery (even testing self-driving cars and drones). Consumers have rewarded these operators for their efforts, both in increased engagement and solid sales growth during what has been an essentially flat foodservice market for the past several years. Panera Bread, for example, which rolled out its technology-rich Panera 2.0 initiative in 2014, had passed the $1 billion mark, or 26 percent of sales, via digital channels at the time of its acquisition in July 2017 by JAB Holdings. In its last reportable quarter as a publicly traded company (Q1 2017), Panera showed same-store sales growth of 5.3 percent in corporate stores, outperforming the Black Box all-industry composite by 690 basis points. The company predicted at the time that digital sales could double by 2019 and has since completed rollout of delivery nationwide. Legions of other brands large and small con- tinue to follow suit, launching digital and opera- tional initiatives to cash in on growing consumer demands for anywhere-, anytime-, any-way- they-want-it restaurant-quality foodservice. Imagine, for example, that just three years ago, almost all orders at McDonald's U.S. restau- rants were placed by guests in one of two ways: interacting with a cashier behind a counter or speaking into a drive-thru intercom. Today, the fast-food giant and original standard bearer for convenience helps redefine what that means. The company continues to roll out its new "Experience of the Future" program, convert- ing or building new restau- rants to the tune of 1,000 units per quarter in which technologies and services such as self-service kiosks; mobile app ordering with in-store, drive-thru or curbside pickup; geolocation; and delivery via third-party partners feature prominently. McDonald's smartphone app, introduced in 2017, has more than 20 million registered us- ers, a download rate fueled in part by a hugely popular loy- alty program. By the summer of this year, more than 10,000 U.S. McDonald's restaurants will offer delivery. Subway, too, is raising the stakes on technol- ogy and convenience. As part of a 2017 proto- type redesign dubbed Fresh Forward, the global sandwich chain introduced self-service kiosks and pickup stations for to-go and delivery orders placed via smartphone app or chatbot. Subway's app, which went live in 2015 and has nearly 30,000 down- loads, lets customers easily find the nearest Subway unit; order ahead for ex- press pickup or deliv- ery, where available; customize, name and save favorite orders; access promotional dis- counts; and pay via smartphone using a pre-loaded Subway card or credit card. "Consumer expectations are changing. They want convenience and more options for convenience, but they also want high quality. We need to be proactive about meet- ing those expectations," notes Frank Chetcuti, operations project manager at Subway. When it comes to delivery, which all franchisees have the option of offering, manag- ing the last mile to ensure individual Subway customers and catering clients receive the same quality sandwiches that they do when visit- ing the stores is mission critical. To that end, Subway recently partnered with Ali Group company Metro, a global manufacturer and dis- tributor of cabinets, carts and shelving, to de- velop a custom Mightyliteâ„¢ transport cabinet. The lightweight cabinet, manufactured from expanded polypropylene, maintains product temperatures for extended periods and comes with three slide-in basket trays, each of which can hold up to 6 foot-long or 12 6-inch subs securely during delivery. "The beauty of the unit is that it allows us to deliver hot and cold subs in the same carrier," To help ensure quality as well as convenience, Subway called on Metro to develop custom-branded transport cabinets that maintain both hot and cold sandwich temperatures during delivery or for in-store pickup orders.

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