The Gray Cat Blog

A comprehensive collection of blogs designed to assist small business owners and multiunit operators.

Know the Full Advantages of Foodservice Technology

Feb 06, 2023

With every passing day, month and year, better for you foodservice options continue to infiltrate the convenience store industry.  Slowly but surely, the convenience store industry is broadening its foodservice options for customers that rival restaurants.  In fact, according to Nation’s Restaurant News“Wawa, Sheetz, Casey’s General Store, 7-Eleven and Circle K” have now cracked their 2018 Top 100 restaurant report.  That is quite the achievement for the c-store industry.  

It is only a natural progression that technology is continuing to change the face of foodservice in c-stores as well through the implementation of ordering kiosks and mobile ordering.  Much like the restaurant industry, convenience store operators are embracing technology to help them achieve the following:

Speed of Service: The use of technology to manage the repetitive task of order taking is one of the best ways to speed the process.  This allows you to focus on producing a high-quality product in a shorter amount of time while delivering great service to the customer.  No one likes to wait – a faster process means happier customers.

Order Accuracy: The possibility for miscommunication between you and the customer is eliminated.   Customers can review their order as they place it and make any changes before the order is submitted to the kitchen.  Not only do inaccurate orders lead to waste, but they also annoy the customer.

Choice: The touch screen or mobile app clearly communicates all available options and specials in an easily understood, step-by-step process. In addition, after placing their order, the customer can browse the store or mobile device for additional items.

That being said, going from here-to-there on implementing a new technology platform can be a daunting task involving a whole slew of teams and go-forward platform decisions.  Here is an outline of the key steps to implementing an in-store kiosk and/or mobile device platform:

Identify the Team: It all starts with Executive Sponsorship (buy-in is critical) then the Project Management team takes it from there. Included on the team should be the following:

  • Store Operations/Process  
  • Food Services 
  • Marketing 
  • Technical Experts & Support Desk 
  • Installers
  • Store Staff & Ambassadors
  • Facilities 
  • Financial 
  • Legal

Operational Processes: Next up is to identify how things will work in a store – the logistics of the operation.  Each of these items must be vetted to seamlessly integrate the technology option into today’s operations:

  • Current order/make/buy process mapping
  • Future order/make/buy process mapping 
  • Receipt as order confirmation vehicle 
  • Device placement; kiosks and kitchen production system
  • Price book coordination 
  • Customer messaging 
  • Store staff messaging 
  • Facilities considerations: placement, power, and networks 

Technical Processes: Once the operational processes have been mapped, identifying the technical connectivity items to support these activities is next. The customer will be front and center in this discussion to ensure that whatever path they take – whether on an in-store kiosk or through their mobile device – is accounted for.

  • Current store technology platform
  • Store connectivity – capacity and timeline 
  • Vendor connectivity 
  • Item/Item Description/PLU list 
  • Integration point with POS
  • Art file list/transfer 
  • Hardware and software support process

Marketing: Once the solutions are built and operational, next up on the list is how should we identify and promote this new concept.

  • What do we call this “New Thing”?
  • In-store promotion materials 
  • “Startup Offer” incentive
  • Coordination with web site development 

Financial: Lastly, what are the metrics that will be monitoring that gauge the success of our rollout?  It is important to develop a pre-project Proforma as well as implementation success metrics.

  • Key Performance Indicator (KPI’s) development
  • Evaluation agreement 
  • Services purchase order
  • Hosting purchase order 

The convenience store industry has made tremendous strides in the past decade and is poised to continue to prosper as it becomes more heavily involved in foodservice.  Better for you items combined with a technology platform such as in-store kiosks or mobile device ordering will continue to attract more and more customers – especially from the quick service restaurants.  The race for “share of stomach” is on!

Want more ideas?  For more information on Foodservice Initiatives, visit the Gray Cat Learning Series:

John Matthews, President & CEO, Gray Cat Enterprises, Inc.

John Matthews is the Founder and President of Gray Cat Enterprises, Inc. a Raleigh, NC-based management consulting company. Gray Cat specializes in strategic project management and consulting for multi-unit operations; interim executive management; and strategic planning. Mr. Matthews has over 30 years of senior-level executive experience in the retail industry, involving three dynamic multi-unit companies. Mr. Matthews experience includes President of Jimmy John's Gourmet Sandwiches; Vice President of Marketing, Merchandising, Corporate Communications, Facilities and Real Estate for Clark Retail Enterprises/White Hen Pantry; and National Marketing Director at Little Caesar's Pizza! Pizza!