Standing in line at McDonalds last week, I was struck by how quickly things have changed in the QSR industry in a short time.
McDonalds now offers table service for smartphone orders; large, touchscreen ordering screens; and they accept job applications by Snapchat. It would all have sounded impossibly futuristic 15 years ago. Fast food has been a lot quicker to embrace change than other parts of the catering industry. They’re faster all round, but corporate catering companies are beginning to following suit.
While B2C customers see continuous rapid tech progress in catering, B2B customers have largely been left behind - but this is changing.
The right time
Investing in technology, whether it’s a new laptop or a software system for a whole company, is always susceptible to postponement. The temptation is to wait for now, knowing that the technology will improve and reduce in cost.
With increases to pay scales, soaring rents and business rate hikes around the corner, improving systems is often an investment that gets delayed. But in this environment, efficiency is more important than ever for caterers.
When we started Spoonfed, we saw a lot of B2B caterers using pen and paper. Technology was neglected in favour of manual systems that, despite being error-prone and inefficient, were held onto, being familiar ground.
In recent years, we’ve seen major US Food Service Management and Retail brands embrace technology, benefiting from the incremental revenue streams that come with corporate catering. Now we’re seeing the same change in the UK, with big brands like Benugo and Birley adopting software to automate their processes.
Customers vs Staff?
In a recent article on LinkedIn, Alex Hobbs, a VP with QSR mobile app platform Pepper, wrote about how technology will be key to solving catering challenges in 2017. He mentioned the perceived choice between consumers and employees as the focus of any technology investment. Many companies researching software will assume that they need to choose between a system that makes things easier for staff, improving their work environment, or one that makes it easy for customers to order.
One of the reasons that Spoonfed has been getting such positive feedback is that we approach the challenge from both sides. Our system makes it simple and convenient for B2B customers to order, while removing the stress from running corporate catering for employees.
2017 is shaping up to be a challenging year in the catering industry - an environment in which the less efficient caterers will feel the strain. Despite the challenges, we’ve seen Spoonfed users go from strength to strength. In March 2017 we saw an average increase of 25% in Spoonfed customers’ order numbers on the previous year, and their total order values increased 32%. We’re confident that whatever political and economic shifts the year holds in store, our customers are well positioned to remain competitive.