By Tracy Morin
Editor’s Note: PMQ is committed to providing readers with the most up-to-date information on POS innovations in the pizzeria industry. With so many excellent POS providers to choose from, it was impossible to interview all of them for this story. Instead, we have interviewed three knowledgeable sources, who agreed to provide their insights without attribution to preserve PMQ’s objectivity and eliminate any appearance of favoritism. For more information and a complete list of the industry’s POS providers, visit our Online Ordering Solutions Center at PMQ.com/pizzamarketing.
According to a recent PMQ survey of its readers, pizzeria operators enjoy many business-streamlining aspects of their POS systems, including the ability to track sales, labor and customer behavior, integrate online ordering and marketing, minimize errors, and increase efficiency, all while being user-friendly for owners and employees alike.
And, in today’s landscape—when so much of ordering revolves around delivery and carryout—POS systems can be crucial for creating a seamless experience for both operators and customers. Recently, we asked three major POS providers to give us the scoop on the latest features and benefits that can help—and how operators can use them to their best advantage.
Provider A: POS as the Tech Epicenter
Pizza, by nature, presents unique and complex scenarios—phone and online orders, customer management, integrated loyalty programs, various pricing structures, drivers and servers, calculating service charges, and more. What’s happening now, and the trend for the future, is that pizzerias are looking at their operations like a Domino’s, which views itself as a technology company. Individual features of a POS system are like grains of sand—but you have to think of your POS as the entire technological space of a pizzeria’s operation, as one business management system. Look at your business with POS at the central focal point to create one cohesive unit, from marketing to curbside delivery.
There are some great apps out there, but you want them to integrate with the POS. With the POS offering a technological overview of your operation, you can look at your personal strengths and weaknesses, and tie together so many facets of your business. You want to have everything automated. For example, marketing has to be consistent and persistent. You want to have scheduling, inventory, integrated phone systems, and credit card processing for online, in-person, phone, and future or catering orders. Pizzeria owners are more interested in not just the typical functions, but asking, “What else can the POS do that I’m not good at?”
The pizzeria owner’s No. 1 problem today is labor, so you can accommodate that through POS-driven automation. What’s most important now: an online ordering system, smooth and seamless phone orders, and loyalty and rewards programs. With tables in-store operating at 50%, what will you do to work your kitchen at full capacity through phone and online orders? You want to attract people for the first time, then get them to order more often. And getting orders succinctly—that is what a POS can do, while reducing labor and overhead costs. Don’t be afraid to invest in your business with a great system; it’ll generate more revenue in the long run.
Ultimately, look at your entire entity and figure out how technology can help you. We want to give independents and small chains the tools to act like the big boys.
Provider B: Focus On Delivery
Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve had a huge focus on the pizza industry and delivery specifically, which is even more important now. Today, even operations that never offered delivery have had to add it, and that requires many additional POS features: mapping, dispatching, emails sent to drivers with delivery instructions, and email updates to customers. Also, heat maps allow you to see the types of orders and money spent, so you can get an idea of what your delivery area is. Making sure online ordering works directly with the POS, with features that keep customers’ information safe, is very important. Safety features (using user IDs, swipe cards or biometrics to log in) also allow you to see who’s in the system at all times.
As many pizzerias now do their own delivery as well as offer third-party delivery, you want to track drivers both in-store and out-of-store, and track delivery times. A POS system can provide drivers with directions and calculate the best routes and mileage.
Some major things to look for in your POS system include calculating inventory, delivery, communications with customers, managing the back end, and online ordering. You also want a system that allows you to integrate with other systems to keep up with future innovations. For example, five years ago, people weren’t even looking at third-party ordering. Look at what you’re offering now and what you see coming in the next five years, because you don’t want to have to change your system later.
You also must have a customer database to track buying info; have a loyalty program capability; generate reporting to see stats on your best sellers and food cost margins; and the ability to offer custom messaging (like when it’s a customer’s birthday or they haven’t visited in 60 or 90 days), so the pizzeria can send them direct mail to attract them back.
Provider C: The Importance of a Digital Presence
A lot of trends in our industry were happening before COVID-19, like the “convenience is king” approach when getting out product to your customer. But now, POS systems are incorporating curbside pickup features to help smaller operators compete with larger chains. Messaging customers is key, so that pizzerias can send a link and customers can alert the pizzeria when they arrive—it’s a more contactless, less in-store approach.
Delivery is also key, either natively or third-party. The better POS solutions will be able to recreate the customer experience they’ve become accustomed to with third parties, which have extremely convenient and easy-to-use apps. But there is app fatigue out there, so it’s about creating a mobile-friendly, convenient and easy-to-use online ordering experience on your website, while customers are still able to contact the restaurant and be alerted on the progress of the order. Customers want to see the driver and get updated ETAs to eliminate that waiting anxiety. You want a POS system that pushes toward automation to incorporate all of these streams of revenue in a native solution—without needing a bunch of outside parties. It’s creating a business within your business now, and it’s not going away for the foreseeable future.
Customers will often lean toward convenience over quality, and POS systems are starting to answer those needs. Your digital presence is now your first impression—it’s not someone walking in the door. Through loyalty programs, curbside pickup, online ordering, catering programs and kiosks, these are customers who are signing up to work with your business. Now you own that data, and that is key to the success of your business—understanding their buying trends so you can specifically market to them. You also want to track inventory, see your top-10 items, and monitor costs and controls, since things fluctuate greatly. You want to monitor how you’re performing or get notified if you’re low in stock, for example.
Finally, customers want to go to your website, they want you to know what they order, and they want to keep notified every step of the way. On the employee side, interaction is key, too, as employees may handle a variety of jobs now. Choosing a POS that is intuitive and easy to use, with very little training, is especially key now.
Tracy Morin is PMQ’s senior copy editor.
- POS Provider B recently conducted a survey among its customers to highlight some key operational changes in the wake of COVID-19—and why it’s important for POS systems to meet these new needs. Some highlights of the survey:
- 65% added a contactless delivery option, where customers prepay and have their deliveries placed at a preselected location for them to collect. Of those surveyed that added contactless delivery, 54% of them saw an increase in sales.
- More than half of the restaurants surveyed reported that their sales increased following the COVID-19 pandemic.
- 60% offered curbside pickup, where customers can wait in their cars for their takeout orders. Of those that added curbside pickup, 51% saw an increase in sales.
- 57% offered delivery only using their in-house drivers, and 37% offered delivery using both in-house drivers and third-party sites. Of those surveyed, more pizzerias that offer delivery in-house saw an increase in sales than those that don’t.
- Only 6% of pizzerias surveyed don’t charge for delivery, while 94% charge for delivery in some way. They use either a flat rate (60%) or base it on delivery zones (34%).
- 68% of pizzerias surveyed have between one and five delivery drivers on a busy night, and 86% reported Fridays as their busiest night.