It seems that just about every aspect of the food retailer’s universe has been evolving rapidly, most noticeably the guest experience and the impact that has on front-of-the-house technology. Smartphone usage by guests has been matched by advances in Cloud POS software as transformation finds its way to every order counter and steam table in the store.
Now it’s time for the back of the house. It’s time to re-imagine kitchen display.
No longer a black box hidden deep in the back of the operation, we like to think of the Kitchen Display System (KDS) like the engine room of the Starship Enterprise. Your KDS has the potential to provide a 360-degree view of a single food retailing operation, and by extension, the entire system-wide operation.
There are numerous channels and touchpoints you might want to track one day in this “digital dining dashboard.” Let’s talk about what is already possible and where things are likely to go next.
Web Connectivity is enabling corporate visibility deeply into operational details and broadly across the entire brand. KDS now allows operators to track demand and revenue across every channel: dine-in, drive-through, take-out and delivery.
Today’s digital dining dashboard is franchise friendly, and built for fast growing multi-unit operators to easily collect and share key franchise performance metrics. These intuitive systems permit new entrants to the industry to easily grasp the most important areas visually.
Communications with the Front of the House will be streamlined and paperless, providing a digital record and reducing errors along the way. Communication now extends all the way out to the guest: “Your order is up. Your order is next. Hold on while we add the fries.”
In the future, think of KDS as a You Tube video playing on a flat screen monitor. The new dashboard will be a training resource for prep, increasing consistency of product and less winging it.
The digital dining dashboard will be integrated with equipment, creating smart zones among a network of fryers and cookers, storage and staging warmers. Energy savings will come naturally once from this networking of sensors and equipment.
Inventory tracking will monitor ingredients from bulk all the way to finished meal, and eventually integrate with labeling for delivery, take-out and nutritional communication. Given the trend line, it’s possible Food Safety and traceability will be integrated into these systems, with networked sensors and visualized checklists displayed alongside orders.
Eventually, you will see your KDS/Digital Dining Dashboard integrated with your guests, regardless of their location inside or outside your store. Advances in Virtual Reality and Alternative Reality might mean the KDS is a wearable for a store manager or store lead.
Perhaps not all these predictions will come to pass. Multi-unit operators will need to match the technological sophistication of their guests, which means POS Software for restaurants will be need to be right in the middle of every conversation and transaction.