Restaurants tend to rely more heavily on technology than businesses in other verticals, with many having already adopted cloud-based POS and digital tools for marketing and promotion. But one area where restaurant owners are still struggling is inventory management — that is, predicting how many diners will show up at a given time and how much food they’ll consume. According to a recent survey by the National Restaurant Association, 53% of restaurant owners would implement predictive ordering technology if it were available.
What these restaurant owners don’t realize is that a number of hyperlocal platforms are already offering predictive ordering solutions, at least to a certain degree. Tying together weather and major events with historical data from their existing POS systems, predictive ordering platforms can help restaurants prevent shortages and avoid over-buying perishable foods.
Here are five examples of predictive ordering platforms available for restaurants right now.
1. Livelenz: Improving restaurant performance with hourly targets
Livelenz integrates with existing POS systems to help restaurant owners more accurately monitor sales, food costs, labor costs, and staffing overages. Using the platform’s LiveAnalytics tool, restaurants can predict which ingredients will be sold, and at which levels, during the upcoming week. LiveAnalytics provides these insights based on previous sales data, recipe data, and its own algorithms. Managers are also provided with a list of “recommended actions” to ensure their perishable inventory is being managed correctly, such as a daily count of the most expensive ingredients. A Basic pricing package starts at $3 per location, per day.
2. Upserve: Smarter restaurant management
Upserve provides restaurant owners with the data they need to help their businesses run more efficiently. Upserve’s dashboard shows how many guests are predicted on a given night and fills servers in on anything they should know about the preferences of each night’s VIP customers. Kitchen staff can see which menu items have been popular with the night’s repeat guests, allowing managers to make last minute changes to the menu based on inventory and customer data. Upserve also uses the data it collects from reservations, past sales, holidays, weather, and more than 20 other factors to generate accurate ordering and sales predictions. Upserve’s Core package costs $99 per month, per location.
3. Avero: Using data to make intelligent decisions
A restaurant analytics platform that provides benchmarking across all of a business’ outlets, Avero evaluates each team’s strengths and weaknesses. It also provides actions for managers to take in order to improve their performance. For example, managers can use the Prep Calculator to automatically track historical trends and forecast the right purchasing levels. Historical data should help managers predict how current promotions will impact sales and pinpoint exactly what drives higher check prices. Avero can help managers optimize their menus to get rid of perishable ingredients before they go to waste, as well. Avero offers customizable pricing options.
4. PeachWorks: Managing recipes to calculate inventory usage
PeachWorks integrates with a restaurant’s current technology systems to help owners and managers better understand their own inventory, sales, and food costs. The inventory module gives managers a place to track the ingredients on their shelves and then compare current inventory levels to theoretical usage based on past sales. When they upload specific recipe information to the platform’s Recipes app, and integrate PeachWorks with their existing POS systems, managers can automatically predict inventory usage based on theoretical sales. Usage reports also calculate the cost of sales and margins for each menu item. Restaurants can contact PeachWorks for specific pricing information.
5. Toast: See how top menu items contribute to sales
Toast is a POS system that was built for restaurants. It was designed to include a cloud-based platform where users can manage online ordering, customer information, loyalty, gift cards, and partnerships. Managers can update their menus on the fly through Toast’s mobile app, and servers can let diners know immediately when certain dishes are sold out. Toast’s sales report dashboard gives users an overview of all the transactions during a given time period, along with a breakdown of service types and payment methods. Managers can review their guest preferences to make smarter purchasing decisions and they can identify popular menu items through Toast’s product mix reports. Toast’s Core Software package starts at $100 per month.
Know of other predictive ordering platforms for restaurants? Leave a description in the comments.
Stephanie Miles is a senior editor at Street Fight.