In the tech world, the word “cloud” has become ubiquitous, but what does it really mean and where does it fit within the foodservice industry? It turns out cloud services can streamline many parts of a restaurant’s business, making it easier for owners to keep track of sales and labour costs — even when away from the restaurant. “Labour is one of the biggest costs a restaurant will incur,” says Jeremy Julian, COO of Custom Business Solutions, Inc. (CBS) — a provider of cloud-based POS solutions. “By keeping a close eye on sales numbers and labour reports, restaurant owners can scale labour accordingly.” Cloud computing involves the connection of multiple computers over the Internet, which enables stored files to be accessible from all connected computers. The files are typically saved on the cloud-service provider’s hard drives so any client with access to the Internet can open, edit and save those files. “It’s called ‘the cloud’ because all you have to do is direct your browser or device to a certain URL and you have access to all of your information,” Julian explains. “You could be on your work PC, phone, tablet, or any Internet-enabled device and have access to your information. All you need is a login and password.”
A cloud-based POS system allows operators to track and record purchases, which are saved instantly in the cloud and are viewable, remotely. This means owners can track guests’ spending habits in order to extract valuable trends — such as the most popular menu items — without physically being in the restaurant. Aside from transaction history, cloud services can record further data such as inventory tracking, employee scheduling and sales records.
Armed with this data, operators can more accurately target their demographic with specialized sales and promotions. “When it comes to promotions or sales, business owners often struggle keeping track of the duration and specifications, especially if they have multiple deals running at once,” says Nicole Bryan of Sterling Payment Technologies — a payment-processing company based in Tampa, Fla. “If these promotions and sales are not tracked properly, that could mean loss of profit or customers for a restaurant. A cloud-based system will keep track of the promotions and profits, making it possible to provide the best customer service and accuracy.”
Furthermore, cloud-based services help to reduce labour costs. According to research conducted by CBS, restaurants often suffer from unrecorded or inaccurately recorded sales, especially during peak hours when the propensity for human error is significantly greater. Cloud systems eliminate the problem by automatically recording and saving all sales, thereby improving operators’ profitability.
Finally, cloud-based services help prevent data loss. Since data is stored online, operators are no longer at the mercy of their physical computer systems inside the restaurant. If their local hard drives fail or are physically damaged, data is safely stored remotely with the service provider. In fact, most cloud-based systems store multiple backups of files in numerous physical locations — something operators cannot achieve with locally stored data. As Huffington Post tech columnist, Shane Paul Neil, puts it, “Your data is better off in the cloud.”
Written by Eric Alister