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The risk of dying of success with the new digital model


A few days ago I visited London, one of the most disturbing cities in the world and an epicenter of new trends in foodservice, where I could see how, in its crowded cafes, many customers already place their orders via mobile phone and pay with the same device with absolute normality. So much so that in most cases, the queues with a digital traceability it is far more crowded than those caused by natural traffic or step-site.

This led me to reflect on the impact that the new digital model is having on many hospitality businesses, and how to manage this new scenario is essential to optimize space in the establishments and prevent “bottleneck” negative impact on the overall performance of the business itself, during this process digital transition.

In September 2015, Starbucks, one of the world's major coffee chains, officially launched its service “Mobile Order & Pay on the Starbucks”. Basically it consists of the possibility of order and pay via a mobile application and later collect your order at the selected store, without having to wait queue.

Customers can order those global products or those that are specific to each geographical area or each store, including nutrition information in order to customize the most of your product. The system It is available for both iOS and Android users, and the goal is the delivery time around three to five minutes.

But last March, during the annual meeting of shareholders, the company had to recognize that the successful use of this system is causing a huge congestion of customers in their stores during peak hours. these jams They are negatively affecting sales of many of its stores.

Specific, sales at stores open at least a year only they grew 3% in the first trimester, representing a 7% less when compared to the same period last year.

Payment through mobile and represents for Starbucks 20% transaction in United States, and ordering system moving over 8% of sales.

And is that when compared with other processes fully digitized, such as buying a book or music, in our sector is a crucial difference because one of the fundamental parts of the experience of the customer always happens at face. This occurs both in the case of “submit” as in the case of “collect”, Y It is a new challenge for the sector, who has to manage the coexistence of-factly.

But, definitely, in many cases and at peak times, this relation of the on-line with off-line It is not easy, because it requires a perfect optimization of the following four elements:

1.- Design adequate physical spaces

redesign designated areas for collecting digital orders not to hinder traffic those customers who choose to apply for your order by the traditional channel, and maximize the overall capacity of the restaurant. Starbucks customers in many confessed that they left without making purchase by the huge backlog of people who were in the shops waiting to pick up the order he had made through your smartphone.

2.- adequate training of staff

The new environment requires training of specialized digital service staff orders or redistribute the template to optimize the delivery in the most complex shifts. These new profiles have to know perfectly digital processes orders and new customer needs this It has over the traditional. Surely this happens by hiring new employees or hired personnel and recycling.

3.- Use of specific digital solutions

The restaurants, increasingly, They are to become e-commerce companies. This requires digital solutions to manage incoming orders with intelligent systems that limit at peak times delivering orders. This limitation should be based on the capacity of the restaurant or queue management, where the customer knows the actual time of delivery thereof to the acceptance of the final order, and avoid going too early restoration, hindering the workflow the same.

4.- Data analysis systems through big data

All these transactions are leaving a digital trail with a huge amount of data that the new digital systems must be analyzed to streamline processes and create a better experience for customers. Thus it would be possible to predict demand at restaurants based on the historical time series analysis, allowing adjust their systems concerning these data.

Definitely, the coexistence of the digital system with the system will face a need for redesign the business model many companies catering. These have to adapt their spaces, their staff and their applications to this new scenario, which it is a huge opportunity to multiply revenue, but also the costs. They must learn to manage properly “bottleneck” that the essence of the system generates, since many of today's restaurants were not originally created to meet the demand for the new digital customer.

Undoubtedly one of the major challenges which the hospitality sector faces It is to be able to manage this new balance between on-line and off-line. Based on the famous phrase that once gave Darwin: “Not the strongest species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change”.

About the Author

CEO of DiegoCoquillat.com and director of the EscuelaDiegoCoquillat.com, teacher, consultant, lecturer and entrepreneur incorrigible. If you can not find it here, search near the sea. Passion for new technologies and restaurants ... passion for life.



  1. very interesting article from the point of view of the Revenue Management for Restaurants, Where data analysis, such as arrival patterns / orders, managing queues, bottleneck…, They will be the basis of success (or failure) in hospitality businesses in the digital world.

    a greeting!

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