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ASCM Insights

Refreshing the Restaurant Industry with Tech Innovation

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It’s been just over three years since much of the world went into lockdown in response to the worsening COVID-19 pandemic. Schools, gyms, hotels, restaurants — they all endured the worst of a painfully halted economy. Thankfully, due to increased focus on stability and resilience, supply chains are mostly back on track: Grocery store stock is at prepandemic levels, shipping costs are down, and restaurants are once again bustling. Yet despite these improvements, the restaurant industry is still struggling in many ways.

As a recent Forbes article notes, “In the face of inflation, supply chain shortages and staffing challenges, there are still obstacles to navigate. … Restaurant owners will need to continue finding the right balance of price increases and menu changes while keeping the customer and revenue top of mind. This will be an ongoing challenge until economic conditions settle down.”

Unsurprisingly, some have been forced to pass on higher prices to customers. Last week, local Hawaiian news station KHON2 reported that many restaurants in the state are even adding a 10% fee to the final bill, calling it a “supply chain adjustment.”

Supply chain as a concept — rather than just an industry — has been top of mind recently. As such, restauranteurs may assume diners will understand these extra charges. On the other hand, real-time data about supply chain risks and disruptions can help restaurant owners avoid this problem and be more proactive about managing mounting costs. Burgeoning tech tools — including software-as-a-service, artificial intelligence and predictive analytics — help operators gather insights about events that are currently happening, plus those that could potentially occur, according to FSR magazine.

For instance, instead of adding extra fees to offset new costs, restauranteurs might use real-time data analysis to facilitate better decision-making and reduce waste (and costs) associated with excess inventory, labor expenses and transportation inefficiencies. They can also optimize operations by providing real-time visibility, improving communication with vendors, boosting sustainability and managing climate-related risk.

Indeed, advancing transparency in the supply chain is paramount for many restaurants, as both the industry and consumers increase their commitment to “ethical sourcing practices, fair labor, sustainability and diversity,” Francine L. Shaw, cofounder of My Food Source, writes for Restaurant News Release. “Restaurants that are transparent about their sourcing practices can attract socially responsible customers and establish a positive reputation,” she goes on to say, recommending that operators both follow these practices and promote them to attract new clientele.

Learning the way forward

An analysis for Deloitte supports Shaw’s arguments. It notes that more effective digital supply chain planning can be achieved by moving away from reliance on historic data and toward dynamic planning that draws on third-party data to predict demand, digital twins, real-time route optimization, and RFID- and internet-of-things-enabled tracking technologies. “Restaurants are digitizing their value chains to predict inventory shortages and monitor shelf life, cold chain compliance, and other food safety concerns that require near real-time visibility,” Deloitte reports.

Understating these technologies — and how to effectively implement them at your organization — is crucial for any supply chain professional seeking to advance their career. Help your organization make the most of cutting-edge technologies by earning the new ASCM Supply Chain Technology Certificate. While completing the program, you’ll learn through fascinating case studies from globally recognized organizations so you can better understand what works today — and secure your seat at the table tomorrow.

About the Author

Abe Eshkenazi, CSCP, CPA, CAE CEO, ASCM

Abe Eshkenazi is chief executive officer of the Association for Supply Chain Management (ASCM), the largest organization for supply chain and the global pacesetter of organizational transformation, talent development and supply chain innovation. During his tenure, ASCM has significantly expanded its services to corporations, individuals and communities. Its revenue has more than doubled, and the association successfully completed three mergers in response to both heightened industry awareness and the vast and ongoing global impact driven by supply chains. Previously, Eshkenazi was the managing director of the Operations Consulting Group of American Express Tax and Business Services. He may be contacted through ascm.org.

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