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article imageQ&A: New digital solution for easing third-party delivery Special

By Tim Sandle     Sep 14, 2019 in Business
As more restaurants opt into online delivery and ditch exclusivity contracts with third-parties, integration solutions are needed to make third-party delivery a painless and profitable venture. Vishal Agarwal, CEO of ItsaCheckmate provides an example.
Postmates recently announced partnership with Five Guys relies on ItsaCheckmate’s streamlined integrations, making it easier for their restaurants to juggle orders from various third-party delivery platforms, like Postmates, while eliminating the “tablet hell” that often accompanies it.
To discover more, Digital Journal spoke with, CEO of ItsaCheckmate to discuss how point-of-sale integration has produced an industry of tech brands looking to ease operations for restaurants experimenting with delivery by integrating with multiple providers like Postmates, DoorDash, GrubHub and more.
Digital Journal: How has the food delivery business shifted in recent years?
Vishal Agarwal: In terms of the shift, on an overall level, it has grown dramatically. When we started about two years ago, some of our restaurants had 10 percent of their orders flow through the online channel. This has now grown to 30 percent. In addition to the growth factor, there have also been a lot of improvements in the way the food is delivered, the kind of restaurants offering delivery and the kind of food being delivered.
What a lot of restaurants are realizing is that delivery and the online ordering channel can provide a substantial boost to their revenue, and they are starting to adopt it at a faster pace. But then, this also comes with an additional operational burden and newer methods of accounting. Restaurants are now curating their menu to be put up online, instead of putting their entire in-store menu on the online ordering platforms. They are also realizing that not all food travels well, so that is being curated as well. Earlier, we had only quick-service restaurants adopting delivery, but we are now starting to see fine dining and full-service restaurants also embrace it. When opening new restaurants, they are now taking online orders into account and building dedicated spaces for pickup and delivery drivers.
From the third-party platform's perspective, they are starting to bring on larger brands that had traditionally shied away from delivery. The third-party platforms have substantially improved their quality and driver control, so they can convince the larger brands that their food quality is safe in their driver's hand.
DJ: What are the main challenges facing restaurants in this space?
Agarwal: Operations, accounting and menu management. The extra revenue is always great, but they are now struggling with the operations on how to take these "foreign" orders and account for them like their native orders. How to inject them into the core of their operations? How to properly do inventory for these orders? How to treat the commission being charged for these third-party orders? The accounting reconciliation piece for the restaurants is a huge pain as well. Then they must worry about making sure their menus are updated in all of the various platforms so that their orders are coming through accurately.
DJ: What is the ItsaCheckmate solution?
Agarwal: ItsaCheckmate integrates orders from 45 different online ordering platforms directly into 22 separate POS (point of sale) systems. All the orders coming through from various platforms are then converted into the same format as the POS menu and sent through to the kitchen printer automatically, without any manual interference at all. This substantially streamlines their front-of-house operations.
All the orders are then printed out in the kitchen printer or show up on the Kitchen Display Screens (KDS) in the same format as if it was manually entered in the store. This makes the kitchen staff extremely efficient. All the orders are also sent in with the right payment option/tender type, e.g. a GrubHub order is sent in with a "GrubHub" payment option, and an UberEats order with an "UberEats" payment option. This results in the restaurants being able to reconcile their revenue from various sources with their POS data very accurately and efficiently. They can use the same POS dashboard they have always been using to look at the reports and do their reconciliation.
ItsaCheckmate also provides full menu management support so that, in case of any changes, they can simply reach out to us, and we will make the menu changes for them.
DJ: What does the partnership with Five Guys involve?
Agarwal: Five Guys is an enterprise customer for whom we integrate third-party orders from GrubHub, UberEats and Postmates directly into their Brink POS. This also comes with a huge underlying service layer, where we help with the rollout of new services at locations that do not already have them.
DJ: How did you develop the technology?
Agarwal: We had initially started with a mobile app that would help customers pay and split their check after they have dined at a full-service restaurant. Since day one, we had always focused on POS integrations. When the first concept did not work out, we heard quite a large demand from customers to inject their third-party orders to their POS. Since we already had a couple of POS integrations, we realized we had already done half the work. We then started working with taking order confirmation emails from third parties, automatically parsing them and sending them to the POS integrations we had already built. That is how this entire thing came about. We now primarily have API integrations with many of the third parties and are sending their orders directly to the POS.
DJ: What other innovations can we expect in the food delivery space?
Agarwal: We believe the method of delivery will get more efficient. Currently, it is very costly for the restaurants and third-party platforms to deliver 1:1 food, so there is innovation coming on that front, where customers will be able to get food delivered to their houses/offices at a much lower cost. There is also a lot of data being gathered by the third-party platforms to continually optimize and make the ordering process more efficient and optimize the menu. There is a huge opportunity to upsell to customers based on their history and collective history, resulting in higher basket sizes and more targeted choices for the customers.
The concept of “ghost” or “dark” kitchens is not new but is rapidly growing as well. These kitchens do not have any front of house or seating area but are purely built for delivery.
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