Point-of-Sale (POS) application vendors are embracing a concept called Conversational Ordering for their Quick-Service customers.
By Allen Eskelin | CEO | Peak Portfolio | Apr 02, 2019
Point-of-Sale (POS) application vendors are embracing a concept called Conversational Ordering for their Quick-Service customers. To my knowledge, Starbucks was the first to deploy this at scale when they deployed a customized version of Micros Simphony in 2010-2011.
There are three ordering models typically used in a POS solution: 1) traditional ordering, 2) partial conversational ordering, and 3) conversational ordering. Let's take a look at each ordering model:
In the Traditional Ordering model, an employee must select an item category and/or item before they can select modifiers. To illustrate, let's take a look at a simple example in a coffee shop:
Notice that the barista has to wait for the item, determine the item category, then enter the order out of sequence from how the customer communicated it.
Some POS applications say they support Conversational Ordering but what they really have is Partial Conversational Ordering. These POS applications require the employee to select an item category (like "Beverage") before it behaves like true Conversational Ordering. The challenge with this approach is that the employee has wait until they hear the item so they will know which item category to select. Once they select the item category, the POS allows conversational ordering by allowing a modifier in that item category to be selected prior to selecting the item. To continue our coffee shop example using a Partial Conversational Ordering model:
Notice that the barista has to wait for the item, determine the item category, then after selecting the item category they can enter the order in the same sequence that the customer communicated it. That is the primary difference between Partial Conversational Ordering and Conversational Ordering, the need to select an item category before it behaves like true Conversational Ordering.
Conversational Ordering is the ability for a POS application to allow an employee to enter the customer's order in the exact order sequence that the customer communicates it. This is especially critical in coffee chains because there are so many different ways a customer communicates the same order. Now let's continue our coffee shop example with a POS that supports Conversational Ordering:
As you can see, the barista just enters the order exactly as the customer is communicating it. No translation, no remembering the whole order and having to enter it in a specific order. Just enter it as the customer is saying it.
While Conversational Ordering is typically only needed in a Quick-Service chain, it is critical for speed of service, accuracy of order entry, and ability for employees to stay engaged with the customer during the ordering process.
If you are Quick-Service chain, be sure to have prospective vendors demonstrate their capabilities around Conversational Ordering before making your final decision.
The obvious next evolution of Conversational Ordering is to capture the spoken order using voice recognition technology. This will likely be the next evolution for mobile-ordering, online-ordering, kiosk-ordering, drive-thru-ordering, virtual-assistant-ordering, and automobile-ordering. Notice I didn't say in-store-POS-ordering. The challenge here is the number of conversations that might be picked up from the line in front of your POS, music, etc... Perhaps voice-recognition technology will eventually advance enough to improve accuracy in this type of environment.
Which POS Solutions have Conversational Ordering?
How we can Help: Restaurant technology vendors are currently filling out Grid Decision's 500-1000 question RFIs each quarter for multiple applications. We use this data to produce quarterly leaderboards. But more importantly, we now have vendor data refreshed quarterly. This allows us to produce client-specific Custom Grids by applying an operator's priorities to the data in a one-day engagement and produce the same level of detailed scoring matrix as the typical 4-8 week RFP process. And we do ask about Conversational Ordering in the RFI for POS ;-).