Presto Disrupting the Restaurant Industry with Wearable and Digital Tech
Digital technology is providing new opportunities to industries all over the globe, and the restaurant business is no exception.
When Rajat Suri dropped out of his MIT engineering program, he found himself in need of employment. Like many in his situation, he landed a job waiting tables in a busy restaurant. While performing this role, he noticed inefficiencies which he believed could be addressed with digital technology.
"What I have learned from being a waiter is just how hard the restaurant business can be," said Suri. "There are a lot of things that can go wrong in a restaurant that could be fixed with tech."
Using his engineering know-how, he began building and testing prototypes while performing his role. After waiting for a year and a half, Suri founded Presto and decided it was time to bring his products to market.
The products first released by Presto (initially named E la Carte) included a tabletop ordering system and handheld server tablets.
The tabletop ordering system is a device which is fixed to the dining table - somewhat reminiscent of those old jukebox song selectors in 50s diners. On the device, guests can browse the restaurant menu and place their orders, without the need for a server to attend. They can fill out feedback forms after their meal, eliminating the need for cards or paper forms, which is better for admin and the environment. Customers can even pay for their meal using the terminal, either with the card strip along the top, or using NFC payment services such as contactless cards and Apple/Google Pay.
QR codes can also be scanned to apply promotions and offers automatically. All this serves to make the ordering and paying process more convenient for the customer while freeing up servers for other tasks.
The handheld server tablets operate in much of the same way but are operated by waiting staff instead of the customer, replacing traditional handwritten pads. The tablets allow servers to take orders quicker and more accurately than before and offer the same features as the terminals.
Another great product offered by Presto is an artificial intelligence platform which allows restaurateurs greater insights into how their business is performing.
"You can enable operators to optimize the number of servers they are going to need for a particular shift - neither too high nor too low," said Presto. "Other valuable insights include server performance, server greeting time, table turn count, daily average check size, etc. Learn and capture the ordering habits of customers in real-time, across thousands of interactions, creating a personal experience for each customer. Suggest trending items, high-margin items, and food and drink pairings based on aggregated historical data."
AI is a powerful tool for business. The technology enables data to be aggregated and analyzed in a heartbeat, and the results made available to be transformed into actionable policy decisions which can streamline processes and drive revenue.
The latest development to come out of the Presto stable is a range of wearable devices, designed to help servers better meet the needs of their customers.
A wrist-mounted device can interact with the Presto tabletop terminal and allows servers to be notified when a fresh drink or other assistance is requested. The device also notifies servers of other relevant information such as food allergies, birthdays, and loyalty status, helping them make sure the service they deliver is as personal as possible. The kitchen can also interact with the wearables, notifying servers when food is ready to be delivered to customers.
Restaurants can also receive prompts when feedback is given, allowing staff to respond to complaints while the customer is still in the restaurant - reducing the chances of negative reviews finding their way online.
The exciting technology being put out by Presto offers great functionality to restaurants and allows them to better serve their customers and run their business. From tablet computers to AI and wearables, each presents an opportunity to create superior customer experiences and drive revenue.
"Over the last 10 years, we've seen seismic shifts in the restaurant industry, especially in increased challenges with competition, rising labor costs and consumer expectations," said Suri. "We see an opportunity to apply technology, with a focus on tabletop ordering and front-of-house operations, to help operators effectively address these issues with turnkey solutions. I realized how messy the real world can be and how much opportunity there is for tech to make a difference"
Digital technology is set to be a hot topic at Future Restaurants 2019, taking place this September in Austin, TX.
Download the agenda today for more information and insights.