This article was first published in the Spring 2015 issue of OnWindows
Imagine finishing a hard week of work and looking forward to a pint of your favourite beer only to find that when you get to your local bar or restaurant it is not available.
Enough to ruin your weekend? Perhaps not. But enough to affect your customer satisfaction levels? Most definitely.
With many establishments now offering a wide range of beer brands and styles, keeping tabs on inventory levels, setting the right range of beer options and establishing the optimal pricing levels, not to mention keeping tabs on customer purchasing trends, can be a complicated task.
A new solution from SteadyServ Technologies and Intel is providing bars and restaurants with a much-needed insight into their own operations, helping staff to stay one step ahead of the game.
Manual methods, including guessing, are often used to determine the estimated amount left in a keg, and staff have to stay on top of tasks such as orders from brewers. This leaves significant room for human error and inefficiencies to creep in.
In order to carry out accurate and efficient inventory management, bars and restaurants require a system that allows kegs to deliver vital information, which helps management teams understand what is happening in their establishment, as well as the surrounding neighbourhood and areas around them. Having this information helps managers make simple and effective decisions about what they should do next. Up until now, this has not been available, so guessing was the next best option. SteadyServ and Intel eliminate the guesswork.
The SteadyServ iKeg is a cloud-based inventory management and intelligence system that delivers near-real-time insight and information to users.
Using radio-frequency identification tagging and weight sensor technology, the iKeg solution collects consumption data from kegs. This is then processed through an Intel Internet of Things Gateway solution, which aggregates, filters and encrypts data before sending it to the cloud.
The SteadyServ cloud infrastructure then analyses sensor data, as well as point of sale and external data, to provide actionable insight reports to users. These reports can be accessed via an internet portal or mobile application.
Sales representatives from distributors have access to the system and certain intelligence, so they are as up to date on popularity, consumption and depletions as the bars and restaurants are. This means they can see what is going to be ordered, which beers are doing well and which are not, thereby becoming much more useful as a knowledge resource to the bar manager.
SteadyServ is now engaging many of the largest worldwide brewers to become involved with the solution, and is providing them with insights previously not possible. Due to the solution’s real-time capabilities, brewers can look at a specific marketplace and identify where it is outperforming competitors, and areas where it is underperforming.
Carl Bruggemeier is CEO of CZH Hospitality, a management company in charge of several restaurants and hospitality projects across the US. CZH Hospitality was one of the first adopters of the SteadyServ iKeg system, and Bruggemeier says that the solution immediately struck him as an excellent addition to his company.
“For me, it’s all about having near real-time information about all of my draft beer products at my fingertips,” Bruggemeier says. “I can get a variety of reports and information on my handheld device. The system allows me to understand my customer’s purchasing trends, look at my inventory and compare the information from SteadyServ with the reports I get from my point of sale systems, so that I can verify that I’m getting all the money I should. It has become an invaluable management tool for all the young people that work for me.”
Thanks to the SteadyServ system, Bruggemeier and his staff are able to get a clearer picture of customer needs and preferences, helping them meet their demands more effectively.
“The most important thing it has done for us is that we don’t run out of the beers our customers wish to purchase,” Bruggemeier says. “This makes the customer very happy because previously we might have run out of a very popular and great selling product. There are two outcomes from that – you have an angry customer and you miss out on potential revenue.”
The solution also helps inform weekly purchasing decisions, such as what beers should be on offer.
“We can look at a trend and say ‘our customers are telling us they like pale ales’ for example,” Bruggemeier explains. “We may only have one or two available, but with this information we can go and find others to complement what we already sell. This helps increase customer satisfaction to thereby increase our revenues.”
Bruggemeier not only uses SteadyServ in the restaurants and bars he controls, but recommends it to all his clients. “For many years the hospitality industry lagged behind others in the appropriate use of technology, and I think we suffered because of it,” he concludes. “I think systems like SteadyServ and the explosion of this kind of technological improvement and availability of data is going to make those that adopt it eminently more powerful in their marketplace and completely responsive to their customers’ needs.”
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