Supply chain optimization is indispensable in the restaurant industry. Profits are made and lost from the ingredients used in appetizers, main courses and desserts, which need to be properly stored and obtained from suppliers so patrons are free to select from menus.
Strategic sourcing will be particularly key for a well-known fast casual eatery, now that the chain is making it easier for customers to order from wherever they have an online connection.
As reported by Skift, Shake Shack is in the midst of implementing its web-based ordering platform, which allows regulars and brand-new clientele to log on to the company's website and "click" what they want.
"The plan is to take the platform nationwide."
The plan is to take the platform nationwide - Shake Shack has locations in California, Nevada, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Georgia and Texas, among a few others - but given its newness, web ordering is only available to customers at 10 locations in seven states at the present time.
Shake Shack certainly isn't the first to make to-go meal purchases available to web users. Taco Bell, Wendy's, Chipotle and Sweetgreen are a mere handful of the other household name fast food chains that have already done so, Skift noted.
What makes Shake Shack's platform unique? According to Shake Shack digital director Abbey Reider, it's about more than mere convenience.
"What's different is that we are very much focused on hospitality, and how are we impacting current guests," Reider told the online publication. "For us, it's about always making great moments."
Supply chain management touches all aspects of casual dining
The restaurant sector is one of the more competitive industries in the U.S., with a high failure rate largely because patrons have so many places they can choose from to satisfy their hunger and enjoy a night out. Thus, in addition to a fully operational food and beverage supply chain, eateries must focus on employee procurement management so wait staff, line cooks and chefs buy in to the "customer is always right" mentality. Successful companies must also deliver in food quality consistency, excellent service and speed, providing diners with their dishes as quickly as possible.
Randy Garutti, Shake Shack CEO, told Skift that he's confident the web-based platform will prove popular with people, particularly given its success with the mobile app it rolled out in 2017.
"One of the reasons the app does so well are the great food images," Garutti explained. "It's not a traditional menu board, you're browsing pictures of mouthwatering burgers. Our assumptions [about customer behavior for online ordering] are very similar."
Domino's, McDonald's and Burger King are a few of the fast food chains that enable customers to order via mobile apps. Third-parties have jumped aboard the app bandwagon as well, such as Uber Eats, Doordash and Postmates. These firms rely on operational excellence, on the part of restaurants, to stimulate sales.
For the most part, though, customers prefer to order straight from the source. Fifty-three percent of respondents, in a E-Poll Market Research survey, said they usually bought their meals from restaurant-produced apps rather than those from third-parties.
Restaurant Dive warned Shake Shack and other eateries that have online ordering options need to be mindful of the unintended consequences. While convenient for those ordering, the service can cause slowdowns for other patrons, which can complicate supply chain management.