In this special edition of its 5 Things series, Food Management highlights five recent technology-related developments affecting the foodservice world.
Here’s your list for today:
- “Shoppable” videos boost grocer’s online business
The partnership between grocer The Fresh Market and live commerce and “shoppable” video platform Firework has produced double-digit growth across several key performance indicators, including a +97% conversion rate for Firework’s short-form videos at thefreshmarket.com versus the sitewide average since launch, a +47% click-through rate for dedicated Firework emails versus the overall email click-through rate pre-launch, and a double-digit increase in click-through rate and ad recall on Facebook posts featuring Firework video versus those without. The Firework platform allows users to create, host and curate engaging short-form and livestream video on any website, which enables any retailer, direct-to-consumer brand, media publisher or business to own, engage and monetize a community around short-form video.
Read more: The Fresh Market gets results from ‘shoppable’ videos
- Automation increasing in pizza restaurants
Automating the pizza-making process could go a long way for operators, as it may be the most labor-intensive part of running a pizzeria. A May study from IBISWorld found that there are 845,650 employees of pizza restaurants in the United States in 2022, while Zippia research finds that the number of pizza makers in the country is “over 534,275.” If these figures are within the range of accurate, automating the pizza-making process can cut back on nearly two-thirds of the labor needed in pizzerias.
Some tech providers, however, are not satisfied stopping there. They have set their sights on an even greater pizza automation challenge: automating the entire restaurant, from preparation to getting the food into the customer’s hands. Earlier this year, for instance, it was reported that pizza giant Pizza Hut was testing an automated location at a mall in Bnei Dror, Israel.
Read more: Robotic Pizza Makers Grab Larger Slice of Restaurant Automation Pie
- Retailers looking to autonomous last mile delivery solutions to cut costs
As more and more customers move from offline to online for their shopping needs, the ‘last mile’ has become more significant than ever before for retailers, and they are increasingly adopting autonomous last mile delivery as a smart logistics service to lower delivery costs and increase productivity, according to data and analytics company GlobalData. “With the rise of e-commerce, developing a robust last-mile delivery service emerged as a critical factor for retailers,” said Sourabh Nyalkalkar, project manager at GlobalData. “Some of the leading public-listed retailers including Walmart, Amazon, and Ocado Group are introducing various autonomous last-mile delivery solutions such as autonomous robots, self-driving delivery cars, vans, and trucks, as well as delivery drones to provide swift package delivery to customers.”
Read more: Retailers are Dabbling in Drone Delivery
- AI may hold key to smoothing out supply chain disruptions for distributors
For years, the conventional wisdom around food distribution has been “get in, get out”—distributors want to store food for as short a time as possible so that they can keep capacity available. But supply chain disruptions have made that strategy borderline impossible for human workers to keep up without a little help. That help is coming in the form of artificial intelligence (AI)-based systems that collect customer order and sales data that can later be used to forecast supply and demand, technologies that may soon become popular among restaurants and grocery stores as well, says Pete Zimmerman, North American sales manager for resource planning software firm Vormittag Associates Inc., which is marketing one such system. “Whether it’s a retailer or a restaurant, I think they’ll be able to take advantage of artificial intelligence tools that are going to tell them how much to reorder at their store. A lot of our customers’ customers do that manually,” he explained. “But I think there’s going to be tools and capabilities that will be put into the hands of the end user.”
Read more: This technology could reshape the world of food distribution
- Drones invade the ‘burbs
Amazon Prime Air is finally out of stealth mode after almost a decade of prototyping over 20 drones, with the company showcasing its drones earlier this month. Previously, back in May, Walmart announced an expansion of its DroneUp delivery network to 34 sites by the end of the year, providing the potential to reach 4 million US households and creating the capacity to deliver over 1 million packages by drone in a year. What makes all of this innovation interesting is that these drone delivery services are cropping up in the suburbs as inner urban areas are already crowded with ebike food, grocery, and medical delivery services.
Read more: A pie from the sky: The future of drone deliveries is suburban
Bonus: Texas A&M Dining offers expanded options and high-tech innovation
Contact Mike Buzalka at [email protected]