an opportunity for innovation in catering technology
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Recently, a restaurant technology company called Slice announced a $ 40 million fundraiser, suggesting that there is a huge opportunity for creating software specifically for the independent pizza restaurant.
The Slice platform, developed by founders with a long history in the pizza business, includes online ordering capabilities, pizza rewards program, point of sale system, the ability to build a website brand and the possibility of offering delivery, among others. From a consumer’s perspective, Slice is a local pizza market (eg, not Papa John’s) from which to order and accumulate reward points that ultimately result in free food. Slice is currently operational in businesses in all 50 US states and serves more than 15,000 stores. The potential market it could serve – i.e. independent pizzerias – numbers in tens of thousands at this point in the United States
Why, you ask, would an independent pizzeria need a pizza-specific platform to do business?
Everything is in this word “independent”.
As Slice’s Product Manager, Preethy Vaidyanatha, explained to me recently, if you want to run a pizza business (or any restaurant, really), you basically have two options: open a Domino’s (or Pizza Hut) franchise. , or Papa John’s) or start your own business. The latter choice allows for more culinary creativity and freedom, but comes with the added stressors of running a low-margin type of business, even when there isn’t a pandemic shutting down stores. restaurants left and right.
On top of that – and this is what Slice’s tech really aims to address – the tech march on the food service industry is inevitable at this point for just about everyone. Numerical control is now a must for businesses large and small. And after a year of ever-changing restaurant closures and restrictions, costs need to be brought down, and digitizing the back of the house (accounting, inventory management, etc.) is one way to achieve that.
Add to that some elements very specific to pizzerias. The menu can be simple (pizza), but it has to meet demands like half and half toppings, extra cheese, and crust types. Some companies sell both whole pies and individual slices. Digitally speaking, these choices should be available with a few clicks on a phone or computer. Meanwhile, many pizzerias still manage their own delivery, which is factored into the management of operations.
Slice handles the technical logistics of all of these situations, and there’s arguably plenty of room for other foodservice tech companies to develop tools for these things as well.
If you are Domino’s, you can just throw money at the problem and open an innovation center to tackle those problems. I can promise you that your average family pizzeria doesn’t have its own innovation hub. Still, she and any other independent pizza place need the ability to also offer the kinds of digital amenities that consumers get from big business, and this is where foodservice tech companies like Slice could prove immensely valuable. .
Slice’s technology, on the other hand, gives independent stores the same online scanning, process automation, and ordering / payment tools you would get with Domino’s or a third-party delivery service, but at a much lower cost. The company did not disclose the actual numbers, but did mention that restaurants pay a fixed fee per transaction to use the platform, rather than the percentage per transaction model used by DoorDash et al.
Pizza has always been in its own class when it comes to delivery, from the food itself to how it handles offsite formats like delivery. Having pizzerias build their own tech stack for pizzerias seems like the next natural step in the evolution of segments.
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