As more cost-conscious consumers trade in dining out for home-cooked meals, quick-service, casual and fine-dining establishments are feeling the heat. When consumers do treat themselves to a night on the town, restaurants are under the gun to provide a quality experience and maximize the value of customers who come through the door, according to Andrees Ali, owner, Brooklyn, N.Y.-based Brooklyn Bowl, a 23,000-sq.-ft. venue that features a restaurant, 16 lanes of bowling, a retail store and a 600-seat concert hall.
By arming its work force with mobile technology, Brooklyn Bowl, City Winery and other restaurants are increasing productivity and improving customer loyalty.
In other types of retail, handheld scanners commonly help employees scan, pick and slot merchandise in the warehouse, take inventory and place orders directly in store aisles. And some grocery chains now are providing units that enable shoppers to scan and check out their own orders. The hospitality industry, however, has not been as fast to embrace mobile technology.
“Besides the high cost of hardware, software and integration, mobile and wireless technologies were often passed over due to security concerns and difficulties instituting employee training,” said Scott Drobner, Motorola Enterprise Mobility Solutions’ director of market insights, during a press conference sponsored by Motorola Enterprise Mobility Solutions, Holtsville, N.Y.
As the cost of the technology continues to drop and applications become more open and easier to use, though, the industry’s perspective is beginning to change. In fact, according to a study Motorola conducted with 468 global IT decision makers, 82% of respondents reported an increasing importance of mobility within their companies.
A majority of these customers ranked mobility support for employees as their second most important business priority, second only to disaster-recovery and business-continuity efforts. Similarly, 60% of these companies believe mobile and wireless technologies give them a competitive advantage.
“The hospitality industry is discovering what retailers already know: The units are a way to give personal service to consumers and increase internal efficiency,” Andre Nataf, business development manager for Digital Dining, said during a panel discussion during the event. (Digital Dining is a Springfield, Va.-based company that provides mobile ordering software.)
It was the ideal solution for Brooklyn Bowl. Realizing that managing multiple business components can become protracted, owner Ali deployed two Motorola MC50 Enterprise Digital Assistants to make better use of the Bowl’s managers’ time.
“The units give them a snapshot of what is happening across the venue, including at the bar, tables, lanes and music [hall],” he reported. “The key to success in a competitive environment is communication. With real-time access to information, we can address any floor-level issues more efficiently and deliver more customer service.”
New York City-based City Winery also uses MC50s to streamline the ordering process for its wait staff and guests. During peak operating hours, the 21,000-sq.-ft. facility can have up to 10 waiters waiting to input orders into one of two centralized terminals. By enabling servers to electronically take orders tableside via handhelds, the restaurant has streamlined order processing “by cutting down on wasted time waiting to process orders,” explained Michael Dorf, manager, City Winery. “It is improving our efficiency and even increased our table turns.”
Currently, the venue uses up to four units per shift. While the devices are in high demand among the staff, “the waiters stationed farthest from the central terminals get to use them,” he explained.
The units were deployed when the venue opened in January. Eventually, Dorf plans to outfit his entire wait staff with the units.
Walmart brings back $10 toys
BENTONVILLE, Ark. Walmart announced that it is bringing back its $10 toys section in all stores and expanding its $10 holiday assortment this year to more than 100 toys.
According to the company, the $10 toys assortment is the first of several programs Walmart will announce this holiday season to bring 12 weeks of added savings in a year that has been increasingly tough on consumer wallets.
“With the popularity of our ’10 for $10′ toy program last October, we knew it was important for customers that we bring it back and offer an even greater amount of $10 toys this year,” said Laura Phillips, chief toy officer and VP toys for Walmart. “We began working months ago to ensure we could also introduce many toys at just $10 for this holiday program, as well as roll back prices at a time when our customers were ready to make purchases.”
Toys in the $10 assortment include Transformers Action Figures, board games and Play-Doh.
ECRM names new VP general merchandise
CLEVELAND, Ohio ECRM has named Cheryl Gherlone VP general merchandise. Gherlone joined the ECRM team in June of 2009, assisting with various sales related responsibilities and researching potential new events. In her new position, Gherlone will work jointly with Paul Wendling of ECRM. This organizational change will become effective on Oct. 1.
Prior to joining ECRM, Gherlone held the position of marketing manager for Longs Drug Stores, with responsibility for general merchandise including stationery, electronics, housewares, hardware, automotive, soft goods as well as liquor & beverages.
“With such a solid background, Cheryl will be an exceptional complement to ECRM and the GM category. We look forward to her expertise to lead the advancement of this important category. Her leadership will strengthen our ability to improve existing GM shows and expand show offerings in 2010,” said Charlie Bowlus, CEO of ECRM.