It’s one of the biggest hesitations operators have about going digital: will technology help or hinder my customer experience?
In the words of David Ellison, Deep Blue’s Chief Operating Officer: “I was sceptical. Many of our customers are older and we were unsure if they’d use the technology but we’ve been surprised. Throughput is better, average spend is better. We never thought we’d have such high usage. Digital adoption has been fast-tracked amongst pretty much all our customers. It really is the new normal.”
Comprising Deep Blue, Harry Ramsden’s and 149 Fish & Chips, Deep Blue Restaurants is the largest fish & chips chain in the UK.
Deep Blue has gone from the complexity of managing digital ordering, EPOS, kitchen management and third-party delivery platforms with separate providers to running it all with the Vita Mojo Order Management System.
We sat down with David to find out more about Deep Blue’s journey.
What problems were you looking to solve with tech?
“At the start, we were mainly looking for kiosks. We were keen to reduce queues and increase throughput at our busy sites. But after speaking to Vita Mojo we recognised that there were huge inefficiencies in our operations that they could help us with – beyond simply digital ordering.
We had a fragmented tech stack where everything was disjointed and separate. We had different providers for our EPOS and digital ordering, and all our delivery partners on top of this. It was impossible to manage and update our channels quickly. We didn’t think there was a solution for this but Vita Mojo’s Order Management System has helped us simplify our processes massively.”
How did your tech stack affect your operational flow?
“Menu management was a nightmare and was taking upwards of 3 weeks to do because of the changes we had to make to all of our different platforms. We had two people just working on menu updates alone. As well as time being wasted, there was a huge margin for error and mistakes were often made.
Managing our delivery platforms was also a real mission. Using Deliveroo, UberEats and Just Eat meant we had a tablet and printer for each aggregator. When an order came in it would need to be printed, taken to the till, printed again and taken to the fryer. It was manic. We used to have a huge variance of what Deliveroo said we’d made vs what the till said because the team would easily miss off a drink or a side when keying orders into the POS.”
What are the key results the partnership has generated?
Since introducing Vita Mojo’s Order Management System we’ve seen a huge upside financially and administratively. The three areas we’ve seen the biggest results are:
Our marketing team used to waste so much time manually updating menus across every channel. Menu management is so easy now – we can change menu items and images through one system so menus are up-to-date and the same across every channel. Where we have kiosks, we’ve redeployed our till staff to pack orders as our order volumes have increased significantly.
Average spend and throughput.
People say the biggest upside to digital ordering is the increase in average spend. I was sceptical about this at first but results have been very positive. We typically see a 20-30% uplift in average transaction value when someone uses a Kiosk or Mobile Order & Pay vs. when they use the till. In one of our busiest sites in Bournemouth, we are seeing 50% of sales go through kiosks which makes a big difference during peak hours.
Managing so many tablets from delivery aggregators was a nightmare and we found that our teams often didn’t turn them on when they got busy. It was like having our restaurant doors locked because our sites weren’t open online, which is one of the worst feelings as a hospitality operator. When we integrated all our delivery partners with Vita Mojo, our open rate went from 80% (equivalent to losing a day of sales) to about 98-99%. The last 1% is usually maintenance issues so really we’re at 100% of trading time now!”
How difficult was the process of migrating from multiple tech providers to Vita Mojo?
“Changing systems wasn’t easy and we definitely had concerns before we started. We used to have 3-4 different till systems so integrating them all into one and getting the team used to it was a challenge. But it was worth it! We’re really happy with the system now.
Can you talk us through how your customer experience has changed since introducing Vita Mojo?
“Customer experience has undoubtedly improved as technology has helped us speed up ordering, reduce queues and wait times.
In high traffic sites like Brighton and Bournemouth our customers are usually keen to enjoy the area and a day out at the beach. The last thing they want to do is have a long wait for servers between mains and desserts or wait around for the bill. Digital ordering has made the process more efficient and customers are happy to get out and make the most of the day after their meal.
The improved efficiency of our menu management process has also massively helped with the quality of our service. When we used to run out of a menu item we’d have to go through each separate ordering channel and mark it as unavailable. By the time it took us to update all the systems another customer could have ordered an out of stock item leaving us with unhappy customers and extra work. Now that Vita Mojo helps us update all our menus in one go, our delivery customers are kept in the loop so much quicker.”
What advice would you give to operators looking to take a more digital approach?
“Embrace it! For me, technology is there to improve and enhance the business. A lot of people see it as a hindrance and I can sympathise with that. Fish and Chips is very traditional and we were also hesitant to move away from the conventional way of doing things. But our journey has shown it’s worth the risk and hard work to get there.”
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