Disruptive Innovations relevant to Food Business

The following article is based on my own interpretation of the said events. Any material borrowed from published and unpublished sources has been appropriately referenced. I will bear the sole responsibility for anything that is found to have been copied or misappropriated or misrepresented in the following post.


Sidhartha Sankar Nanda, MBA 2015-17, Vinod Gupta School of Management, IIT Kharagpur

The emerging technologies including those of mobile internet, advanced robotics etc. have the potential of reshaping the unforeseen business world. It is high time for the leaders to not only know what’s on the horizon but also start preparing for its impact. The following article provides a list of few of the disruptive innovation that has already taken place and has benefitted significantly to the food business all over the world

  1. McDonald’s “build your own burger” technology

McDonald’s has been testing a concept that lets customers use tablets to build their own burgers with toppings like guacamole, bacon, or jalapenos. The brand is also offering consumers the option to upgrade their breakfast sandwiches with egg whites or white cheddar.

  1. Touch screen order kiosks at Rutters

The fast food restaurants in the US have introduced touch screen order kiosks, which enable customised orders of food and feature a ‘Remember Me’ feature used to recall the customer’s last 12 orders, plus one touch re-orders opening the potential to provide further personalisation features. Alongside this they also provide an award winning mobile app with mobile wallet capabilities including payment and targeted coupons, deals & rewards. Additionally customers are able to check-in to restaurants on their phones and get loyalty rewards as well as providing customer feedback.

  1. Voice ordering on mobile devices

Domino’s Pizza has been marketing on television “Dom,” a virtual voice-ordering assistant for its mobile app. Will it work? Yes. Although looking like a gimmick currently, voice ordering is where the industry is headed. Companies, from restaurants to retailers, continue to try and remove barriers to buying their goods and services. Who wants to tap five times on an app to order a pizza, right?

  1. Facebook ordering

This may be the biggest technology leap coming in the next year, as nearly 100 percent of restaurant owners say they plan to have a Facebook  presence by next year. Companies specializing in Facebook-payment integration for restaurants such as ChowNow and NetWaiter are helping chains to get their ordering onto the popular platform. This is a fairly low-cost add-on to make, and it has the potential to grow sales, which always gets a restaurateur’s attention. For instance, the Taco Spot in Charleston, SC saw a 10 percent sales bump after implementing Facebook-based ordering, trade magazine Fast Casual recently reported.

  1. Togo burger concept

Rhode Island School of Design industrial design student Seulbi Kim has created the Togo Burger, an innovative folding cardboard device to hold fast food with one hand. This package is designed to provide a more convenient way of take-out for fast food industry as well as its customers by designing handy carrier for take-out burger meal consisted of a burger, french-fries, and soda.

McDonalds are currently working to make use of the technology.

  1. No Call, No Clicks Order

Red Tomato’s pizza box shaped refrigerator magnet can be configured with a mobile phone, specifying favourite pizza and toppings, along with payment data to keep on file. Any time he wants pizza, he presses the button on the magnet, which uses Bluetooth to communicate with the phone, which sends a text message to Red Tomato. The customer gets a text back confirming the order and the pizza arrives soon after. No call, no clicks, no problem

7.Tablets in stores by Applebee’s

The casual restaurant chain is installing tablets in stores, letting customers pay on the spot and eliminating the need to wait for a check.

8.iPad order kiosks

Why wait in line if you can file your order at a kiosk immediately, and then sit down and relax? Blazing Onion Burger Company is testing this system out in a new restaurant opened last month in Seattle. Expect more of this, since it could help prevent walk-aways and result in more orders.

  1. Tabletop e-waiter & checkout.

Diners hate it when waiters take their credit card away and run it up at the register — it’s a common point for credit-card fraud. Hand them a restaurant iPad they can self-checkout on where their card doesn’t leave their sight, and they’re happy. That often-endless wait for the card and bill to return doesn’t win fans, either. Ela Carte’s Presto Tablet is one solution that offers tableside self-checkout and more — it even suggests additional items to order, and the company reports it cuts 7 minutes off the average diner’s stay. Customers are happy with the faster service, and restaurants can serve more diners per night. Airport-restaurant chain HMSHost is among the operators using Presto.

  1. Digital menu boards and smart phones.

Watch for fast-food restaurants to change menus more often, because digital menu boards make it so much easier than manually changing prices and items. Digital signage also allows quick-serve restaurants to provide entertainment and interactivity while you wait in line — for example, Boston-based burrito chain Boloco’s digital signboard allows patrons to play tic-tac-toe against friends or the computer while they wait.

11.Games while-u-wait

Gaming industry sources report McDonald’s is projecting gesture-enabled games onto restaurant floors for kids to play while they wait for Happy Meals, in 150 of the chain’s higher-profile locations. Now that’ll keep kids busy — and we all know happy kids mean happy parents who come back to your restaurant.

  1. Use of electric car for robotic load picking for warehouse by Big Basket for cost cutting and an attempt to use pollution free vehicles;
  2. CSR for marketing

Some of these CSR initiatives include :

  • Kellog’s India attempt to provide free breakfast to the most depriving children.
  • BigBasket attempt to provide free housing for its warehouse employees and delivery employees
  • Starbucks attempt to provide comprehensive health benefits and stock to part-timers
  • Starbucks attempt to cover 100% of tuition cost for workers to finish their degrees online in U.S.
  • Starbuck Mobile truck can move to various locations on campus throughout the day, making convenient for students and faculty to grab a snack or beverage. It focuses on campus.
  • McDonald’s transitioning From Styrofoam to Paper Cups for Coffee
  1. Capitalizing on growing Selfie trend

Similar to the concerts, selfies are today’s trend. Payments using selfie option can be an added feature

According to McKinsey report, applications of the emerging technologies including those of advanced robotics, energy storage etc. could have a potential economic impact between $14 trillion and $33 trillion a year in 2025. This estimate is neither predictive nor comprehensive. It is based on an in-depth analysis of key potential applications and the value they could create in a number of ways, including the consumer surplus that arises from better products, lower prices, a cleaner environment, and better health.


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