Food techies, are you looking for something a little more app-etizing? The ingredients for a successful restaurant are no longer just the perfect team, perfect concept, and perfect menu — whether you’re ready or not, restaurants will have to keep up with the digital race or fall behind. Technology has completely transformed our everyday interactions, even in the way we dine.
According to Smart Insights, apps make up 89 percent of mobile media time (the other 11 percent of time being on websites), while Strategy Trends reported that 83 percent of B2B markets said mobile apps were vital to content marketing. Luckily, although technology means many changes, it also means even more opportunities. We’ve seen the best mobile apps for chefs and the top five food apps influencers are getting digi with, but we can’t ignore the people who make up the heartbeat of our industry, the restaurateurs and suppliers who pump passion into the business all around the clock.
So, which apps do restaurateurs and suppliers need to download right now to up their game? Here are five apps you need to stock up on in your kitchens.
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Operators and suppliers will never have to feel blue about the ordering process again with BlueCart — its more than 25,000 users would agree. Gone are the days of the operator-supplier partnership being consumed by the complicated tango of text messages, emails, and phone calls, leaving little room for restaurant managers to actually be on the floor and, well, manage their restaurants. And if there's a rush? Hurried mumbles over the receiver and scurried order placements scribbled on clipboards is just inviting error inside, the only guest restaurants don't want. With this app, restaurateurs and suppliers will be doing a happy dance instead.
BlueCart allows operators to take care of their inventory on a mobile-based system, in which orders can be directly uploaded for suppliers to view with a single tap of a button. And as the brand's website states, better communication means better business relationships — and fewer return orders, less time squinting at spreadsheets, and quicker response times. Operators can manage their inventory and analyze their spend history on their dashboards, and suppliers can create customized catalogs per client and set up an e-commerce store.
Aside from its ordering, invoicing, CRM, and other sales and operational capabilities, BlueCart has another differentiating factor.
"What’s unique on our restaurant-user end is our app’s impact on food waste. Through a recent survey, we’ve identified BlueCart reduces food waste by over 50 percent, simply by placing more knowledge in the hands of chefs, restaurant owners, and restaurant managers," co-founder Konstantin Zvereff said. "We allow them to make informed decisions about their ordering quantities, and our inventory management helps chefs get every ingredient off the shelf."
"...Time is not a friend to those who have chosen this profession. We know our users often push through 12-hour workdays on their feet. When they take the time out of their chaotic day to send us a quick thank you, it validates everything we do," he continued, emphasizing the importance of users being able to handle all these tasks in the palm of their hands.
Zvereff and fellow co-founder, Jagmohan Bansal, believe that "technology is for everyone." Whether a client's farm, warehouse, dining room, or bank account is big or small, everyone plays an important role in foodservice and should have access to the best tools.
"The restaurant industry is filled with incredibly intelligent and talented individuals, both on the restaurant side and supplier side. As tech solutions become increasingly normalized in this age-old industry, I believe more and more food tech options will sprout up all over the world," Bansal said. "Restaurants will be able to do everything from menu costing to payment processing, all from their phone. Our goal is to create a new standard for operational efficiency in the restaurant and hospitality industry, and so far we’re off to a good start!"
In a chaotic industry of lunch rushes, chefs scattering around the kitchen to fire up dishes, and a flurry of unexpected mishaps on the regular, Orderly's name is quite fitting. It does just that: keep things in order. This app is designed for invoicing and inventory. And fun fact? Orderly performs so well that it ranked as one of the top 100 restaurant technology companies in Foodable's interactive Restaurant Technology Guide.
Orderly promises three things: paperless invoicing, painless inventory, and an easy 1-2-3 step process. Users can capture, manage, and share invoices online by snapping photos of their orders, dollar amounts, and other supplier information for 100-percent visibility. Once the invoices are uploaded, the app automatically scrapes each line item detail for near-autopilot accounting. Users can then create custom categories and codes and export their data into integrated systems like QuickBooks. The app also allows for food spend and supplier pricing monitoring, complete with push notifications if anything seems a bit off. Orderly is available for iOS and Android, so there's no excuse why you should be in disorder.
Getting cold feet about finding a new way to check your food temperatures? Let FreshTemp warm you up to another idea. FreshTemp could be the industry's next answer to avoid food poisoning, all from a smartphone. Using a system of a Bluetooth food probe, an app, and cloud-based software, operators can monitor temperatures and collect thermometer data inside all their equipment in real-time. Not only can the FreshTemp system streamline daily restaurant tasks such as food prep and internal reporting, the app can replace traditional logbooks for efficiency and more functionality with the data.
FreshTemp sends push notification alerts when it notices something strange, such as irregular equipment temperatures, and reminds staff members to check off their duties. This risk reduction feature is a safety against wasted money and time, and acts as product loss prevention. Different restaurant sizes can also customize their activity dashboard to best suit their team and the individual login feature holds each employee accountable.
For some more food safety fun, while this isn't affiliated with FreshTemp, check out this food safety test app to keep you on your toes and freshen your memory on the best food preparation, storage, legal procedure, and kitchen practices. No matter how many years of experience you have as a restaurant manager, chef, or other culinary professional, it never hurts to study on the science of contamination.
Kitchify has one goal: to simplify everything in your kitchen. "All of your vendors on one order guide. We automatically compare the prices. You save money and time," the brand guarantees. With this app, restaurateurs have the power of choice — when all of the costs are laid out on the board, they can shop for the best products and vendors that fit their budget. Not only does Kitchify display costs in prices per unit, it also tracks the prices of everything in users' purchase history over time to prevent price increases from impacting their bottom lines.
"Kitchify differentiates itself from other restaurant and distributor apps by creating a true, transparent market for restaurants. Our restaurant customers aren’t restricted to seeing a limited set of products chosen by their distributors, but rather, have access to see, compare, and purchase tens of thousands of products they may never have known were available to them," Kitchify CEO Mark Schuwerk said. "For me, personally, I’m most proud when I see a prospective customer in a demo get 60 seconds into it and they have this realization that Kitchify is exactly what they’ve been looking for. It means that the time we’ve taken to make sure Kitchify 'makes sense' and is easy-to-use has been worth it."
On the supplier side, Kitchify acts as another sales rep, bringing business to their e-commerce doors. And if the vendor is independent and local, Kitchify brings them exposure to a volume of businesses they may not have been able to reach on their own. This app fosters the relationship on both sides, strengthening operator-supplier partnerships across the nation.
"The restaurant industry is in a transformative time right now. Processes that have been stuck in time for decades are getting shaken up, and along with that comes adaptation on all sides. Things like restaurant reservations, managing dining room seating, payroll, and kitchen and bar tickets have all been made more efficient by technology," Schuwerk said. "Technology has somehow ignored the back of house, though, maybe because it’s a difficult problem to solve, or maybe because kitchen ordering was largely left to a generation that didn’t embrace change. Regardless, Kitchify is playing a key role in the handoff between outdated processes and digital efficiency. We’re excited to be here."
Compeat has no competition, and not just because its clever name puts the "eat" in compete. Not only does this app, much like Orderly, rank as one of our top 100 restaurant technology products, the company is also regarded as one of the most foremost software technology providers for the restaurant and hospitality industry. Advertised as the ultimate restaurant management software, its fully integrated system handles everything from accounting, back office solutions, workforce solutions, and more.
Hiring, recipe analysis, menu cost development, logbooks, payroll, scheduling — you name it, this app does it all. Major brands such as Torchy's Tacos, Buffalo Wild Wings, PDQ, Dave & Buster's, Modern Market, Kona Grill, and many others are proud users of Compeat. With a roster that impressive, there's not much left to say.
Compeat was founded in 2000, in New Orleans, The Big Easy — and boy, does this app make running a restaurant easier. Despite now calling Austin, Texas, headquarters, the company's mission still remains the same. Compeat aspires to better the lives of industry professionals and create an inspiring work culture by designing simple tech solutions. Like the customers they cater to, hospitality and service is at the core of everything they do, truly combining restaurant professionals and technology innovators to pave the way for the future of food.