From Digitisation to Digital Transformation in the Restaurant and Foodservice Industry — How To Prepare For AI-Powered F&B Management

  • how AI, machine learning, and new tech can help you achieve operational excellence…
  • how AI (and other technologies) drives forward digital transformation [your ultimate goal]…
  • why you should act NOW if you want to be leaps and bounds ahead of your competition…
  • and you’ll know exactly what AI and digital transformation can do for your business.

Definitions of terms that pop up in this post

Why Digital Transformation in F&B (& Why You Should Act NOW)?

Start now, because a business-wide digital transformation doesn’t happen overnight.
  • keeping food cost down — there’s little wiggle room on the revenue side. And that wiggle room is expensive. You know your ticket to success is cost efficiency…
  • squashing costly human errors — from menu engineering to procurement mistakes that you don’t even find out about until you do a yearly audit. It all adds up…
  • dialling in on future successes — from growing in current markets to expanding into new ones, all the way to innovating and honing their digital F&B strategy.

What is F&B digital transformation?

  1. Everyone’s thinking about it, but major players are still out — big chains are still testing the business applications of AI. Actually, they are all working to figure out how to implement it into existing processes. This gives you an edge. If you start from scratch today, you’ll be miles ahead of them when they realise it’s time for the ‘out with the old, in with the new’-approach.
  2. It takes time to achieve the necessary digital maturity — transformation doesn’t happen overnight. You need to test, iterate, experiment, fail, and then test some more. You need to develop integrations; you need to train your tech and systems, and you need to get buy-in at almost all levels of the organisation. The sooner you start, the better.
  • A level playing field between yourself and emerging, digitally-led competitors;
  • New business models to turn to when the market goes on the fritz [goodbye, Covid!]
  • A ‘fail fast’ mentality that results in quick turnarounds for ‘go-to-market’ initiatives;
  • A more meaningful employee/customer relationships [stronger brand/employer brand];
  • Access to innovative products/services to replace aging concepts.

Digitisation, Digitalisation & Digital Transformation — An All-You-Need-To-Know Primer for F&B Professionals

  1. Digitisation — doing the same thing (counts, inventory, procurement) differently;
  2. Digitalisation — using technology to do new things that drive your operation forward.

F&B Digitisation — Moving From Unruly Post-Its to the Digital World

For example, your table bookings don’t look like this…
Digital tools are streamlined, efficient… and leave a permanent record that’s a treasure trove of quality data.
Accurate counts are both an absolute must and a pain. Apicbase takes the pain away.
  • Decreased costs
  • Streamlined operations
  • Optimised resource management
  • Reduction in human errors
  • Better customer experience

F&B Digitalisation — Making Your Systems & Tech Do All the Legwork

F&B digitalisation means your systems can ‘talk’ to each other and automate mundane manual tasks.
  1. be impossible to do (instant warning if stock falls below par levels) or;
  2. remain too cost-prohibitive to do (daily stock counts across all your units).
Apicbase generates accurate order forms before you even realise you’re running low on something…
  • Advanced online table reservation system — these make it easy for customers to book a table and leave additional info. If the system integrates with BoH systems, it can create tailored digital menus (for adults and kids), and even scrap items that contain allergens (based on the details that the customers share about their food allergies).
  • Staff management and rota creation — yet another example of F&B digitalisation. Based on historical data, the system can figure out how many servers and BoH staff you need at any particular location months in advance. This keeps labour costs predictable, and it’s a real asset if you’re running large-scale catering or cloud-kitchen operations, where margins are razor-thin as it is.
  • Waste & pilferage warning system — an advanced BoH platform can be trained to spit out data about excess waste or even pilferage. For example, Apicbase can flag instances of increased waste production at certain locations (and even during certain shifts. This allows you to monitor the situation and, if needed, take steps to figure out if there’s pilferage happening at any of the flagged locations.
Record and analyse waste across your operations, and you’ll make a real dent in your food cost.

F&B Digital Transformation — Your Ticket to Running a Lean, Profitable Operation

  • Programs that sift through thousands of data points in the blink of an eye;
  • Tech that integrates and communicates to enable error-free automations
  • Systems that connect to facilitate increased customer satisfaction.
  • Automated procurement — down to the level of suggesting a different supplier on specific days/months because they have better deliverability/quality/quantity scores.
  • Smart F&B waste management — bins that weigh and recognise food waste so that you can either introduce extra training or revisit portioning and menu engineering.
  • Review predictions — knowing the days (weather, holidays, time of year) when your online reviews take a nosedive & stepping up the level of service to offset that.
  • Personalised digital menus — facial recognition technology that tailors digital menu offers based on the age, gender, ethnicity, or status (new or returning) of the customer.
  • Staff planning — down to a minute for each employee, thanks to the HR tech connecting to FoH and BoH (so it gets fed historical data, forecasts, and external data).

The Time for Your F&B Digital Transformation is NOW

The tech for digitalising your BoH processes isn’t a ‘pie in the sky’ kind of thing. It’s here, right now.
  • … Fréderique Van Alfen-Las, for example, manages 18 catering outlets serving 24,000 students and 5,000 employees of the Radboud University, in a single dashboard.
  • … like Ingrid van de Loo, the Netherlands-bound F&B manager who uses Apicbase to handle stock and procurementfor ships that spend 6 months in the Arctic…
  • … and Jim Martin, the OEM for Allnex, who deployed Seebo to cut quality and yield losses by as much as 75% through elimination of kinks in Allnex’ production processes
  • … or Sergio Escribano, Horticola CEO, who has partnered with TOMRA to streamline the processing and packaging of veggies so only the best produce is shipped out.
  • … no more combing through countless spreadsheets because all your product data [from recipes and tech sheets to orders and vendor details] is available with a few clicks of the button…
  • … drastically reduced human errors [which leads to lower food costs] because Apicbase does the number-crunching and keeps track of all your F&B KPIs & monitors all BoH processes…
  • … seamless tech integrations across your operational ecosystem [POS, IoT, supply chain, personnel training] because Apicbase ensures your data is uniform, standardised, and usable.

Apicbase IS the digital transformation of your F&B operations



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Geert Merckaert

Geert Merckaert


I write about F&B Management Best Practices for Multi-Unit Food Businesses. My goal is to help you keep costs down, quality up and operations running smoothly.