From XU Magazine, 
Issue 21

Integrations: The Key to Modern Restaurant Management

When it comes to restaurant management systems, consumers are spoilt for choice. In the ever-changing market, choosing the right system is more than looking at its current features. As your restaurant grows, the needs of your business will change. And the best way to ensure that the system you choose will meet every need, both current and upcoming, is to look at its integrations…
This article originated from the Xero blog. The XU Hub is an independent news and media platform - for Xero users, by Xero users. Any content, imagery and associated links below are directly from Xero and not produced by the XU Hub.
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Throughout the decade, businesses have taken a noticeable shift in their approach. Gone are the days when a company can release a product with x, y, and z features, and move on. As a restaurant owner, you’re no longer impressed with what a system can do. Rather, you’re more interested in what it can do for you.

The Customer Is Always Right… At the Top

Arguably, very few industries have excelled in the customer-centric approach longer than the restaurant sector. At a time when Amazon was just a jungle and Apple was just your second favourite pie filling, restaurants were already experts at putting the needs and wants of their customers as their top priority. And so, for the software built for restaurants—from point-of-sale (POS) to management systems—it was important to share the same values in order to succeed.

With the customer-first strategy, restaurant systems are built with features that streamline every process a restaurant could require from table management to inventory, delivery, online ordering, kitchen, and more. Yet running a restaurant requires more than offering loyalty points and billing out customers. Payrolls have to be tracked, suppliers have to be paid, and accounts need to be balanced.

But if one system attempts to meet every requirement, including operations such as accounting and staff management, it risks sacrificing the quality of its features for mere quantity. It also risks its overall usability by overwhelming customers with too many choices. Instead of spreading itself too thin, restaurant systems meet the demand with a smarter alternative: third-party integrations.

All-round Business Solution

Third-party integrations seamlessly connect applications to share data with one another. With this, systems can focus on independently improving the features they specialize in, such as restaurant operations or accounting, and connect with each other to offer customers a total end-to-end solution.

Without integrations, you’d either have to settle for a setup comparable to an as-seen-on-tv multi-purpose kitchen tool that can do a hundred different things mediocrely, or ten great applications working independently while you manually input data between them. Not only would the latter be a waste of time, resources, and money, you’d also end up puzzling over inaccurate reports riddled with human errors. But by integrating the applications, the data is seamlessly shared and transformed into meaningful information, error-free.

The beauty of third-party integrations is that you can have the best restaurant POS system and the best accounting software working together instead of a sub-par application that attempts to do both. By integrating your POS system to Xero, you can take advantage of streamlined reports generated in a matter of seconds to give you a real-time and accurate overview of your restaurant’s performance.

After punching in the last order, you can immediately log-in to Xero to track the day’s sales, view outstanding invoices to suppliers, and calculate the month’s payroll. By seeing your sales, expenses, and payroll in one place, you’re able to easily manage your restaurant and make informed business decisions.

Built For Now and Built to Last

Integrations also give restaurants the flexibility to adapt to future trends. While you may have systems in place that meet your current requirements, you can’t be sure of the features you’ll end up needing later on.

For restaurants in 2010, no amount of research could have led them to foresee that, by the end of the decade, online orders from third-party platforms would make up a significant chunk of their profits. And while the best POS systems would have also been unable to predict the trend, they easily adapted by integrating with the platforms.

With an integrated setup, you’re able to receive orders from various online delivery platforms to your POS and straight to your kitchen. You can also manage your online store—from orders to deliveries—while simultaneously handling your in-house operations in one system. Most importantly, the integration seamlessly consolidates the data between platforms—from menu items to customers to sales reports.

Third-party integrations simplify the need for new software as your business grows and as market trends happen. When you choose systems that value integrations as much as features, you’re able to address a wider array of pain-points, both current and upcoming. You can cherry-pick the systems excelling in each of their categories and reap all the benefits. And even if an unexpected trend pops up out of nowhere accompanied by new software that deals with it, you could easily add it to your existing setup with just a few clicks.

Integrations are the best way to ensure that the various needs of your restaurant business are met. It’s a way for restaurant systems to say, “We offer x, y, and z features. But in case you also need 1, 2, or 3, we’ve got you covered.”

Why leave it there?

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