From payments to ordering to engagement, the restaurant industry is seeing its fair share of food tech innovation. Much of the innovation seems to be targeted towards large chains who are often earlier adopters of technology, but this innovation foreshadows what could be around the corner for small quick service restaurants (QSR). We decided to take a look at one of the technology companies that’s raised a lot of money to make waves in the restaurant space.
Founded by computer graphic and 3-D animation pioneer Paul Sidlo in 2002, EMN8 offers a selection of customized digital meal ordering and customer engagement services for QSRs. Through online and mobile meal ordering systems, digital kiosks, and call centers, restaurants can update menus universally, suggest add-ons at the point of purchase to increase the average bill per customer, and potentially reduce staff costs by introducing digital menus. EMN8’s technology also lets restaurants track purchase histories so customers can easily reorder previous menu favorites. All of its services create robust data that restaurants can use to analyze customer preferences.
As we noted in our monthly Food Tech Media Startup Funding roundup, in June, ENM8 announced it had acquired Snapfinger, an online and mobile ordering platform for casual dining restaurants. Snapfinger’s latest tool allows in-store diners to open tickets in the restaurant’s point-of-sale (POS) system with their personal mobile devices, which give restaurants more customer data regarding dine-in and take-out meal preferences. Additionally, such technology could reduce service times for customers. The company also announced it had raised $50 million in growth funding, lead by Bass Associates and Allegis Capital, to make the acquisition.
EMN8 was already a major player among the crowded meal-ordering space, working with restaurant giants like Burger King, Domino’s Pizza, Jack in the Box, and Yum! along with smaller chains such as Sizzler and The Counter. By acquiring Snapfinger, ENM8 now provides its services to an increased share of the QSR and casual dining segment. “We really understand the challenges that multi-unit restaurant chains face, including how to balance corporate- and franchise-level initiatives,” says EMN8’s Chief Marketing Officer Hope Neiman in an interview with Food+Tech Connect.
Like MenuDrive and RRT, EMN8 can integrate with the vast majority of POS systems, such as Micros, Radiant, and PAR. What sets the company apart, however, is its ability to act as the sole interface with customers across all channels—web, mobile, in-store, and telephone. “EMN8 helps our clients develop more integrated customer relationship models so that all of their communications are focused no matter which service or platform that customer came through,” says Neiman. This unified touchpoint between the restaurant and customer aims to increase revenue and encourage repeat customer transaction. As such, EMN8 is seeing a lot of interest in its loyalty and offer engines from clients.
Digital ordering accounts for a growing percentage of sales for some companies who have already embraced the technology, representing approximately a third of all Domino’s US orders, for example. Restaurant startups like Sweetgreen are also embracing mobile payment apps and seeing significant adoption and engagement. Ultimately, EMN8 seeks to revolutionize the restaurant industry landscape through further technological enhancements in the mobile payment arena and improved customer engagement models. “I think there’s a big shift in a lot of the technology for ordering really becoming very impactful for guests,” says Nieman.