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Curbside pickup and delivery are here to stay. Can your technology keep pace?

In March 2020, as initial responses to the COVID-19 pandemic began to take shape, one thing that quickly became clear was the impact that the pandemic would have on the quick-serve restaurant (QSR) industry. The first wave of lockdowns and other restrictions severely tested the operational capabilities of most QSRs. Then, as the pandemic spread, shifting customer behaviors created new challenges as people began to adapt to limitations on dine-in options.

Almost immediately, QSRs saw a massive increase in demand for takeout business, curbside pickup, and home delivery as customers’ preferred dining options.

Initially, it was hard to know if changes in customer behavior and the growth in curbside pickup and delivery would be sustained, or if it was just a short-term adaptation that would eventually return to pre-pandemic levels. As restrictions eased and dine-in options returned, however, it became clear that the QSR model has changed permanently.

Recent research reveals that 54% of people surveyed have used one or more restaurant delivery options since COVID-19 began, and 46% report that they’ve used curbside pickup *. So, it’s no surprise that many QSRs are seeing a massive surge in traffic and orders for curbside pickup and delivery.

Today, QSRs are settling into new operating models that account for growing numbers of customers who are picking up digital orders in person, as well as those who prefer curbside pickup or home delivery. This puts more emphasis than ever on the efficiency and convenience of the systems that QSRs have been using to fulfill customer orders.

Initially, as the pandemic took hold, many QSRs were stuck using existing systems that simply weren’t up to the increased volumes that they were starting to see. That resulted in added labor costs, longer waits for customers, and a negative impact on the bottom line.

For most QSRs, the key to enabling seamless pickup and delivery options lies in their technology systems. They recognize the need for fully integrated point-of-sale, mobile computing, and data capture systems that allow them to collect, process, and manage their digital orders as effectively as possible. Accordingly, many operators are taking a long look at their existing systems to determine if they really have the tools they need to ensure inventory is in place, to fill orders efficiently, and to provide safe, convenient service.

When leading QSR chains and independent restaurants determine that their existing technology systems limit the efficiency and convenience of their curbside pickup and delivery options, many look at new solutions based on industry-proven mobile technology and data capture systems from Zebra. They’re finding that implementing Zebra technologies helps them transform their businesses to meet changing customer demands, fulfill new safety expectations, and stay ahead of their competition.

Zebra’s portfolio of best-in-class solutions includes mobile computing, barcode scanning, barcode labeling, and RFID tools that are designed to integrate easily with QSR systems and enable more automated and streamlined workflows for curbside pickup or delivery.

For example, many QSRs are combining Zebra’s TC52 touch computer or ET5X tablet with a Zebra ZQ110 mobile printer to create an integrated system that allows them to manage curbside orders, process payments, print receipts on the spot, and deliver exceptional customer service. Others are choosing Zebra’s touch computers or rugged tablets as multipurpose devices that support mobile customer service in the front of the house while also providing the built-in barcode scanning capabilities they need to manage backroom inventory.

The key step is to realize that the QSR model has changed forever, and new technology can give you the flexibility you need to keep pace.

Regardless of how you’re managing pickups or deliveries at your restaurants, Macro Integration Services and Zebra can deliver a range of QSR technologies that adapt to virtually any workflow and help keep your operations running smoothly. Contact us today!


Why Planning for QSR Mobile Device Maintenance Pays Off

When it’s time to deploy new mobile devices across multiple restaurants, most of the focus is on defining your business needs, choosing the right devices, and making sure the rollout, training, and support are smooth and seamless.

That all makes perfect sense because those should certainly be the focal points, especially in the short term. But when you’re planning a mobile deployment, you should also think about maintenance.

For example, think about the following questions:

  • If your mobile devices need maintenance, servicing, or repair, where will your restaurants go for help?
  • Who is going to provide troubleshooting and support?
  • Who is going to do the maintenance and repair work if needed?
  • Will work be performed on-site, or will you need to ship devices for depot repairs?
  • Are you going to keep a pool of spare devices so you can swap out a device with a new or refurbished one while it’s out for servicing or repair?
  • How will you keep track of your support, maintenance, or repair cases?
  • Are you confident that you have the right plan, procedures, and technicians in place to support your devices over the long haul?

All of these are crucial questions to ask because planning for mobile device maintenance and having a good strategy in place can save you a lot of time and cost over the life of your hardware investment. It’s also critical to ensuring that an unexpected support, maintenance, or repair issue doesn’t get in the way of your restaurant operations.

This is why we recommend that you explore service plans available from your technology provider and your hardware manufacturer. A good service plan provides answers to all your key support and maintenance questions going into your deployment. That way, you can stay focused on those other near-term implementation goals while still having a great plan for how you’ll support and service your devices over the long term.

Here’s a quick example of how our Macro Integration hardware services and maintenance plans work for our clients, and why they’re so beneficial.

Support and Maintenance Services

When they deploy mobile devices and restaurant technologies such as tablets, mobile computers, barcode scanners, and printers, most of our customers choose to add support and maintenance services to protect their hardware and maximize their return on investment.

Our support and maintenance services include options for a variety of services:

  • Help desk support to investigate issues and determine if servicing is needed
  • A single point of contact through a dedicated service delivery manager
  • On-site or depot repairs by factory-authorized and highly experienced technicians
  • Management of new or refurbished devices to swap in for out-of-service hardware
  • End-to-end reporting and tracking for all support and maintenance cases
  • Additional hardware and support coverage through Zebra OneCare for Zebra devices

Here’s some more detail about each of these options and how it works.

Support: There When You Need Us
The idea behind our support services is simple: you call or email, and we answer. You have a Macro Service Delivery Manager who serves as your primary point of contact and helps you customize your support and service plan. Our technicians are prepared to respond quickly when needed.

We help you investigate any issue with any hardware device you’ve purchased through us, and we’ll quickly determine if there’s any problem at all and whether it can be resolved through troubleshooting, a required software or firmware update, or maintenance or repair.

We do it all through a web-based portal and knowledge base that allows everyone involved to share information, communicate seamlessly, and track any support case or repair when needed.

On-Site Maintenance
If servicing or repair is required and your service agreement includes coverage for on-site maintenance, our factory-trained and certified technicians will provide preventative service or repair on location. We quickly get to your restaurant to perform service or repair, or swap out your device for a replacement in the event that a more extensive depot or manufacturer repair is required.

Depot Repairs and Advanced Exchange
For cases requiring more extensive repair, or if you prefer to receive a spare device to swap in for any hardware that needs to be taken out of service for maintenance, we offer depot repairs and advanced exchange.

In this case, we ship a spare device to you as soon as possible, and you can ship the device that needs servicing to us. We then evaluate your device and perform maintenance at our repair depot, or we send it to the manufacturer if it requires a repair covered under warranty. We can then place that refurbished or repaired device into your spares pool for future use in the event of another servicing requirement.

Alternatively, we can come to your location to bring a spare and take another device back to our repair depot. In either case, you get prompt and outstanding service, and you have the option to use advanced exchange from a spares pool that you own or that we own and maintain for you.

Return to Service
When devices are taken out of service, we do the work to get them back in optimal working order and return them to service, so they can be used in your spares pool or reused elsewhere.

We service, repair, clean, test, reload, and repurpose your hardware, documenting the refurbishment and the testing standard for each piece of your equipment. This way, you have peace of mind that it’s ready to be redeployed into your enterprise.

Case and Maintenance Tracking
When you use our support and maintenance services, you’re in charge. We provide you with real-time information on all support and maintenance cases and their status. Our Macro Contract Portal displays each site, device serial number, part, and all related contract coverage terms, so you can have confidence that your devices are accounted for accurately. An RMA Portal also enables you to search and find the exact status of your device or part with a live link to the tracking information.

Zebra Support Plans
For our QSR customers, we strongly recommend Zebra QSR tablets, mobile computers, barcode scanners, and printers for their exceptional durability, reliability, and low total cost of ownership. Another big advantage is Zebra’s OneCare support services.

Zebra offers a number of support and repair services under the OneCare umbrella, which we can roll into any support and maintenance contract that you set up with us at Macro Integration Services.

These include options for comprehensive coverage for accidental damage and wear and tear, 24/7 dedicated support, standard or express repair turnaround times, on-site repairs, extended warranty coverage, software and security updates, and much more.

With these options, Zebra provides coverage and flexibility for virtually any support and maintenance need and preference, and our team at Macro Integration Services can help you choose the right option and make it part of your services contract with us.

Getting Started with Your Device Maintenance Plan

A good maintenance plan goes a long way toward making sure your mobile device deployment is successful and that you get the most value out of your hardware investment. Hopefully this article has helped you understand those benefits and why maintenance should be part of your deployment plan from the very earliest stages.

The good news is that it’s easy to get started by reaching out to us for more advice and to explore services that can help you through every step of the way.

To learn more about device maintenance planning, service options, and how to figure out the best choices for your business, contact us now at Macro Integration Services. We’d be happy to help.

Great Tools for QSR Digital Loyalty: Zebra’s Presentation Scanners

Digital loyalty programs are a big part of quick service restaurant (QSR) marketing and sales strategy these days. Ideally, your loyalty program should be integrated into every point of sale, not just at your front counter or in the drive-thru, but also at any digital kiosks you may be using.

Fortunately, there’s an easy way to make sure you and your customers can scan loyalty cards, coupons, and QR codes—even on a mobile device screen or when customers are engaging in self-service ordering.

Our partners at Zebra have a complete portfolio of scanning solutions specifically designed for restaurant point-of-sale and digital loyalty requirements, including hands-free presentation scanners for the front counter, hybrid handheld and presentation scanners for the drive-thru, and fixed-mounted imagers for integrating with self-service kiosks.

These solutions deliver a number of great features and benefits:

  • Contactless presentation scanning
  • Fast and first-time capture of 1D/2D/QR barcodes, IDs, and loyalty cards
  • Easy pairing and integration with point-of-sale software and hardware
  • Simple device configuration—just scan a barcode to apply all your settings
  • Durable and reliable performance that lasts years in restaurant environments

At Macro Integration Services, we’ve been helping many of our restaurant customers deploy these Zebra scanners as they install or upgrade their point of sale, so they can incorporate digital loyalty at every customer touch point.

As is always the case with Zebra products, our customers are extremely happy with the level of quality and performance they get from these scanners, and even though they have some of the most advanced scanning capabilities available on the market, they’re still incredibly simple to set up and use.

Here’s a quick rundown of some of the specific Zebra presentation scanners we recommend.

DS9300 Series Scanners
The Zebra DS9300 Series features hands-free presentation imagers with a compact profile that fits virtually anywhere. It’s also has a great, sleek look that adds a bit of style to your front counter or checkout.

This device also provides rapid fire, best-in class scanning speeds by just swiping a barcode or QR code past the scanning window. Zebra’s PRZM Intelligent Imaging technology ensures a successful scan the first time, every time—even on challenging barcodes. The DS9300 also has the widest field of view in its class, delivering an all-around level of scanning performance that no other device of this type can match.

DS9900 Series Scanners
Zebra’s DS9900 Series scanners are really 2-in-1 hybrid devices. They’re designed with a built-in base and a sturdy one-piece design, so you can use your scanner as a standalone presentation scanner or pick it up and use it as a handheld device.

Like the DS9300 Series, it has the same Zebra PRZM Intelligent Imaging technology with unparalleled scanning performance on 1D and 2D/QR barcodes, even if they’re poorly printed or damaged. You also get the same rapid-fire speed with first-pass read rates and wide field of view, so you can keep your point of sale moving.

DS457 Fixed-Mounted Scanners
Zebra’s DS457 Fixed-Mount Scanner Series delivers fast, high-volume, and hands-free scanning of virtually any barcode, including 1D and 2D/QR codes.

Regardless of the type of barcode that’s presented and whether it’s printed on paper or displayed on a mobile phone screen, the DS457 provides super-reliable scanning in a tiny footprint that fits in the most space-constrained areas. It can be used as a standalone scanner in front counter or drive-thru service areas with minimal room for extra equipment, or you can integrate it into a self-service kiosk.

Where to Get More Info and Pricing on Zebra Presentation Scanners

If you’re planning to install or upgrade the point of sale at your restaurants, or you just want to add better digital loyalty program support to your existing point of sale, we highly recommend Zebra presentation scanners. They’re a great way to ensure you can scan barcodes and QR codes on loyalty cards, coupons, or mobile device screens.

To learn more about Zebra presentation scanners, how to integrate them with your point of sale and digital kiosks, and get pricing, specs, and more information, contact us at Macro Integration Services. As a Zebra-certified partner, we can provide you with expert advice and solution information, as well as outstanding pricing for your business.

Call us at 336-931-0674 or use our contact form to email us directly.

How to Deploy and Manage Zebra QSR Mobile Devices Remotely

Over the past year, many quick service restaurants (QSRs) have learned how to minimize contact while still delivering quality food and beverage service, and keeping their operations running efficiently.

But there’s one area where QSRs are still creating unnecessary safety risks as well as extra cost and inefficiency; it’s in how they are managing the mobile technologies they use in their restaurants.

Most restaurant chains are still sending out an IT specialist to deploy, configure, update, and manage the many mobile devices they use across multiple locations. This means someone has to travel and visit each restaurant to do the work in person, which creates more risk for everyone involved. But it also takes up a lot of valuable time for a busy IT professional, and all those travel expenses add up to more cost on the bottom line.

However, just as we’ve learned to maintain social distancing and implement new safety measures to protect QSR workers and customers, we can learn a better way to manage mobile devices and do it remotely.

Our mobile technology partners at Zebra make it easy with their Mobility DNA tools, which allow QSRs to manage any Zebra tablet, mobile computer, barcode scanner, or printer remotely via the cloud. You can do it all from the safety of a home office or company headquarters, so there’s no need to travel or visit each restaurant location individually.

With Zebra remote device management, you get a comprehensive solution:

  • Remotely deploy, manage, and update all your devices from a single location
  • Manage any number of devices remotely, across all your restaurants
  • Configure devices and apply firmware, OS, and security updates remotely
  • Put an end to unnecessary travel, in-person restaurant visits, and related costs
  • Do it all with a simple three-step process that’s vastly easier than other solutions

Zebra’s remote device management is incredibly easy to use and is entirely cloud-based, so you can access the software and use it securely through a web browser on any device with an Internet connection.

It’s also designed to be as simple as possible, so even a non-IT professional or manager can use it intuitively and effectively. If you’ve tried remote management tools from other hardware manufacturers, you’ll notice the difference right away, as Zebra’s software eliminates the cumbersome hassles and headaches that are commonplace with other tool sets.

Our customers who use Zebra’s remote device management consistently report that it’s completely changed the way they manage all the mobile computing and data capture solutions they use in their restaurants.

Even when they’re deploying new devices, they’re able to ship devices to each restaurant and simply have a manager or team member power up the device or plug it in. Then their home office uses Zebra’s cloud-based device management tools to configure each device, apply updates, and monitor device health and performance.

Zebra also has many other helpful device management tools available through its Mobility DNA enterprise software, including the following:

  • StageNow to automatically stage up to thousands of devices with a quick scan of a barcode
  • Device Diagnostics to troubleshoot issues or potential problems and avoid costly or unnecessary repairs
  • PowerPrecision Console to manage device batteries and battery health more efficiently
  • Device Central for easy management of Bluetooth accessories
  • Device Tracker to easily track or find lost or missing Zebra devices
  • LifeGuard for Android with up to 10 years of guaranteed OS support, including OS and security updates

Zebra also has great tools to enhance mobile productivity and make restaurant workflows easier, including the following:

  • Enterprise Home Screen to create customized mobile device home screens designed for the way your restaurants work
  • Enterprise Keyboard to create custom alphanumeric virtual keyboards for faster and more accurate data entry
  • Swipe Assist to enable virtual data capture buttons on mobile computer screens
  • DataWedge to send scanned data from barcodes, magnetic stripe cards, or RFID tags to any application you’re running
  • SimulScan tools for scanning documents, form fields, and signatures

If you’re not already managing your Zebra QSR mobile devices remotely, or you’ve tried other solutions with other hardware and haven’t gotten the results you need, we highly recommend Zebra’s Mobility DNA software and remote device management.

To learn more about these tools, how they work, and how they can simplify your device management and let you do it all remotely, contact Macro Integration Services now for a demo and more details. We’d be happy to help you explore the possibilities for your restaurants.

Using Tablets for Drive-Thru Line Busting and Efficiency

Ever since the COVID-19 pandemic hit, quick service restaurants (QSRs) have been managing a whole series of challenges—keeping drive-thru lines moving quickly and efficiently is just one of them.

Many QSRs have seen big increases in drive-thru traffic as patrons have looked for quick and easy alternatives to traditional dining out. And others are facing challenges with how to keep the drive-thru moving while adding new lanes for curbside pickups or managing pickups in the parking lot.

These are among the reasons why many of our QSR customers are turning to tablet mobile computers to improve drive-thru efficiency and avoid long lines that can drive customers away. Leveraging mobile technologies is a strategy that began long before the pandemic, especially among leaders in the restaurant industry.

For example, a few years ago, a major fastfood chain picked up on a drive-thru strategy that had been used by an innovative competitor for years. To help reduce wait times and long lines in the drive-thru, select restaurants in this chain started sending staff members out to the drive-thru line, equipped with tablets to take orders at car windows.

Specifically, the company chose to deploy Zebra’s ET5x series enterprise-grade tablets to give workers access to their point of sale and ordering system in the drive-thru lane. This allowed them to get orders into their system faster and give customers instant gratification in being able to place their order and know that it was already in process.

Ultimately, these locations started mobilizing its ordering and point of sale whenever needed, and they were able to get more customers through the drive thru quicker. A competitor had used a similar approach for years, especially during busy times when lines could easily end up snaking through the restaurant parking lot and onto nearby streets.

At the end of the day, if you can avoid those long lines, it eliminates a highly visible deterrent to additional business because many customers will see those lines and simply keep on driving to the next competitor.

Another advantage of using tablets for mobile drive-thru ordering and other mobile customer service functions is that a tablet has more screen space to present menu items and options as well as your point-of-sale screens. Workers find this really helpful in making the ordering and payment process fast and easy to execute, with fewer switches between screens.

With Zebra’s ET5x series tablets, you can also speed up the whole process thanks to its easy-to-use and intuitive Android operating system, plus 8-core processing power, memory, and Wi-Fi speed that an enterprise device can deliver.

You also get unmatched battery power, which addresses one of the biggest issues with trying to use consumer-grade devices such as an Apple iPad or a standard Android tablet.

Most consumer iOS and Android devices are designed for more casual use, not for full-shift workflows that involve order entry, running business apps, and scanning loyalty cards and coupon codes. These activities rapidly drain the batteries of consumer-grade devices, and things get even worse when you also need to run higher screen brightness outdoors.

The end result is that many devices can only last a couple of hours before needing to be recharged, but Zebra uses advanced, long-life batteries that provide full-shift power. There’s even a hot-swappable battery option so you can simply change out a battery and get even more power without powering down your device or interrupting your workflows.

The ET5x series also extends battery cycle times with 2×2 multi-user, multiple input, multiple output (MU-MIMO) technology, which allows access points to communicate with multiple devices simultaneously and shifts wireless processing from mobile devices to access points.

All of these capabilities add up to a high-powered workhorse device that’s a great choice for mobilizing your workforce and point of sale, processing orders and payments, and keeping your drive-thru moving at an ideal pace for your customers. You can also use the ET5x series in other areas of your operations, including curbside pickups, inventory management, and counter service.

If you’re looking for ways to reduce lines and wait times in your drive-thru as well as boost efficiency throughout your restaurant, a tablet should definitely be on your list of solutions to consider.

To learn more about using tablets for your QSR workflows and the Zebra ET5x series, contact our team at Macro Integration Solutions to find out how to integrate tablets with your point of sale to start delivering faster, more mobile and convenient service. Call us at 336-931-0674 or visit our contact page to get started.