As a dynamic and unique international restaurant brand, YO! Sushi was keen to exploit the potential of mobile technology. Operationally, it wanted to raise service efficiency and improve the payment process, freeing-up staff to engage with customers. And strategically, it sought to harness innovative technology to enhance its brand and coampetitive edge.
As YO! Sushi's long term Epos partner, Omnico implemented its ClarityLive Mobile solution, run in a virtualised IT environment. This handheld device-based software puts full Epos capabilities at staff's fingertips. Order accuracy and efficiency have been boosted, the payment process transformed, and the YO! Sushi dining experience has gained a new service edge.
Founded in 1997, YO! Sushi has become the UK's most iconic sushi brand. It has popularised its innovative and fun dining concept, with freshly prepared sushi and other tasty Japanese food served via a conveyor belt.
Clarity/Omnico has been YO! Sushi's specialist software partner since 2004, integrating the chain's disparate IT systems and implementing point of sale and IT management solutions. ClarityLive Enterprise EPOS software is at the heart of the YO! Sushi operation, providing IT management tools that allow full control of the estate: all from a central point at YO! Sushi Head office.
Commenting on the long established working relationship with IT partner Omnico, YO! Sushi's UK IT Manager, Billy Waters, says, "Delivering change in multi-site retailing is never easy. We like the fact that Omnico seeks to modify its IT solutions to suit our business, rather than the other way round. Their people really 'get' how technology can help engage customers and enhance the YO! Sushi experience."
YO! Sushi identified two specific aspects of their restaurant self-service process that they wanted to improve through the deployment of handheld devices to staff.
The use of colour-coded plates of sushi delivered by conveyor belt has always been a signature aspect of the brand experience, with waiting staff on hand to verbally relay drinks and special food orders to the kitchen. This verbal ordering system had a number of operational and commercial disadvantages. It fell to kitchen staff to record orders in writing, adding to their workload, and there was no time stamp on customer orders. Inevitably it left room for service errors and billing omissions.
Secondly, when a customer finished their meal, waiting staff would record the items consumed and prepare a docket for them at their table. The customer would then take this paperwork to the till booth, in order to pay. This paper-based system was open to inaccuracies, thwarted customer engagement, and made the payment process unduly involved.
Beyond these specific issues, YO! Sushi has always aimed to keep improving its service standards and advancing its edgy brand image. "We revolutionised the restaurant service with our conveyor belt delivery system fifteen years ago, and YO! Sushi still constantly seeks out new ways to engage with our customers and build on our cool and 'techie' brand image," says Waters.
Omnico's challenge was to develop handheld device-based software to support the fun and informal YO! Sushi service style and customer experience, while improving the efficiency and accuracy of the ordering and bill preparation processes.
The answer was to facilitate full Epos functionality at the tableside. Omnico delivered this with its ClarityLive Mobile software, run on YO! Sushi's preferred handheld devices utilising a virtualised IT architecture. ClarityLive Mobile liberates restaurant waiting staff to proactively capture and track orders electronically, and improves opportunities for customer engagement and upselling.
Armed with handhelds, roving YO! Sushi staff now have full Epos capabilities at their fingertips. Hot food and drinks can be ordered quickly and effectively at speed, and when a customer is ready to leave, their bill can be prepared and finalised live at their table, and is instantly available electronically at the payment booth.
"As we rollout the ClarityLive Mobile facilities to a variety of existing and new sites, we're quickly seeing wide-ranging benefits," says Waters.
Before staff had ClarityLive Mobile at their fingertips, they had to prepare a payment docket by documenting and totting-up all of the items on the table at the end of the meal. Now drinks and special order items are captured on mobile devices as each request is made.
When a customer finishes their meal, the waiter records their name and prepares their bill electronically, live at the table: any item queries can be quickly and confidently clarified. The customer then goes to the payment booth prior to departure, where payment is taken.
"It's a much more effective way of engaging with our customers, capturing information and serving efficiently," comments Waters, "This new system reduces the kitchen staff's workload, improves our billing accuracy, and greatly adds to our knowledge of customers' food preferences."
It was always anticipated that issues like service speed, payment efficiency and customer satisfaction would be enhanced by Omnico's solution: and they have been. "We estimate that we've reduced customers' time at the payment booth by 30 seconds, as well as improving people flow at our restaurants on all fronts - including when customers are waiting for a restaurant table or ordering takeaway," confirms Waters.
Putting the benefits of full Epos functionality in busy staff's hands was the original trigger for YO! Sushi embracing mobile technology, but it has spawned a variety of further, unforeseen advantages. "Enabling our staff to message each other easily improves communication during shifts: for instance, waiting staff can alert colleagues if there's a 'VIP' customer in the restaurant, whilst kitchen staff can notify the team instantly if a menu item becomes unavailable," explains Waters.
Training is another avenue that YO! Sushi is exploring: with video content increasingly accessed on mobile devices, new opportunities exist to deliver training to individual staff, when a group training session in the staff room would not be logistically or commercially viable.
Omnico's Alex Thorn comments, "Our mobile solution for YO! Sushi is a great example of how highly specialised and innovative technology can deliver on customer engagement and commercial challenges. We're delighted to be associated with YO! Sushi as the company's Epos IT partner, and look forward to contributing to its ongoing growth."