In 2020, the restaurant industry finished $240 billion below their pre-pandemic estimated sales, according to Forbes. With no indoor dining, even restaurants that had previously resisted going digital were forced to pivot and begin relying on online ordering to keep their doors open.

Virtual restaurants need to consolidate food orders

One of the few bright lights in the restaurant industry’s darkest year was virtual restaurants. A virtual restaurant platform allows restaurants to manage all online ordering systems (UberEats, GrubHub, etc.) from just one tablet. They’ve helped thousands of restaurant brands nationwide streamline online ordering, drive millions of new orders, and add tens of millions of dollars of new revenue at a time when it’s needed most. 

To help restaurants expand their services further, NextBite offers several ‘Virtual Kitchen’ concepts — menus, branding, and recipes restaurants use to take and fill orders beyond their own brand while using their same brick-and-mortar kitchen. Typically, these establishments would need a different tablet for each ordering system (Gruhhub, Postmates, etc.) and each concept. But with a virtual kitchen platform, restaurants can easily field a higher number of customer orders and make menu and pricing changes across all platforms — from just one tablet.

Virtual kitchens need device management

As demand for virtual kitchen services grew in 2020 with increased food delivery needs, the team needed a hardware solution with more capabilities. When NextBite contacted Esper, the tablets provided to restaurants were off-the-shelf devices. They managed the devices with an MDM (Mobile Device Management) solution tied to the tablet’s brand manufacturer, which created dependencies between hardware and software. Essentially, both the hardware they provided to restaurants and the device management software were locked in with one company. 

NextBite’s tablets were facing end-of-life issues as the manufacturer planned to end production of that specific model.  Also, their device management program wasn’t going to work the same way on new devices — they would need to create new internal processes and retrain their staff. Not to mention, there was no guarantee this issue wouldn’t come up again in a few years at the next device’s end of life.

Device Manager Bruce Crenshaw explained, “When we signed up for our MDM, we went with the same company as our tablets because it seemed like the simplest solution. But we didn’t realize how restricted we’d be.”

With their previous MDM, the team also experienced a cumbersome setup, which meant they had to be in-store to help customers in the initial setup process. Also, with a rigid structure for setting user permissions and no option for remote device control, front-line customer service representatives had few resources for supporting restaurants with technical issues. Crenshaw explained that front-line customer service representatives didn’t have access to the previous MDM for supporting customers in the field. “We were limited in how we could issue permissions settings, and there was no option for remote control of devices. So our customer support team didn’t have the tools they needed to fix issues in real-time,” he said. “We needed a solution that works both for us and our customers. Our customers depend on these devices to operate their businesses every single day.

Ordermark’s requirements for a new technology partner included:

  • Ability to use Esper on both current and future devices — not limited to one manufacturer.
  • Flexible permissions settings.
  • Option to customize to better support customers remotely.
  • Pricing tailored for large, growing device fleets.

Run your virtual kitchen with Esper Android device management

Ordermark chose Esper for our ability to customize and pricing that’s in line with competitors – but with more functionality. But beyond out-of-the-box functionality, they also needed an innovative, flexible development partner who could support them in the long term. With services and offerings rapidly growing, they needed solutions to optimize customer support and future-proof their platform and devices.

Esper provided the following solutions: 

  • No-touch deployment with a customized APK.
  • Tooling for increased flexibility and the ability to deploy at scale.
  • Customized integration with SalesForce application 
  • Remote viewing for debugging and training.
  • Support with custom device manufacturer.

Improved customer service, time-to-market, and flexibility with Esper

Within just two months after starting talks, Ordermark switched to Esper and hasn’t looked back. Because device end-of-life concerns are no longer an issue with Esper, they could continue using the devices in the field and also work with a custom device manufacturer which Esper partners with to provide imaging for no-touch deployment. This saves time in setting up new clients, and restaurants receive working devices out of the box.

And with thousands of devices in the field and more on their way to market, Ordermark is now saving time and money because of customized permissions settings and application integration. Through remote viewing, first-tier customer support agents can provide immediate solutions.