Digital Future The Uber Effect On The Food Industry March 13, 2017 at 4:02 AM | Approx. reading time 3 mins. Startups with a loyal user base are entering the food delivery business. Digital enterprises such as Uber, Sprig and Good Eggs are combining accessibility and cost-effectiveness with unique offerings, such as healthy meals, organic ingredients and fine-dining experiences. On-demand food delivery companies provide an interesting learning for the operations-intensive food services industry: strike a balance between simple ordering and prompt fulfillment. Technology to better the customer experience The pioneers manage orders as well as customer expectations with technology as the main ingredient. Customers have an appetite for quality, but not at the cost of convenience. A digital order management system built on responsive design principles and mobile-friendly frameworks makes it easy to place personal as well as bulk orders via any device. It offers intuitive navigation, anticipates the consumer's tastes, and recommends products. When a customer orders seared fish and salad, the system can suggest a sauce that enhances the meal. A hospitality enterprise placing an order for weekly supply of poultry, vegetables, flour, oil, and cling wrap film, will save time, and maybe even another order, with an alert for drinks, fish and spices. Advanced digital systems combine simulation tools, geospatial analytics, machine learning, and artificial intelligence to curate shopping lists and fill gaps in a shopping cart based on purchase history or macro buying patterns. It can also help chefs plan a menu by presenting themes based on preferences, ingredients or nutritional value. Operations managers can analyze customer sentiments on social media and respond with a revised menu and better service. Robust order management platforms support chatbots and natural language processing to simplify ordering as well as payments. Doing more than serving meals A digital ecosystem delivers more than nutritious meals. An elaborate menu can incorporate distinctive features for each customer segment. A nutrition calculator app can allow health-conscious consumers to select items best suited to a specific diet plan. An interactive display of food colors will appeal to small bakers, who need to focus on presentation as much as taste. Consumers loyal to products sourced responsibly can be offered sustainability information along with product descriptions. Restaurant procurement specialists favor food shopping apps that blend the virtual and physical environment for on-the-move purchases. Digital food ordering systems unify data from the kitchen, suppliers, customer service, accounting, point-of-sale, warehouse, and promotion plans. Seamless data flow across business processes helps food distributors better manage inventory, services and resources. It reduces errors in accounting, while enabling diverse payment methods for online orders. Deliveries can also be planned ahead of actual orders by anticipating demand for specific items, zip codes and time-frames. It helps optimize delivery routes, accelerate turnaround, and rationalize inventory and logistics costs. A centralized order management platform automates performance management and facilitates automation. Visibility into order frequency, demand patterns, cuisine preferences, and abandoned carts helps streamline the menu / product list, and sourcing as well as supply chain strategies. Restaurants and food services enterprises need to take the lead in data management to make dining choices more accessible. The 'Uber effect' will help restaurants deliver what, when and where diners want to be served.