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Cloud Computing

A Taste for Cloud

How Max Hamburgerrestauranger is becoming Sweden’s latest breakout star

by Rob Preston

August 2016

When you think of Sweden, which images come to mind? An iconic film director? A hugely successful pop music group? Inexpensive, assemble-yourself furniture?

How about hamburgers to die for?

Unknown to most people who live outside of Scandinavia is a fast-food restaurant chain with 120 locations that boasts some of the best burgers (and, increasingly, healthier fare) in the world.

PA16-Cloud-MaxBurgers-illo

Max Hamburgerrestauranger AB, founded in northern Sweden in 1968, is now looking to expand beyond Sweden, Norway, Denmark, and the United Arab Emirates—first to Poland and potentially to other countries in Europe. The company, a pioneer in environmental sustainability, is serving up not only high-quality, freshly cooked food but also a digital customer experience that few, if any, of its much larger international rivals can match.

Kiosks strategically placed at every Max restaurant let customers select food (including a variety of special sauces) and drink items from an easy-to-navigate, custom-built interface; place and pay for their order; and then retrieve it at the counter within minutes. The company’s mobile app, available for iOS and Android devices, gives customers the option of ordering and paying for their meals in advance, so meals are ready for pickup at a designated time and restaurant location.

Orders placed on those digital channels now account for half of the family-owned company’s approximate €270 million in annual sales—about 70 percent of the sales at some restaurants, says CIO Johnny Bröms. What’s more, the average order value per kiosk transaction is higher than at the conventional in-restaurant point-of-sale “tills,” and orders from the mobile app are still higher, he says.

“When you look at the competition we have today—the McDonald’s restaurants of the world—it’s huge,” notes Bröms, who was recently named 2016 Executive of the Year by tech advisory firm Management Events. “But we’re actually ahead of them today in terms of technology.”

Cloud Vision

All of Max’ sales channels are built on top of Oracle Hospitality RES 3700, an on-premises, point-of-sale restaurant enterprise solution that lets users schedule staffing, manage inventory, and report and analyze key data. Max connects the Oracle Hospitality RES 3700 systems to its mobile, web, and kiosk channels using Oracle Hospitality eCommerce Integration Cloud Service.

Now, as the company looks to expand into other countries—via both wholly owned restaurants and franchise partners—Max is migrating that core technology platform to the cloud, specifically to Oracle Hospitality Simphony Cloud Service.

It’s actually a two-step migration. Bröms and his team are first testing an on-premises version of the Oracle Hospitality Simphony platform, due to roll out in the fall, “so that we can see that all of the integrations are working exactly as we want,” before moving to the cloud version in 18 to 24 months, he says. Parallel to that work, Max is moving its kiosk functionality to Oracle Hospitality Simphony Cloud Service to give small franchisees access to that functionality from the get-go, under what Bröms calls a “loosely coupled solution.”

Why move a fully functioning restaurant management system to the cloud? He cites several reasons:

  • One global, centrally administered platform will make the company’s expansion into other countries a lot faster and easier. Even technically unsophisticated franchisees can get onboard quickly.
  • Centralized administration also delivers a consistent guest and brand experience across locations; simplified data reporting; efficient application updates; and control of menus, pricing, and promotions.
  • An Oracle team regularly updates the system—which supports multiple languages and currencies, as well as ever-changing tax codes and other fiscal requirements in each country—so that Max doesn’t have to.
  • Oracle Hospitality Simphony Cloud Service supports an array of operations features. It’s also highly extensible—Max can expand and add brand-differentiating capabilities.
  • A cloud solution is more cost-effective and secure than multiple on-premises solutions. Max, with only a small IT team, will not have to invest in servers, storage, firewalls, and related technical support for each restaurant, letting Bröms and his team focus their budget on more-strategic initiatives.
  • Last but not least, Oracle Hospitality Simphony Cloud Service is a reliable, always-on solution. If a restaurant’s internet connection goes down, in-store operations continue uninterrupted and the accumulated sales data posts to the cloud automatically when the connection is restored. “That supports the business much better because there’s less risk that you lose all of your ways of operating the restaurant,” Bröms says.
Data, Data Everywhere

Max’ philosophy on data is a simple one: As a cost-conscious, quality-obsessed, customer-focused company, “we measure everything,” Bröms says.

When you look at the competition we have today—the McDonald’s restaurants of the world—it’s huge. But we’re actually ahead of them today in terms of technology.”–Johnny Bröms, CIO, Max Hamburgerrestauranger AB

“It’s always about finding better ways to satisfy the customer,” he says. “That’s the biggest challenge: to understand the customer. We always have to be listening to them to make sure we deliver the products they want in a way that they want to interact with us.”

Using the data reporting and analytics capabilities of the Oracle Hospitality RES software, combined with a third-party application, Max and its restaurant operators can now assess real-time data in a range of areas—sales, labor, inventory, discounts, tenders, guest counts—from any location. (Oracle Hospitality Simphony Cloud Service promises to make that reporting and analysis even easier.)

That data helps the company and its operators figure out where to open restaurants and how to lay out each one; create detailed staffing plans for each location; make better-informed restocking decisions; compare financial results among locations and against budget or history to see if business adjustments need to be made; negotiate better deals with suppliers; track promotional campaigns against sales; and identify which kiosks at a location are producing the most sales for a given product.

For example, when Max launches a campaign for a new product, such as a healthy veggie sandwich, it can view hour-by-hour, day-by-day how well that product is selling—on a restaurant, geographical, and enterprise level. It then can assess whether to add that product to its standard menus, perhaps only in certain countries or regions. Max restaurant operators also do A/B testing on kiosks within their locations, using different navigation and menu variations to see which ones perform best.

Nick Low, a senior solution manager in the Oracle Hospitality food and beverage unit, compares all of that collected data to sawdust in a lumber mill. “What do you do with all of this data left over?” he asks. “You’re repurposing it to make sure that you’re servicing your guests correctly. It used to be mostly about cost efficiencies—‘are my costs in line?’ Now it’s more about improving the customer experience.”

Action Items
  • Hospitality Management in the Cloud
  • Photography by Shutterstock