Inventory Planning Tips to Limit Food Waste

How much does your business lose on waste? While individual items might not seem like much, those numbers can quickly add up. When you're juggling online orders, a loyalty program, and POS integration, it's sometimes hard to remember your inventory management best practices. However, all the hidden food costs that eat at your commission mean that you need a better system.


That's why so many restaurants turn to online ordering software with a POS tablet integration to effectively manage inventory access, online sales, and even promotions or discounts that could impact inventory performance. To learn more about inventory and online order system best practices, here's what you need to know.


1. Simplify your inventory management system.

If you're using a legacy POS system or still depend on manual input to track delivery orders, upserve opportunities, and sales data, you're making it harder to see where waste occurs. Not only are these methods outdated, but they're also needlessly complicated. When you can't set up a customer data integration with your own website to track online orders or view stock levels, you must find ways to join separate processes manually. For a restaurant owner, this can negatively impact your bottom line. Many entrepreneurs and vendors choose to invest in streamlined POS systems that make online orders and inventory tracking a much simpler process.


When you invest in this online ordering platform, it can help you eliminate waste in real-time. You can more accurately forecast your inventory needs, predict incoming orders based on customer data, and connect online food orders from your restaurant website to your POS for more accurate tracking. On top of that, restaurant owners can worry less about human errors impacting brand performance. Plus, many modern online ordering software platforms enable you to review your inventory via a mobile app. Even if you're not at your small restaurant, you can still use your smartphones to take a look at your stock levels.


2. Rethink your menu.

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Depending on your food delivery orders, this can greatly reduce waste and free up inventory simultaneously. With the right ordering system, you're better-equipped to determine which ingredients are and aren't performing. You can then use your restaurant POS system to adjust future online food orders for that product. Then, you can tweak your menu to incorporate that ingredient elsewhere instead of wasting it or risking spoilage. Restaurants of all sizes depend on cross-utilization, not only for their profits, but also for their hungry customers.


The modern customer base often focuses on sustainability and clean eating. Restaurateurs can embrace this business value, utilize a reduced-waste approach in their marketing campaigns, and boost table reservations and curbside pickup requests. This boosts customer satisfaction for your brand, makes for easier menu management, and allows for the seamless integration of your online food ordering software and your restaurant POS. This allows for greater takeaways and valuable insights and allows you to rethink your inventory ordering experience to enhance cross-utilization and taper down waste.


3. Establish a routine.

While many corporate restaurant partners have company-wide inventory management standards, independent brands often struggle to develop lasting routines. While it's one thing to integrate your delivery platform, mobile device app, or online ordering website, it won't make much of a difference if you don't regularly review the pertinent data. That's why the next step is to establish an effective routine. For many brands, it's a good idea to do weekly checks, especially if you have a rotating menu or seasonal dishes. This is a great way to ensure product freshness for both in-person and online food requests.


On the other hand, brands with a more static menu may want to consider starting with weekly inventory reviews and then moving to monthly ones. However, the longer you go between your inventory reporting reviews, the more likely it is that you'll face higher levels of waste. With a routine, you can make it easier to support your delivery zones, avoid transaction fees for additional ordering due to low stock levels, and address customer needs.


4. Develop an inventory management team.

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When you have too many cooks, it's easier to muck up your inventory management. That's why it's important to create a team dedicated to ongoing inventory management tasks and reviews. The premise is simple in that it prevents these workflows from changing too many hands. You can even subdivide your team to greater effect. One member can handle the inventory reviews for phone orders and mobile ordering, while another can address customer support and its impact on free and discounted menu items. This is a good way to ensure that tasks stay consistent, though assigning team roles may not be necessary. For smaller teams, you may want to consider training each member on the inventory best practices.


Since your inventory can impact your takeout, dine-in, and online orders, you must have a team that can quickly spot points of interest and helps you make decisions. Usually, this team consists of admin-level staff members and managers. This applies to all kinds of brands, including cafes, drive-throughs, and fast-casual concepts.


Find the right platform for your needs.

When you need additional assistance with your inventory, there are a few third-party platforms to choose from. However, it's important to pick the platforms that help you with all the facets of your business. If you're hesitant to commit to a monthly fee, you can look for platforms that offer a free version or a product trial for new customers. The right vendor can help you integrate an online order system or POS that can greatly streamline your inventory operations, so you're avoiding waste wherever possible. However, you can't trust your brand's chance at success to any application on the market.


When you find the right inventory platform that meets your needs, you'll be surprised at how it boosts your delivery times, order turnaround, and bottom line. By working to eliminate waste throughout your business, you're adding money back into your brand's pool of resources. That's why restaurants everywhere need to use the right inventory practices.


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