Technology

New tech helps restaurants digest their delivery data

Tools from ItsaCheckmate and Nextbite allow operators to see their third-party sales all in one place. The companies say it will save hours of wrestling with spreadsheets.
Delivery company stickers
Each delivery app has a different way of reporting sales to restaurants. / Photograph: Shutterstock

When it comes to dealing with data, it’s the little things that make a big difference.

Details as minor as the way a restaurant’s address is entered into third-party delivery apps—5th Street vs. Fifth Street, for instance—can prevent an operator from getting an apples to apples picture of sales at that location.

Inconsistencies like this can be fixed, but it takes time and labor. The more locations and delivery providers a restaurant has, the more cumbersome it becomes.

“It ends up being just really messy and frankly just unscalable to do manually,” said Luke Andrews, SVP of product for tech provider Nextbite.

Nextbite and fellow supplier ItsaCheckmate this week unveiled new products that are designed to automate some of that tedious data cleaning and reporting for restaurants.

Both companies have the same specialty that makes them well-suited for the job: They consolidate incoming third-party orders into restaurants’ POS systems. As such, all of their partners’ order data passes through their hands.

Clients have been asking if there was a way they could see all of that data in one place. “What we learned was, integration is great, but can we also get more detailed reporting on this?” said Vishal Agarwal, CEO of ItsaCheckmate.

Nextbite True Revene interface

Nextbite's True Revenue app shows a restaurants' delivery sales in one dashboard. / Image courtesy of Nextbite

This was easier said than done, because each app—DoorDash, Uber Eats, Grubhub, etc.—has its own way of formatting and presenting its transaction data (e.g., 5th Street vs. Fifth Street). 

“They would all be saying the same thing but in different ways,” Agarwal said.

The team at Nextbite learned this first-hand when it began building an in-house tool to do this very thing. The company, which also licenses virtual brands to restaurants, needed a way to ensure that what it was paying restaurants matched what they’d actually sold on the third-party apps.

It first tried to do this the same way most restaurant accountants do—by using Microsoft Excel to finesse the data from the different apps into a single financial statement.

Andrews compared the process to “looking for a needle in a haystack, but you have six different haystacks and those haystacks are being reloaded every week.”

“We realized really quickly that we were not gonna be able to do that long term,” he said. “We were gonna have to build some tools that do it intelligently.”

It has spent the past year developing software that translates disparate third-party data into the same language. Andrews estimated that the system has saved Nextbite hundreds of hours. It’s now making it available to its restaurant customers, who can use it to reconcile their own third-party delivery revenue.

The companies got some help this week from DoorDash, which opened its application reporting interface (API) to allow access to its raw data, which can then be easily standardized against other apps. Nextbite and ItsaCheckmate are the first tech suppliers to integrate with the API, and DoorDash said it’s looking for more.

If that sounds complicated, it’s OK. “Restaurants shouldn’t be concerned with the API,” Agarwal said. ItsaCheckmate users can simply go into their dashboard and click a button to view all of their third-party delivery data in one place. From there, they can slice and dice it to see things like total revenue, average check size and which products are selling the most on each app.

“They do not know how the sausage got made, but the final product is the bacon that they love,” Agarwal said. 

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