How We Made Order Handoff Reliable When Internet Is Not

by | Sep 7, 2022 | Blogs, Restaurant

internet failure

You’ve probably experienced internet outages at home. Maybe you were on a family video call and found yourself frozen onscreen. Or you waited and waited for a web page to display and ultimately had to give up.

In your home, internet reliability problems can be frustrating. In your restaurant, internet reliability can become a significant disruption to operation.

For example, over a five-day period, one of our restaurant customers experienced internet disconnect times between 1-½ minutes and 3 minutes per day. At first glance, that doesn’t appear to be a lot, but the total disconnect time was made up of multiple short disconnects occurring every hour of the day, with the longest being 18 seconds and many being longer than 10 seconds. Unfortunately, this is the rule, not the exception, in most restaurant environments.

In the not-too-distant past, on-premises store systems would have been unaffected by these internet outages. But, in today’s cloud software world, a consistent connection to the internet is vital to the normal functioning of cloud-based software programs like those used with food pickup lockers.

Virtually every contactless food locker solution on the market is controlled by cloud software. When they’re unable to connect to the internet, or face temporary outages, cloud systems will be hit-or-miss, and the promises of lower labor costs, efficient order pickup and delighted customers will melt away.

How outages disrupt staff operations

Picture a busy store with a large number of off-premises orders to be handed off via a typical, cloud-based food locker. The vast majority of orders will be picked up during the busiest day parts. The staff is experiencing intermittent operating failures attempting to load the locker due to short internet drops. This solution works most of the time but not always.

What is the likely result? After a few failed attempts, the staff will give up on using the locker and switch over to manually handing out orders, a labor-intensive process that foregoes all the benefits the locker could deliver.

A frustrating customer experience

Imagine the same store, but now let’s look at it from the customer experience. A customer arrives and scans or enters their code only to find that the locker doesn’t respond — it’s been affected by one of those brief internet glitches. The customer then flags down a team member who must manually retrieve the order and bring it to the customer.

What is the likely result? The promise of a delightful customer experience has been lost and the brand image has been hurt. And, like the scenario above, the staff will give up on the locker, forfeiting all the benefits it was designed to provide.

So, if virtually all contactless food locker solutions are controlled by cloud software and consistent internet connectivity is almost impossible to attain, are the scenarios above inevitable? In most cases the answer is “yes,” but Apex anticipated this problem and solved for it.

A way to keep working

OrderHQ™ Smart Food Lockers include a feature called Temporary Offline Failover that addresses the challenges of intermittent internet loss. During those daily internet glitches, the locker will process transactions locally and synchronize with the cloud once internet connectivity is restored. In other words, the cloud software is used opportunistically, when it is needed. In the scenarios described above, staff members will be able to load every order into the locker and the customers will be able to pick up every order from the locker.

Like all cloud systems, the Apex solution needs the internet and can’t operate for sustained periods of time without connectivity. However, sustained internet outages are rare. The challenge is dealing with persistent shorter or longer glitches in internet service that occur multiple times every day. A cloud-only food locker solution will be unreliable in that environment, but Apex Temporary Offline Failover provides continuous reliability day-in and day-out.

As a result, customers and staff are happy and all the promised benefits of the contactless locker solution are achieved, all day, every day.


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