Article origin: ComputerSweden
Freely translated by West

Digitized fast food is getting us to eat more hamburgers – Max has found the recipe


Swedish hamburger chain Max notes that digital channels already account for half of its sales. In a short time, online has evolved from a support function to what drives the business.

It is not just the music industry, the banking world, taxi services and the retail chains that digitization is turning upside down. In the fast food sector, firms are working flat out to digitize their businesses.

At Swedish challenger Max Hamburgare, half of its sales now take place via digital channels, among which they include their express check-outs, that is, terminals with touch screens where customers themselves can click to what they want and pay, and the company’s mobile app. In May, Max is to open the first of its restaurants to be totally adapted for digital sales. Located in Umeå, this will incorporate considerably more express check-outs and more in-restaurant digital screens, as well as a remodelled furniture scheme.

“We have restaurants where digital sales are up at 70%, but on average half of our sales are digital”, says Johnny Bröms, CIO at Max. “To us, this is good, partly because it results in higher average spends. At check-outs, customers are more stressed, while with digital ordering they have more time and we have noticed that this lead to add-on orders, such as dipping sauces or other side-orders. Digital ordering also prevents queuing in the restaurants”.

Bröms says that in its restaurants over the past two years Max has generally changed from operating 6-10 physical check-outs and 2-3 express check-outs to, as now, up to 11 check-outs and 2-3 physical check-outs. The company has a little over 100 restaurants and – according to the latest available figures, from 2014 – sales of SEK 2.2 billion.

Max Hamburgare bases its entire IT operations on Oracle’s Micros Fidelio platform, the software giant’s system for the restaurant and hotel sector – in which Johnny Bröms also serves as a member of the international council of experts.

“We want the entire technology platform to operate seamlessly, from the mobile app to reporting and sales statistics. In that respect, it seems to me that we differ from similar business, which operate more as islands. That’s why we have Micros Fidelio underpinning everything”.

Max started digitizing its business in earnest in 2007, when the first express systems were introduced. At the time, IT was mostly a support function, but as time has passed this has developed into what drives the business. However, the technology was initially not mature and it did not account for any major portion of sales.

“The first few years were OK, but nothing more. But we learned and developed our digital strategy and after that sales started taking off.

Two years ago, Johnny Bröms stepped across into the company’s management group. At the same time, they added another gear to the digitization process. They developed an all-new Oracle-based sales platform. They bought in new express check-outs, which are operated on the platform. Last year, they also launched a mobile app based on the same system, enabling customers to order and pay in advance. In the first year, the app gained a million users. It is linked to card payment and Paypal, but they are also looking at new payment methods.

“Swish is something we’re looking at. Also, mobile wallets are developing all the time, and we’re monitoring what’s happening with Apple Pay and Android Pay. There are a lot of interesting developments on the way. For example, the possibility of combining positioning with facial recognition. For that, you don’t even have to take out your telephone when you’re paying, because the check-out can see immediately that it’s you. But that’s still quite a long way off”.

However, the IT department itself has a staff of no more than eight. Instead of drawing on internal resources, it orders services from suppliers such as Oracle, Atea and EMC.

During the past year, Max has received several acknowledgements of its progress in technology. One recognition of Max’s leading position came when the company was this year named “Mobilized Company of the Year” at the Swedish Mobile Awards, beating off competition from Länsförsäkringar Bank and Liseberg.

And how are its competitors placed? There are one or two “ranked” operators, after all, for example McDonalds.
“They haven’t rolled out their express check-outs on a major scale in Sweden yet, but obviously they’re working on this too. But as far as I’m concerned, it’s only to the good if others are working on this – it helps customers to get used to it. Then, once it’s become standard, it will after all also be adopted by smaller chains as well”.

Mattias Malmqvist