people dining in a restaurant
Omnivore wants to give diners more interactive experiences by integrating restaurant apps. PHOTO: Asa Aarons Smith

For anyone who likes to eat, Mike Wior is somewhat of a hero.

Wior is the CEO and co-founder of Omnivore, a San Francisco Bay Area startup that wants to improve the customer restaurant experience by integrating restaurant focused apps and point of sale (POS) systems into a unified system.

Think OpenTable, Yelp, delivery apps like GrubHub and UberEATS, restaurant specific apps and POS systems — all communicating with each other to provide a seamless customer experience.

'Ecosystem Experience'

Omnivore, launched in 2014, created a universal API that lets all these separate apps and systems work hand-in-hand to enhance the overall experience. Wior sees this as part of a larger goal of creating an "ecosystem experience," a much more interactive dining experience in the not too distant future.

How does it work?

Picture this: Your Uber app communicates with your Resy app and the restaurant can provide you recommendations for your upcoming meal based on orders made through your UberEATS app.

This is all running through the restaurant's POS system so the restaurant can leverage data to make recommendations on what's popular and can utilize your data to tailor offers to you. After you're done, the POS system can communicate with Uber so you get an alert to quickly schedule a ride home, with an ad including an offer to bring you back in the future.

Mike WiorThis is just a snapshot of what Wior thinks is possible under a future that Omnivore is helping facilitate.

"Technology is changing every aspect of the restaurant experience, creating a more integrated operation that ultimately results in a vastly improved customer experience," he said.

Restaurants: Highly Automated

One of the biggest immediate shifts has been in automation. The trend toward higher efficiency and optimization of the experience is already emerging in the form of various applications tied to virtually every element of the dining experience.

"From the apps that allow you to make a restaurant reservation by pressing a few buttons on your phone, to the transportation and ridesharing apps to get to the restaurant and the multitudes of delivery apps to bring a meal directly to a doorstep, apps are already giving diners more flexibility than ever before. 

"But, the technology behind all of this can also provide incredible new insights into restaurant operations and create customer service efficiencies in a more streamlined and profitable way," he said.

Addressing Competition

The experience of visiting a favorite local restaurant is already changing in a myriad of ways — some visible to diners and some hidden behind the scenes. But, these changes are likely to increasingly push to the forefront over the next few years, he said.

Wior thinks restaurants have to adapt to keep up with the competition and provide diners with a complete experience to maintain loyalty. "As technology evolves, consumer expectations evolve as well. Smart phone technology has created new consumer expectations. Convenience and immediate satisfaction are now not just expected, but demanded.

"Those that don’t change risk losing customer relationships. Diners will ultimately select the option that is most accessible and those who create proactive reasons for loyalty will ultimately reap the benefits the fastest," he said.

"Certainly, some small amount of restaurants will remain on the fringe. But without technology, the majority of restaurants will fall behind the curve, from their ability to achieve meaningful margins, attract customers and engage in off-premises channels."

Expanded Use Cases

As cross channel engagement grows more important, so do expanded opportunities for Omnivore, Wior said.

"When you book a dinner reservation on vacation, wouldn’t it be nice if your phone asked if you wanted a ride when it was time to leave?

"It would be nice to be welcomed to a restaurant where Anheuser Busch sees that you enjoy drinking lagers and would like to buy you a new product they just released. After your meal is complete and the check is paid, another alert would go out asking your ride service to come pick you up.

"That notice could thank you for drinking responsibly and notify you that this ride is on Anheuser Busch with hopes that you enjoyed the new lager. In that way, customer loyalty is boosted seamlessly as well."

Changing Restaurant Marketing

Ultimately, he thinks Omnivore could impact the way restaurants are marketed by captalizing on consumer behaviors. 

"Today, brand consumer packaged goods (CPGs) spend more than $70 billion every year in incentives that largely go to waste," he said. Using patterns of behavior, Omnivore wants to enable a new model of directly engaging consumers in real time while they are enjoying their night out.

By engaging these consumers through technologies in restaurants and on their phones, Wior thinks he can generate more meaningful, educated marketing that "will bring value rather than distractions" to customers, "thus providing more worthwhile opportunities for restaurants to convert consumers to new brands."

"Love that bottle of Kim Crawford wine whenever you go to your favorite restaurant? Apps can see that, and could offer you 20 percent off a case of wine for your home, for example.

"By giving restaurants the opportunity to leverage the experience they are already providing while showing consumers new products, restaurants have the opportunity for new revenue streams. Brands are desperate to engage in productive advertising channels. This is the holy grail for brand powered consumer engagement; restaurants deserve to profit from these opportunities."