client story

Modern Restaurant Supply Chain Experience

A leading quick-service restaurant chain empowers restaurants with a dynamic, offline-first supply chain management experience.

Innovation Strategy
Digital Transformation
Unified Commerce


A leading quick-service restaurant (QSR) chain recognized the need to modernize the way their restaurants engage with the supply chain in order to keep up with exponential growth in sales volume. Previously, the restaurants were interfacing with the supply chain through outdated monolithic software that was created and managed as a service by a third party. This software suite was developed initially for accountants but heavily customized over the last decade to allow restaurants to place supply chain orders, manage inventory, and analyze forecast data.

The company’s stellar growth exposed several issues with their existing restaurant supply chain software and experience:

  • New software releases occur twice annually, making it nearly impossible to keep up with current restaurant feedback and requests for new features.
  • The user experience is archaic and clunky, making order placement and inventory management an error-prone process.
  • Order exceptions must be handled directly with distributors via phone and email, adding additional cumbersome steps for already busy restaurant teams.
  • Credit requests for damaged or missing products require 20+ data points and multiple images uploaded per product.
  • The software has limited offline capability, which is critical when working with frozen and refrigerated products where Wi-Fi is spotty at best. Often orders and inventory counts must be restarted from the beginning when connectivity is lost.
  • Only one user at a time can work on order placement or inventory tasks, significantly hindering efficiency.
  • The tablet experience is not easy or intuitive, often forcing restaurants to resort to pen and paper and then recording the data using a back-office desktop computer. 

The QSR desired to give their restaurants a value-added tool for managing their supply chain interactions, ultimately empowering them to spend less time managing their supply chain and more time serving their customers. They engaged Artisan Studios as the vendor partner responsible for fundamentally re-imagining how their restaurants interact with the supply chain, including inventory management, forecasting, suggested ordering, and credit processing.

Artisan began with an Exploration phase, a process where team members interviewed subject matter experts, hosted user focus groups, and worked directly in the restaurants to gain a deep understanding of users' pain points. During that process, the team analyzed the existing system's information architecture and began to streamline it based on the information gathered firsthand. The Exploration phase resulted in a conceptual design prototype that addressed major pain points.

After validating the prototype with restaurants and incorporating their feedback into subsequent iterations, the Artisan team worked with the client to define a minimally viable product (MVP) that launched in 2021 and become the basis for rapid incremental improvements driven by continuous user feedback. In parallel, Artisan began building out a technology stack that would scale with increased end-user usage and integrate with the various backend microservices strategically selected to power the experience.

The Artisan team continued to refine the concept during the Build phase of the MVP, keeping restaurant users actively involved and at the center of the process. Ultimately, the order management MVP launched with a handful of restaurants ahead of an aggressive schedule, which included:

  • An offline-first, tablet-friendly interface for placing orders.
  • The ability to quickly configure and maintain a real-time map of product locations throughout the restaurant for convenient and fast order entry.
  • The ability for multiple people to work on a single product order simultaneously.

As a result of this initiative, the client has experienced the following:

  • On time & on budget delivery – The MVP was launched on time and in line with the agreed-upon budget.
  • Overjoyed restaurants – The restaurants utilizing the new experience are genuinely thrilled to be using a modern off-line first experience. Other restaurants are beginning to ask when they can have access to the new system.
  • Reduced time to place orders – On average, the time to place a standard order dropped by 50% for restaurants using the new system.
  • No more pen and paper – Restaurants previously using pen and paper now prefer using a tablet to place their orders directly. In addition to providing restaurants with increased flexibility, the new experience is also promoting greener practices.

Following the success of this initiative, Artisan created a visual design system that will unify supply chain restaurant experiences across the company. The client has awarded Artisan a multi-year contract to build and roll out the rest of the new restaurant supply chain experience through 2023. Artisan remains the sole user experience partner for the QSR’s supply chain engineering organization.


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