Tapping IoT to monitor the flow of free beer

Buffalo Wild Wings has implemented a keg monitoring system in conjunction with integration software and APIs to curb beer comps at 1,200 locations, boosting revenue and increasing operational efficiency.

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Unaccountable product loss is a retailer’s nightmare. And for those in the restaurant industry, this loss can be summed up in two words: free beer.

Buffalo Wild Wings, the restaurant chain famous for its sauce varieties and microbrews, has deployed a sophisticated internet of things (IoT) solution to help staunch a pervasive restaurant industry challenge: The bartender who goes heavy on the pour and light on ringing in the sale. Thanks to this timeless grift, the average bar loses 24 pints from every keg.

Not at BWW, where a system called Beerboard, is reducing "beer shrinkage" associated with bartenders "comping" drinks to patrons or pocketing payments instead of putting cash in the register. That system, which taps an enterprise service bus (ESB), application programming interfaces (APIs) and gadgets call “flow sensors,” is leading to a direct revenue bump from beer sales that would otherwise have been lost from theft. The data doesn't lie; bartenders who slip drinks to their favorite customers on the sly can't fool Beerboard.

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