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.

internet of things abstract

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.

[ Get an inside look at 10 real-world digital transformations at today's leading organizations. | Learn the 10 principles of a successful IoT strategy. | Get the latest insights by signing up for our CIO daily newsletter. ]

"Franchisees love it because being able to look at what was poured versus sold is huge," says BWW CIO Santiago Abraham, who joined the company last November from Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines. "Whether it's an overpour or comps there's a lot of activities that you can get insights on to determine whether you've got a bar that is running an effective beer operation."

To continue reading this article register now

The CIO Fall digital issue is here! Learn how CIO100 award-winning organizations are reimagining products and services for a new era of customer and employee engagement.