Do you like Sushi? If yes, what makes sushi so good for you? It could be freshness. If it’s a conveyor belt sushi, “Kaiten Zushi”, timeliness also matters a lot. You want your favourite kind of sushi to come in front of you just when you are craving it.
AkindoSushiro, known as “Sushiro”, started with its first outlet in Osaka in 1975 and has become one of the most loved conveyor belt sushi restaurants in Japan with 625 chains domestically and 64 chains overseas as of December 2021. It actually utilizes its big data to provide what you want for sushi.
So what does Sushiro do?
IC tags for all plates
In 2012, Sushiro started to install IC tags on the bottom of all sushi plates. Each plate has a tiny IC tag which records 1) what kind of sushi is on the plate, 2) when the plate starts running on a conveyor belt, 3) when a customer takes that sushi, and 4) and which customer takes it. By having this tag, Sushiro has gained the visibility of what kind of sushi is ordered at which restaurant, which table, from what type of customers, and when. Every year, more than 1 billion Sushi data are collected.
Supply Instructions System
Combined with IC tags, Sushiro also introduced the Supply Instructions System that navigates chefs at kitchens which sushi has to be sent to customers in the next minute. It analyzes the data of customers’ basic profiles (adults or kids), how long it has passed since customers get seated, and how busy the outlet is. Based on the analysis and data collected from touch panel devices, it meticulously predicts customer demand and provides instructions on how much sushi ought to be sent to each conveyor belt. For example, Sushiro will know what kind of sushi is most likely to be ordered by a child after he or she enjoys salmon.
What are the benefits?
Now we know how Sushiro collects data but how do they benefit from it?
The key to good sushi is freshness. IC tags enable Sushiro to know how long a sushi plate has been running on a belt. For example, tuna will be automatically disposed of once it runs more than 350m on a belt. This allows Sushiro to maintain the freshness of sushi all the time.
- Food Waste Reduction
The Supply Instructions System guides chefs on which sushi has to be released on a conveyor belt dependent on on-demand needs. Chefs can focus on making sushi that will be likely ordered or taken by customers and eliminate food waste. As a result. the system has reduced the food wastage rate from 10% to 4%. It also contributes to the improvement in profitability by controlling the inventory more accurately.
- New Menu Introduction / Promotions
At the HQ level, Sushiro also makes use of data to understand the effectiveness of promotions and experiment with menus. No Surprise.
What made Sushiro succeed in introducing this “big data”?
Big data has contributed to the success of Sushiro but how did they implement it? One important thing to note is that Sushiro has never disregarded “Gemba” (the actual place in Japanese. In this scenario, chefs and kitchen). Sushiro focused on how they can systemize the experiences and understanding of Gemba rather than ignoring them. It strongly believes that the experiences that good managers have built are the irreplaceable assets of the company and sharing that know-how across all outlets is the most important factor to succeed. At the same time, they also acknowledge the risk of over-reliance on non-quantifiable guidance. Hence, the combination of data and good managers’ experiences was the solution for Sushiro and it keeps bringing joyful dining experiences for all sushi lovers.