Solink Blog

Helping retailers and financial institutions to be data-driven

Solink Loss Prevention expands into the U.K. with Too Many Clouds after 400% growth in North America

April 25, 2017
Solink has partnered with Too Many Clouds to bring data-driven theft detection and cloud-based video management to multi-unit brands in the U.K.. Ottawa, Canada- April 25, 2017– Solink Corp. (“Solink”), the fastest growing loss prevention solution for SMB, is expanding into the U.K. market with the help of Too Many Clouds, the leading distributor for cloud services. The partnership will make it easier for multi unit and franchise brands in the UK to migrate to a cloud-based security system and proactively tackle theft in their stores. Solink entered the physical security market with a radically different belief: the value is in the data, not the hardware which primarily funds this multibillion dollar market. Solink’s  focus is on using data analytics to improve the way QSRs and retailers use surveillance video while giving away the hardware for free. By running advanced analytics and learning algorithms on the store’s data, they can pinpoint potentially fraudulent activity at a high accuracy. With the added advantage of video integration, users can validate a flagged event in real-time without manually searching for the video footage. This approach has resonated with many franchise owners across Canada and the United States, frustrated with buying bulky security systems while still seeing shrink and cash shortages in their stores. Solink has grown 400% in the last year and expanded into Canada’s largest coffee and donut shop. “Our clients are seeing incredible results from using Solink. They used to spend countless hours investigating a single event – they now get a summary of all suspicious activity with one-click links to the video. Everyday we hear from customers who are gaining more insight from their operations and increasing profitability. Too Many Clouds believes in our vision to radically transform the spend in the security industry from infrastructure to actionable insights and they have the expertise to help us expand into the U.K.” Mike Matta, CEO of Solink. “Ensuring our partners and their customers have access to the most innovative and technically competent technologies is one of our missions. This partnership with Solink further endorses the great work we do behind closed doors for our customers. The technology works, it saves money whilst ensuring resilience and security to the businesses who use the product. Everyone we are speaking to can only find positive things to say about Solink and this makes us all proud, that technology like this in the digital age is the way forward. I would urge all businesses interested in securing their business and preventing losses to get in touch” – Jazz Padda, Managing Director of Too Many Clouds About Solink Solink is the leading cloud-based video recording and loss prevention solution for multi-unit brands. The software automatically matches in-store transactions to video, analyzes the data to identify potential fraud, and sends important notifications to the owner so they can take action quickly. Solink is completely mobile so you can remote access video and transactions from multiple stores. We’re dramatically reducing investigation times while keeping a close eye on

17 photos that prove Tim Hortons is a Canadian Christmas tradition

December 23, 2016
No one would argue that sipping on a Tim Hortons coffee during a white Christmas is one of the most Canadian things ever. This post was created not only to honour that tradition but also to honour Tim Hortons franchisees for being an important part of our company’s growth and the evolution of our technology over the past year. One of the first people to use Solink was Chris McCluskey, a Tim Hortons franchisee. He believed in the vision that our little startup was after and has contributed countless hours of feedback and referrals to help get Solink to where it is today. In the beginning of January 2016, only 7 Tim Hortons restaurants were using Solink’s Video Recording and Loss Prevention Solution. Now, at the end of the year, nearly 300 Tim Hortons restaurants trust us to protect their business. Thank you to those franchisees! Check out 17 photos that prove Tim Hortons is a Canadian Christmas tradition. Share if you agree! A photo posted by Kevin Hua (@kevhua) on Dec 18, 2016 at 5:12pm PST A photo posted by @bellamyortho on Dec 21, 2016 at 9:49am PST A photo posted by Anna Nguyen (@aanguyenn) on Dec 21, 2016 at 6:11am PST A photo posted by Igor Pugdog (@igorpugdog) on Dec 21, 2016 at 5:51am PST A photo posted by Alex Truong (@alext3012) on Dec 19, 2016 at 11:57am PST A photo posted by Blake (@blake.gray.highboy) on Dec 11, 2016 at 1:12am PST A photo posted by Diane Buttazzoni-Barrow (@dibutz) on Nov 9, 2016 at 8:02pm PST A photo posted by ☆ iredLa regina ☆ (@i_regina) on Dec 20, 2016 at 12:53pm PST A photo posted by Kim (@chaosnbliss) on Dec 20, 2016 at 12:21pm PST A photo posted by Tyler Dyck (@tylerrdyck) on Dec 18, 2016 at 11:57am PST A photo posted by Duke (@h.duke10) on Dec 21, 2016 at 10:14am PST A photo posted by Lisa Hughes Photography (@lisahughesphoto) on Dec 20, 2016 at 10:57am PST A photo posted by Jennifer Gordon (@jennifergordon_) on Dec 20, 2016 at 9:44am PST A photo posted by SarahElizabethGradeen🇸🇪🇨🇦 (@sarah_gradeen_) on Dec 16, 2016 at 3:06pm PST A photo posted by Sabrina Jaffer (@sabrinaj_xo) on Dec 12, 2016 at 2:55pm PST A photo posted by 🌹 Venus de Milo Incarnate 🌙 (@mademoiselle.pamplemousse) on Dec 12, 2016 at 12:13pm PST A photo posted by Dave (@slammed66gmc) on Dec 11, 2016 at 12:49pm PST

Your Feature Requests: Improving full text search

April 18, 2016
At Solink, we’re continuously working to enhance our text search capabilities and make it easier for you to use your data. An integral part of this process is looking at our user feedback and feature requests. A few days ago we received this message from Kevin, one of our users, through our live support chat: Kevin, your suggestion was great and yes, it is possible! Improving Text Search   To get an exact phrase match, wrap your search terms in quotation marks: “front cash 2” Use Boolean Operators to create search term combinations: AND, OR, NOT. (must be capitalized) A couple examples 1. If you want to find all the transactions from your front cash #2 of $3.06 that don’t include a muffin, use the search bar and type: “front cash 2” AND “amount: $3.06” NOT “muffins” 2. If you want to find all transactions with a void that have either a dark roast coffee or a large steeped tea in the order, type: void “dark roast coffee” OR “large steeped tea” As you can see, there are infinitely many search combinations you can create. Give this new feature a try and let us know how it worked for you. If you have any other feature requests, please send them to us and it might just be part of the next update. Stay tuned!  

8 Ways to Cut Costs With a Cloud Video Surveillance and Security System

February 5, 2016
Security systems are a large capital expense for any business. There’s upfront deployment costs, maintenance, and the inevitable hardware upgrades. (Has replacing your analog cameras to IP been on your wish-list for a long time?) But your security needs don’t have to hurt the bottom line. Cloud video surveillance and security systems are becoming the top choice for small to medium-sized businesses- those who typically have between 3-16 cameras per location. Here are 8 characteristics of cloud-based security systems that make them more affordable, flexible, and easier to manage compared to on-premise solutions: Lower setup and deployment expenses: A cloud-based deployment model doesn’t require the capital expenditure for traditional on-site servers. In addition, many add-on devices can be displaced by modernized software solutions. For instance, there’s no need to buy a text inserter if the video management software includes transaction integration. Data Security: The physical location of a server doesn’t determine how secure it is so local storage isn’t inherently more secure. Cloud infrastructures have multiple layers of encryption in place and user authentication. The difference is that you don’t have to maintain the servers yourself or hire someone to do so: the cloud provider does this and the cost is shared among all the people using the service. OTA updates (over-the-air): A cloud architecture allows software updates to be delivered wirelessly to your devices. Your system can be updated with bug fixes and security improvements without having to replace the existing hardware. Access to data on the go: A huge time saver for multiunit restaurant owners is being able to access transactions, surveillance video, and other in-store data from anywhere. With cloud solutions, you’re not limited to viewing your data one store at a time or only when you’re on-premise. The systems should provide a secure web and mobile application to centrally manage your data. Streamline processes: Another benefit of having a single platform for your data is reducing the complexity of investigations. You don’t need to sign in to multiple system, drive to your business location, or manually match POS to video data when investigating potential fraud in your business. Eliminating these inefficient processes saves countless hours of work. Takes up less space: A cloud-based system would also help SMBs who simply don’t have the space to place a dedicated server on-premise, like in the back office of a restaurant. Remote system monitoring and support: In a cloud environment, your security provider can remotely monitor the health status of your system and notify you if there’s a problem, such as a camera going down. In such a case, a technician can try to fix the issue remotely before sending someone on location. Managing all systems from a central interface reduces on-site visits and improves response times to threats. Scalability: Cloud-based security systems are easier to standardize and deploy across multiple locations. A great time to look into cloud security options is when you’re planning on expanding. Opening a new store is a big investment and this is one area

Complete Guide to Using Yelp for Restaurant Franchise Owners

January 21, 2016
There’s a false belief that Yelp, one of the most popular online review sites, is only useful for local businesses. But this certainly isn’t the case: restaurant franchise owners are risking their brand reputation by not paying attention to online reviews. There’s also the belief that most online reviews are negative, since people are more motivated to complain about a bad experience than to mention a good one. This makes some restaurant franchise owners hesitant about getting involved with online review sites. If you’re one of those owners, you’ll be happy to know that statistics from Yelp, TripAdvisor and other online review sites all show that the majority of online reviews are positive so there’s no excuse not to start. Here are some best practices that restaurant franchisees should know about online reviews: By simply acknowledging a negative experiencing and offering to fix the situation, a lost customer can be turned into a loyal fan. Most negative reviewers don’t expect a response, so you can give them a pleasant surprise. Responding to both positive and negative reviews serves to humanize the brand. Look for trends in what people are saying. This will help you identify recurring problems that need to be addressed. Online reviews are a source of information about your customers and the competitive environment. Having a few negative reviews won’t hurt the brand, in fact they help to reinforce that the positive reviews are authentic. Important To Know: Customers can leave reviews for your business on Yelp even if you never signed up and created a profile, so there’s a good chance that you already have a Yelp page based on your location. To take control of your page, search on Yelp for your location and select “Claim this business”. It’s free and allows you to update the company information, respond to reviews, add photos and more. Getting started with your Yelp restaurant profile Firstly, update all company information (address, contact information, store hours, price range). The “More Business Info” section below store hours allows you to specify things like whether you offer delivery, accept credit cards, if parking is available, and other frequently asked questions so be sure to fill it out. The photos section is where you have the opportunity to make your listing stand out. Yelp released a feature exclusively for restaurants that classifies your photos (and those uploaded by reviewers) by category, including food, interior, outside, drink and menu. Having a large variety of photos makes your location more memorable for readers. One mistake that restaurant franchise owners make here is to use the chain’s brand photos. Uploading photos that are taken at your own location (whether professionally or simply on your phone) makes your Yelp profile more authentic. Readers will appreciate it and the effort shows that you care. To see the difference, let’s compare two photos. The first is a professional photo and it looks great. However, it doesn’t say anything about a particular Second Cup location that we’re looking at. This second photo

Easy way to integrate your POS systems to surveillance video without a text inserter

January 18, 2016
Transactions and surveillance video contain a large amount of the information used when investigating potential theft. The problem is that these are two completely separate data systems and surveillance video has to be manually scrubbed to find the right footage. As a result, gathering evidence around a particular transaction or employee can take hours, and few business owners have the time to do that. Using a Video Text Inserter is one way to integrate point-of-sale (POS) systems to surveillance video. But text overlay is not an ideal solution for a number of reasons: it blocks the video screen, making it difficult to see what’s happening transactions can only be linked to a single camera, so you can’t get multiple angles text inserters can set you back hundreds of dollars, especially if you have multiple business locations they provide limited options to search the video Using a modern software solution, you can easily match your transactions to surveillance video for less than the cost of a single text inserter. Not only is it cost effective, but it will help you to significantly reduce the time it takes to detect and investigate theft in your business. Matching POS systems to surveillance video Video and Transaction Matching (sometimes called Transaction Integration) is a system that allows POS transactions to be automatically matched with surveillance video. Essentially, the surveillance video is “bookmarked” at the time when an event or transaction occurred. Events can then be searched, shared, and alerted on. Unlike traditional text overlay, transaction matching allows for more advanced search and analytics capabilities in addition to connecting multiple cameras to a single event so you can get a better view. Rapid investigations across multiple stores Another benefit of using a software solution for transaction matching is that it brings all your data together so you can search for evidence across multiple POS systems, cameras, and store locations simultaneously. You can quickly find similar or related transactions using a combination of filters, including date/time, employee number, product names, payment methods, transaction types, etc. See below for an example: Taking it a step further: Proactive Loss Prevention The search capabilities are extremely useful for when you are trying to find information around a specific transaction or group of transactions. But you can take it a step further. Similarly to exception-based reporting, the system can look for signs of theft among all the transactional and video data coming in based on pre-established parameters. For instance, it can monitor voids and employee discounts and send an alert when a void is above your comfort zone. This is a game changer for small business owners and franchise operators as it allows them to focus on more pressing areas of the business while the system is running 24/7, looking out for potential theft. Employee theft is the leading cause of both retail shrinkage and restaurant industry losses. Luckily, business owners are able to turn to affordable software solutions to help them mitigate this risk. If you haven’t integrated your POS systems and cameras, ask us how you can get started (hint: it’s

Solink Release 3.7.4 Updates

November 13, 2015
The new Solink release of 3.7.4  is now available to our partners and customers. The updates are listed below along with instructions on how you can start using them. If you have any questions or feedback, please contact us: Live Page (v2.0.9) For Solink Connect recorders only (QNAP and Lenovo) Save Video in .mp4 format for review or distribution in any common video player 1. Look for the “Save Video” icon on the timeline control panel 2. Navigate to the desired footage you’d like to save by zooming-in on the timeline 3. Click the “Save video” icon on the timeline control panel 4. You will be asked to validate the start/end-time – click “Ok” Custom start/end time when browsing the timeline 1.Navigate to the correct date through the calendar picker 2. Click “Custom” and enter a start & end time to zoom the timeline 3. Change military time to standard time (AM/PM) 4. Button tooltips displayed with mouse hover (save image, save video) 5. Full screen button on each video Web Interface (v3.7.4) For Solink Connect recorders only (QNAP and Lenovo) Have ‘Viewer’ role that can only access the Live page New user profiles allow specific users to only see the “Live page” 1. Click on Users – Either add or modify an existing users 2. Under “Role” change to “Viewer” On next login the user will only have access to the Live page Connect (v1.5.2) For Solink Connect recorders only (QNAP and Lenovo) Multiview page can be run independently (without links to other Connect pages) In the Solink Recorder, when clicking on “Live”. This will take you to the “Multiview” page. This page can now be used as a spot monitor without access to the VMS camera Edit page. Cameras can be edited from any remote location by enabling the spot-monitor view. HIK cameras should allow setting the bitrate (instead of quality) Only for QNAP When adding or modifying existing cameras (Click “Edit” on any camera) For HIK cameras a “bitrate” monitor has been added to manage bitrate. Bug Fixes Web Interface: Reports export to excel in proper format Dashboards automatically add new controllers, ability to dynamically pick up all controllers in a folder so it’s easily extendable. Video not available notice on events page general dashboard bug fixes Solink Connect Multiview page uses flash player, which crashes intermittently. added auto-refresh periodically Developer support For Solink Connect recorders only (QNAP and Lenovo) Enable CORS for REST API Add ‘Viewer’ role to database Allow analytics to be run on posted images

The fastest way to conduct employee theft investigations

October 27, 2015
Employee theft is the leading cause for losses in both the restaurant and retail industry. Often employees that steal do so in small quantities over an extended period of time and this can really add up. So being able to effectively conduct an investigation is just as important as detecting signs of potential fraud in the first place. In this post, we outline inefficiencies that slow you down and how you can conduct effective employee theft investigations. What Slows Down Investigations Disconnected data systems: Information used in audits is gathered from multiple data systems, most commonly Point-of-Sale (POS) and surveillance video. These data systems are completely separate from one another so many business owners find themselves manually looking through video to match it to a list of transactions they want to review. This process can take hours. Not knowing the exact time and location of a transaction. “Time and location search” is a basic method of investigating a transaction. It requires you to know the time of the event and location (store number, the exact POS station). But you can’t rely on always knowing this information. For instance, a customer complains about an order they made yesterday but they don’t have the receipt anymore.  Operating more than 1 store. “The more the merrier” isn’t always true. If your video and transactional data can only be accessed on-location, you are likely spending a lot of time on the road driving from one store to another. This is fine if you want to check up on your staff or spend more time with customers, but it’s a huge time killer when you just need to review a transaction. Exporting evidence to case management software: Having to export your evidence from one system and import it to a case management software is just another tedious step in the investigative process that can be avoided. The Solution: Software for managing employee theft investigations We worked closely with our clients to understand and address these issues. As a result, the Solink Loss Prevention system includes: Transaction integration (automatically links POS transactions to corresponding video) Easy to use Search and Filter tools A way to access the video and transactional data remotely (web-based application, mobile app) Built-in case management to keep all your evidence and case notes in one place Below is an example of how we went about conducting an investigation on employee discounts in a quick service/fast food restaurant but the same steps apply for a retail or financial scenario. Investigating employee theft in less than a minute Employee theft investigations can often be conducted based on groups of related transactions. For instance, we know that QSRs are vulnerable to theft when employees are able to apply discounts to orders. So we want to be able to quickly find these particular transactions among the rest. In this example, we have reason to believe that an employee Vera Gallo is abusing discounts so we want to find every instance in the last week when she applied a discount to a transaction. Step 1: All POS Transactions From the

Solink Integrates with Contextine’s Case Management Application

September 30, 2015
Anaheim, California- September 28th 2015 Solink is proud to announce the integration of its Fraud Prevention Platform with Contextine’s Case Management application. With this latest partnership, Solink provides users the ability to identify, investigate and escalate potential fraud all from within its platform. “Our customers love using our platform to identify fraud, but they needed to export the data once it came time to investigate.” says Michael Matta, CEO of Solink. “We streamlined their process by providing everything they need to complete investigations without leaving our platform.” This integration stems from a collaboration with one of Solink’s main customers, Check’n Go. Their risk team was having a lot of success using Solink to identify and review cases of potential fraud, but they still needed to export the data into a separate case management tool. “We’re very happy to have case management as part of the Solink solution, and getting here was a team effort. Their developers spent a lot of time working with our investigators to ensure that their new application featured the tools most important to our process.” says, Aaron Rogers, Head of Risk at Check ‘n Go. “We’re now able to take investigations from start to finish in less time and with better collaboration between our teams.” Contextine worked closely with Solink and select end users to built the case management application. Their application adds a number of new features to the Solink Platform, including the ability to create cases around Solink events, manage and assign users, link multiple disparate events together in one case view, and built-in collaboration and sharing tools. Contextine plans to continue working with Solink’s team to improve their case management application through feedback received from end users. “Partnering with Solink was a great opportunity for us because they are tackling video, one of the most promising yet challenging sources of Big Data. We are building applications that help businesses manage and leverage data in new and exciting ways, video data is a big part of that.” Suyog Raut, CEO of Contextine. About Solink Solink is a data-driven security platform that captures and audits 100% video and transactional data to reduce fraud proactively. Solink’s unique Video Discovery application allows users to search for any event, putting an end to manually retrieving evidence by time and location. For a monthly fee, the platform provides everything users need to collect, analyze, investigate and manage their data. Solink’s fraud prevention as a service offering is the first one of its kind to be data driven instead of incident driven. About Contextine Contextine is into building Case Management applications for financial institutions, Retail sector and others to help manage and track case investigations. Case Management Application allows you complete the cases investigations from it’s inception to the closure with simplicity and efficiency in the investigation process. To learn more:

Solink and QNAP Partner to Deliver Video-Based Fraud Prevention

September 28, 2015
Anaheim, California- September 27th, 2015 QNAP and Solink are announcing a technology partnership that enables QNAP devices to record and store video through Solink’s central data management platform. This partnership combines QNAP’s best in class storage devices with Solink’s cloud-based video discovery to deliver Fraud Prevention as a Service for multi-unit retailers and financial institutions. QNAP NAS solutions deliver high performance, scalable design, and efficiency for storage management in all business environments.  The QNAP NAS server is designed to ensure both smooth daily operations and trustworthy reliability, as well as low total cost of ownership.   Solink provides multi-location businesses with a complete package to prevent and quickly resolve fraud for a monthly subscription fee. Solink’s fraud prevention application is an ideal solution for businesses with distributed locations that want to centralize and access their data. The partnership allows flexible video storage options at the edge, centralized health monitoring, flexible notification options, and over-the-air upgrades for life pushed to all edge devices. There is no large upfront investment required because Solink works with existing surveillance cameras and transactional systems. “Our customers are interested in maximizing the use of our NAS devices across multiple business settings,” said Siimon Tsai, Country Manager, Canada QNAP Systems, Inc. “The partnership with Solink opens up a new level of applications in the video recording and fraud prevention space.” “We believe video adds context to data businesses already have – summarizing that information allows businesses to make data-driven decisions that are backed by video verification.  QNAP provides a world-class recording device that is flexible and reliable” said Michael Matta, CEO Solink. “With QNAP’s offering we are able to turn video into a proactive source of information for risk management.” About Solink Solink is a data-driven security platform that captures and audits 100% video and transactional data to reduce fraud proactively. Solink’s unique Video Discovery application allows users to search for any event, putting an end to manually retrieving evidence by time and location. For a monthly fee, the platform provides everything users need to collect, analyze, investigate and manage their data. Solink’s fraud prevention as a service offering is the first one of its kind to be data driven instead of incident driven. About QNAP QNAP Inc., as its brand promise “Quality Network Appliance Provider”, aims to deliver comprehensive offerings of cutting edge network attached storage (NAS) and network video recorder (NVR) solutions featured with ease-of-use, robust operation, large storage capacity, and trustworthy reliability. QNAP integrates technologies and designs to bring forth quality products that effectively improve business efficiency on file sharing, virtualization applications, storage management and surveillance in the business environments, as well as enrich entertainment life for home users with the offering of a fun multimedia center experience. Headquartered in Taipei, QNAP delivers its solutions to the global market with nonstop innovation and passion.  

Solink Introduces Fraud Prevention as a Service

September 28, 2015
Today, Solink announces the launch of Fraud Prevention as a Service as part of their new end-to-end, cloud-based security solution. “Our mission is twofold. First, we want businesses to have seamless access to all of their video and transactional data from anywhere, and second, we want them to be data-driven when it comes to addressing internal fraud.” says Michael Matta, CEO of Solink. “You can’t have one without the other so we created a solution to collect and centralize all your on-premise data and a fraud application called ‘Video Discovery’ to proactively identify abnormal behaviour. With this approach, we’re putting the emphasis on data, not hardware.” Solink provides all the infrastructure at no cost. They believe that putting data first means customers should never have to worry about hardware, end of life models, or maintenance and upkeep. The platform works with existing cameras, takes minutes to set-up and is built on the highest standards of security and encryption. Solink creates an incredibly simple tool for fraud prevention by integrating video with relevant data from existing business systems. Users can quickly identify outliers and suspicious activities across every location in their network. All suspicious events can be managed through an integrated case management application. Built-in reporting and notification tools will send automated notifications to proactively alert users of fraud, suspicious activity, downtime, or system failures. “With over 5,000 locations worldwide who are already using our fraud prevention software, we are excited to take our solution to the next level. Video Management Companies keep trying to convince customers that their video system is the solution to all their problems. Yet, we all know that using video alone comes up short almost every time. Our data centric model tells you where to find fraud, then uses video to verify it” says Rob Tucker, President at Solink. About Solink Solink is a data-driven security platform that captures and audits 100% video and transactional data to reduce fraud proactively. Solink’s unique Video Discovery application allows users to search for any event, putting an end to manually retrieving evidence by time and location. For a monthly fee, the platform provides everything users need to collect, analyze, investigate and manage their data. Solink’s fraud prevention as a service offering is the first one of its kind to be data driven instead of incident driven.

Big Data Becomes Competitive Advantage in Challenged Restaurant Landscape

May 19, 2015
Restaurant chains have a reputation of being laggards when it comes to technology. But this mindset is shifting: today’s industry leaders see technology and Big Data as a way to gain competitive advantage at a time when the restaurant industry faces many challenges. That was a resounding message at this year’s Canadian Restaurant Investment Summit (CRIS) held at the Hilton Toronto Hotel. Here are some key takeaways from the plenary sessions and panel discussions. Tabletop Devices, Self-Ordering Kiosks and Mobile Apps While most agree that technology in general is a competitive advantage, opinions are quite varied when it comes to the different types of devices and applications. The jury is still out on whether tabletop devices are improving the customer experience or making it less personal. John M Hamburger, President of Franchise Times, explained that both Chilli’s and Applebee’s have implemented tabletop devices where customers can order, pay and provide a review of their experience. But during a visit he noticed that the check out system defaults to a 20% tip. So customers are still encouraged to give a high tip even though servers are spending less time with them. He called this the Tipping Tariff and his prediction is that price-sensitive customers who recognize this disadvantage will switch to fast casual (FC) and quick service restaurants (QSRs) where tipping is optional or not required. On the other hand, pizza restaurant chains have seen tremendous value and a high customer adoption rate in using digital/mobile apps for order and delivery. According to the NPD Group, 60% of customers are open to using mobile apps at QSRs and full service restaurants (FSRs). Taco Bell tested a self-ordering kiosk and the results exceeded their expectations: the average check size increased upwards of 10%. What they realized is that customers were using more add-on options such as extra guacamole simply because these are more apparent on the self-ordering kiosks. This is a great example of how technology can simultaneously improve the customer experience and increase sales without necessarily attracting new visitors. Canadian Economy and Capital Market In a survey of restaurant chain executives, operating costs were indicated as the top challenge facing the industry in 2015, followed by costs of goods and labour costs. The oil and gas downturn, weak Canadian dollar and high household debt all raised concerns for the food service industry. Besides affecting disposable income, a weak Canadian dollar discourages Americans from traveling to Canada. At the same time margins are shrinking due to increasing commodity, labour, and input costs. Regardless of these challenges, there are still reasons to be optimistic about the Canadian restaurant industry. For one, investor interest in the industry is high, resulting in a positive lending environment. Michael Glen, VP Equity Research at Laurentian Bank Securities, noted that one of the trends that really stood out in 2014 was an acceleration of same store sales growth (SSSG). Among QSRs in Canada, A&W had the highest quarterly SSSG, followed by Tim Hortons. Big Data Driving Restaurant Decisions At