Restaurant technology has made significant progress in the past decade, with innovations like mobile ordering and delivery, new point-of-sale technology, mobile-enhanced loyalty programs, advanced back-end systems and automation of food preparation methods.
Restaurants can broadly be characterized into two segments: “convenience” and “experience.” Convenience restaurants use technology to increase production capabilities, simplify delivery, and enhance payment options. Experience restaurants use technology to improve accessibility, make it easier to book a table and order, as well as minimize wait times.
Regardless of which segment your restaurant falls into, to achieve a competitive edge you should look to incorporate new technologies to manage staffing, front-end guest services, and kitchen operations. In this article, we present technologies that will help your restaurant deliver a convenient and fast service in the digital age, and stand-out from competitors.
In this article:
The current state of technology in restaurants
Which technologies should your restaurant use
The bottom line: digitization can give your restaurant an economic edge
The Current State of Technology in Restaurants
Technology is helping restaurants provide faster, higher quality, more accessible service. Nowadays, 80% of patrons browse menus online before they choose where to eat.
21st-century customers demand instant gratification and make choices according to their previous buying experience. There are numerous applications that let them choose a restaurant, book a table and even pay via their smartphone.
The restaurant industry as a whole may be a little late to join the digital revolution, but restaurants around the world are starting to apply technologies such as mobile apps and menu tablets to improve customer service. In some Asian and Middle Eastern markets, 68% of customers use a mobile app to order takeout. However, only 32% of North Americans order food through a smartphone application.
The following statistics show this customer-driven trend:
90% of customers search for an online review to help them select a restaurant.
79% of U.S consumers say that restaurant technology improves their dinner experience.
70% of smartphone users view restaurant menus via their phones.
Despite this growing demand, only 16% of restaurants have a mobile app. Some restaurant chains are using self-service kiosks or tablets for menus, but still most food businesses are not fully digitized. Due to low adoption, there is tremendous potential to improve efficiency, save costs and improve customer experience, and distinguish yourself from your competitors in the industry.
Which Technologies Should Your Restaurant Use?
As we said, technology is an essential component of your customer experience and satisfaction. There are many tech and digital tools that your restaurant can leverage:
For hotel and restaurant managers scheduling the work week can be one of the most challenging tasks. Shifts need to be scheduled while factoring demand with availability of employees. Technology helps to alleviate this. Shift scheduling software can automatically generate a weekly work schedule for all employees and rearrange schedules to accommodate shift swaps or time off directly via the application.
Customers can use branded restaurant apps to view menus, make a reservation, order food, and pay via their smartphones. The application collects information about their location and preferences, and this data can be used to target your potential customers and even implement customer retention programs. They may also be used as a direct marketing channel to send offers and coupons or process online orders.
Smart transportation solutions
As your customer’s experience begins the moment they leave their front door, ensuring that they are easily able to access your restaurant is crucial. With more cities discouraging personal car usage, integrating a smart transportation solution to your website can give your restaurant a competitive advantage. All you have to do is to add a web widget to the digital asset of your choice. This way, your customers will be able to book seamlessly their rides to and from your venue, together with their table.
An increasing number of customers order online takeout, with the percentage of online orders growing from 22% in 2011 to 68% in 2018. Companies like Domino’s Pizza and Starbucks are using this to their advantage, allowing customers to order, pay, and arrange pick-up or delivery online.
When staff members receive customer orders online, they tend to make fewer delivery mistakes, as miscommunication is minimized. On your website you can also take advantage of the time visitors spend by providing special offers to attract more customers. Data collected online can also be used to understand customer preferences to help improve future menus and create personalized deals.
The Bottom Line: Digitization Can Give Your Restaurant an Economic Edge
Food businesses are notorious for having dangerously thin profit margins. According to The Chronicle, average profit margins for restaurants across casual, fast food, and full service segments are around 6%. There is a desperate need for improving economic efficiency, reducing costs, and improving customer experience without impacting a food business’s fragile economics.
Restaurant technology can do just that—tech like scheduling software, mobile apps, smart transportation and online ordering can help restaurants generate more business, serve customers with less manual work, and improve competitive appeal at the same time. To survive the digital economy and start improving the bottom line, restaurants increasingly have no choice but to go digital.