The restaurant industry is constantly evolving. Typically, those shifts have been subtle and center around the newest food fad or updated gadget, but the last year or so has brought a transformation in ordering and service unseen since the start of fast food. Contactless services and automated technologies have been around for some time, but the pandemic was a catalyst that created a sweeping tech impact on the entire foodservice industry.
Today, technology-driven foodservice operations are becoming even more mainstream. The tech world moves quickly, and staying on top of the latest trends is important for all operations to keep a competitive advantage. This post will explore some of the latest tech advancements and how they affect customers and operations alike.
Contactless ordering conveniences
About 40% of Gen Z and Millennials say that access to technology encourages them to dine out more often. The convenience of digital menus and ordering capabilities is here to stay. Some new food ordering apps even have voice command abilities that allow customers to order takeout or make a reservation with just a few words (a hands-free option that can be especially helpful in a multi-tasking world). Augmented reality menus are another fun way to order food and explore different food items. These types of menus use a QR code that customers can scan to see a three-dimensional picture of the dish, along with a description. The saying, “A picture is worth a thousand words,” is accurate, and these menus are an incredibly effective way to communicate tasty food options to customers.
Touchless payment options
Dirty money is a reality, as are dirty credit cards, debit cards, and anything else that gets passed from person to person. Touchless payments are a convenient solution that comes in many forms such as, QR-code, mobile wallet, biometric or facial recognition payment, and Amazon One (payment via a simple wave of the hand). These types of payments are becoming more prevalent in operations everywhere, and their convenience resonates with consumers. In fact, a recent survey showed 61% of customers expressed that touchless payment options were a preferred feature on their debit or credit card. Having one or more touchless payment options available in your operation is a smart move that will please your customers.
Benefits of tech for foodservice operations
More than 80% of foodservice operations state that technology gives them an advantage. Online ordering provides conveniences for customers, but it also works in favor of foodservice operations. Digital orders decrease the order-processing time for staff (providing employees with more availability for other tasks) and often increases order accuracy. We live in a progressively digital world where most people are online throughout the day. The gain in online orders reflects that trend, and it’s projected to keep rising with delivery services expected to triple by the year 2023. Offering online ordering can boost your establishment’s digital presence and bottom line.
Advanced point-of-sale (POS) systems are a benefit for payment processing, but they also help operations track inventory, store customer analytics (helping to personalize marketing strategies). In addition, newer systems can even help with staff management by tracking employee’s time at work, monitoring detailed sales activity (including tips), and providing digital employee schedules.
Another innovative technology that’s a win for food service is geofencing. This technology (with the help of a downloaded app and an opt-in from the customer) works to inform establishments when the customer’s mobile device is within a specific vicinity of the restaurant (or if they’ve just pulled in). The kitchen can fire up the order and be sure that the menu items are at their best temperature and quality. Tech benefits foodservice establishments from beginning order to the finished dish and payment.
Innovative and automated equipment
Technology also affects the equipment foodservice operations have in their kitchens. Innovative equipment works hard to provide establishments with automated conveniences, such as a conveyor oven with auto-load and unloading capabilities. Automation decreases labor hours by increasing efficiency and the staff’s ability to multitask while food is cooking — all without compromising the cooking process. Smart, commercial equipment with preset, programmable recipes also helps operations put out perfectly prepared and consistent dishes every time (no matter who’s working in the kitchen). And quick heating and cooling technologies are instrumental in getting quality food to customers in less time. A speedy service can increase table turnover rates and up your bottom line. In addition, newer, advanced tech equipment typically aims to increase energy efficiency, saving you money and negative effects on the environment.
Your unique operation
Technology will continue to infiltrate and improve the foodservice industry. Knowing what technology is available is important to helping you find what works best for your unique operation. Interested in more ways to improve your business? Head over to our blog and check out our post, “Five Tips To Create a Community-Driven Restaurant.”
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