Emerging Technology Trends for Restaurants in 2020
Technology plays an important part in how we stay connected today. With the COVID-19 crisis in full bloom, technology is what keeps us connected to our friends, family, and the outside world in a time where self-isolation is unavoidable.
Over the years, technology has permeated every industry. Business, education, healthcare—even the food industry has had its share of technological innovation.
In a year like 2020, when a viral pandemic has taken the world by storm, we’ve seen technology rise to the forefront once more, enabling a remote workforce, powering online lectures, and supporting healthcare workers at the frontline. But what about restaurants?
The future of the food industry is digital. And if you’re a restaurant owner, staying in the loop will boost your establishment’s efficiency while earning your customers’ loyalty.
Here are a few trends that every tech-savvy restaurateur should keep their eye on.
1. Self-Ordering Kiosks
For restaurants that have them, self-ordering kiosks are a secret weapon. Especially today, when customers are likely to prefer less contact with waitstaff (and vice versa), kiosks are a game-changer. Kiosks enable restaurants to deliver food to customers’ tables as fast as possible by reducing the length of time customers spend waiting for their order to be taken.
Plus, when it’s time for the cheque, guests have already paid. Maximizing the number of customers you sit in a night will become essential when tables are spread 2 metres apart to accommodate social distancing.
Kiosks have excellent memory. They allow you to learn what menu items your customers are ordering and what they’re scrolling past, telling you which items to promote.
2. Tabletop Ordering Systems
Paper menus are more difficult to disinfect than screens. Tabletop ordering systems with antimicrobial screens cut down on server-to-customer contact in addition to wait times. What’s more, servers no longer need to memorize the specials—guests have access to your complete menu and any information worth adding, such as feedback or ratings on popular items.
Tabletop ordering systems work seamlessly with a restaurant’s kitchen, with orders reaching staff in a matter of seconds. Translating customers’ orders into food on their table takes less time with tabletop ordering systems, and once plates have been cleaned, payment options are available at customers’ fingertips.
A number of ordering systems have even added features to entertain customers while their order is prepared, easing the tension of first dates.
3. Voice Recognition Technology
All customers have to do is ask. Voice-activated ordering has been used in well-established fast-food chains like KFC and Pizza Hut to expedite the process of taking an order. In a time where people are hesitant to leave their homes, any technological innovation that reduces social contact during the dine-in experience is a friend to the food industry.
But the potential applications for voice recognition technology within a dining environment stretch far beyond contactless ordering. Think, for instance, of the time-consuming process of taking inventory with pen and paper. An inventory management system with built-in voice recognition technology will be able to record every item a manager says aloud while walking through his storage areas.
4. Artificial Intelligence
Why did McDonald’s recently acquire Dynamic Yield, an AI-based tech company? Dynamic Yield specializes in personalizing customer experiences. With its help, McDonald’s will be able to adjust its menu and any ongoing promotional strategies based on a constellation of factors, including popular items, traffic, and even the day’s weather forecast.
AI has limitless potential, especially when used in combination with other forms of cutting-edge technology. Google Duplex, for instance, integrates AI with voice-recognition technology to achieve the end result of AI-powered realistic human speech, which can be used to make phone calls and take reservations.
5. Mobile Apps
Online food delivery has generated upwards of $3.2 billion in Canada since the beginning of 2020. The COVID-19 crisis has seen a surge in takeout orders through third-party delivery apps like Uber Eats and DoorDash. But apps like these have been known to hurt rather than help local restaurants, namely through double-digit commission fees that are next to impossible to keep up with during times of financial hardship.
To meet the recent spike in demand for delivery, restaurants have searched far and wide for alternative solutions. As 2020 progresses, we’ll likely see a rise in mobile apps developed for individual restaurants. Mobile apps enhance customer experience while boosting engagement through targeted discounts and promotions.
One trend to be on the lookout for over the remainder of the year is the rise of designated mobile apps for alcoholic beverages. As people hunkered down for weeks on end during the peak of the COVID-19 crisis, a dash to the nearest liquor store wasn’t worth the risk. Instead, alcohol delivery apps offered a convenient and risk-free solution—one that’s likely to stick around.
6. Scheduling Software
The pandemic has opened our eyes to how vital it is to accommodate staff when circumstances outside of their control are thrust upon them, such as a family member who has fallen ill and requires care. Intuitive scheduling software allows restaurant managers to keep track of staff, monitor foot traffic, and avoid under- or over-booking.
Scheduling staff is no easy feat. As restaurants emerge from lockdown after months with no stable income, striking the perfect balance between customers and staff is vital to saving labour costs. That’s where scheduling software comes into play, freeing up time for managers to spend tracking their restaurant’s performance, or searching for ways to improve customer experience.
7. Digital Reservation Manager
A digital reservation manager has the power not only to book reservations on behalf of your customers, but to offer the optimal seating arrangements based on time of day and group size. Reservation software can get back to your customers immediately with accurate wait times. Once their table is free, the software sends a text to your customer to let them know, eliminating the hassle of guesswork.
Understanding How the Restaurant Industry Fits Into This New World
The world as we know it is changing. While restaurants won’t disappear, the way customers interact with them will.
Are you interested in learning more about the future of the restaurant industry post-COVID-19? Get in touch with the CHI Real Estate team of restaurant experts by calling 647-347-9723.