Curbside pick-up and delivery. QR code ordering. Robots in the kitchen! The restaurant industry has been going through some serious changes in the past few years. As consumer change their habits, technology is enabling businesses to keep up with new trends. At the same time, it's accelerating change further.
Here are four ways technology is shaping the present and future of the restaurant industry.
1. Expanding the restaurant beyond four walls
In the US alone, three out of five consumers order delivery or takeout at least once a week, according to the National Restaurant Association. Two out of five consumers say they’d buy meal kits to prepare at home if their favorite restaurant offered them. As consumers look for experiences that blend the excitement of eating out with the convenience of staying in, technology helps restaurants meet new demands, moving beyond the traditional four walls into their customers' homes.
With guests of all ages interested in getting their favorite food whichever way they prefer, restaurants need technology that helps deliver a seamless consumer experience no matter if guests want to eat in, order online and pick up in restaurant or at the curbside, or get the food delivered. The ideal software solution will unify customer data from all interactions into a single view of the guest, allowing restaurants to offer loyalty programs and personalize interactions both in person and digitally.
2. Evolving the eat-in experience
In the past few years the in-restaurant experience has centered on creating unique, unforgettable moments. Think in-store designs and layouts that make restaurants spaces more social-media worthy, plates that look like artworks, or immersive experiences that take guests into the very essence of a brand.
Today, a great dining experience must still have all those characteristics, but it also increasingly involves technology.
Self-ordering kiosks, QR menus and delivery apps are increasingly common in restaurants - but they are often seen as synonymous to quick service or fast casual joints. This will change soon. Continued shortage of personnel, combined with customer demand for more automations, are transforming all sectors of the industry. According to the Michelin guide, digital tools and technology are about to disrupt the front of house of fine dining restaurants, too.
3. Empowering employees
Employee turnover rates are notoriously high in the restaurant industry, with some estimates setting the number at 75%. Many factors play a role, including low wages, a stressful environment, and long working hours. While more structural changes may be needed, technology can help make your workplace more enticing to employees. When staff members fell empowered and have the means to do their job effectively, they will be less likely to look for another place. For example, a mobile Point of Sale device with real-time view on menus, availability, and status of dishes in the kitchen can help your servers answer difficult customer questions such as “Is the catch of the day still available?” or “Is the chicken Kiev gluten-free?” - or, "how long until my order is ready?". When you have all the information you need just a tap away, and you don't need to run back and forth to get the answers you need, customer service becomes much less stressful. In the kitchen, technology like kitchen display systems (KDS) can organize and simplify workflows, eliminating confusion and helping your staff prepare dishes in the right order, at each guest’s specifications.
With more and more young, tech-savvy workers joining the industry, being known as a forward-thinking employer that empowers staff members with modern technology can be a major differentiator in the search for talent.
4. Enhancing the business with data and intelligence
By having a clear view of your data, and using cloud-based business intelligence and analytics services, restaurants can make smarter business decisions.
For example, you can use consumption data in the kitchen to improve efficiency and prevent issues and waste. Say you have a burger chain, and want to optimize reordering of ingredients. With a unified platform like LS Central, you can save recipes which are connected to inventory. Then, every time you produce a cheeseburger you know how much lettuce, cheese, and sauce to use - and the system adjusts inventory accordingly. This way you can easily track quantity of ingredients on hand as well as costs. The system also helps you purchase what you need to produce your menu items for a specific period, reducing both waste and the risk of understocking.
Having a clear overview of your data can also help you improve your service, and align it with your guests’ preferences. When you know which lunch offer is most popular on different days at each location, what type of promotions guests are more likely to take advantage of, and which dishes deliver the best returns considering how long they take to prepare, then you can adjust your offering so it delivers the best returns.
Eager to know how innovative technology can help you reach your business goals? Contact us.