While an increased presence of technology in restaurants is most certainly guaranteed in the coming years, what specifically can consumers expect from the food tech trend? Read our list of ten important restaurant technology trends that we think you should know about.
1. Mobile-Friendly Websites
This is less of a trend and more of a necessity. If you want to impress potential customers, you have to have a website that is optimized for mobile use. 62% of customers are less likely to go to a particular restaurant if they cannot easily read the menu on their mobile device which means you could be losing more than half of your potential customers if your website is not up to date! Expect to see an upheaval and transformation of restaurant websites on a large scale.
2. Digital Logbooks
Digital logbooks allow you to have better access to your data, save time, deal with issues in real-time, be consistent with data collection, and be more eco-friendly. Not only does these make back of the house duties significantly faster and easier, digital logbooks also increase front of the house efficiency because it allows for servers to allocate more of their time to focusing on customer service. Because fast service is becoming more valuable to millennial diners, digital logbooks are an essential investment. While the average diner may never actually encounter one of these, expect to be provided with quicker and more efficient service.
3. Mobile Ordering
While POS tablets at tables seemed to be all the rage, now the spotlight is on ordering from personal mobile devices. Customers at Panera now have two options for ordering: on a kiosk or at a table with a mobile app. The new automatic ordering systems have significantly reduced errors and have brought greater profitability to the chain. With the ability to save your preferences on the various devices, Panera's new ordering system has allowed for even greater efficiency and reduced wait times.
4. Voice Ordering Functions
Siri’s got a new friend: Dom. Dominos’ new app is a part of a several year campaign that began with upgrading the quality of their pizza, editing the menu, and now updating the technology. An app like this has yet to be seen by the retail industry and is largely an attempt to appeal to the ever important millennials, for whom convenience means everything. Instead of calling Dominos to place a pizza order, you now order through Dom, a voice recognizing smartphone app, who can also answer questions about the menu. We predict that soon enough, even typing on a touch screen will go extinct.
5. Social Media
Taking advantage of social media encourages your content to be spread organically thus saving you money. Creating a relevant social media platform will allow you to engage with returning customers as well as allowing yourself to be discovered by a larger variety of consumers. Tools like Facebook, however, can be used for much more than just connecting with guests. Now, some restaurants have begun implementing ordering systems through Facebook. Ordering through social media sites is an important trend to note because it brings ordering to where customers already are which is an idea that profits on the consumer's love for convenience. Expect restaurants to assume a larger presence on social media sites.
6. Online Reservations
Both OpenTable and LaFourchette, essentially its European equivalent, recently were acquired for $2.6 billion by Priceline and $140 million by TripAdvisor respectively even with both reporting net losses last year. Forbes predicts that Priceline will sell tables at sought after restaurants in packages along with travel and hotel reservations while TripAdvisor will look to translate the visitors to its website into profits through a table booking feature.
Subway, Papa Johns, and Prezzo recently began trials for geo-fencing apps that allow push notifications with various deals to be sent to enabled phones within a 200 meter radius of the restaurant. These updates are timed to reach consumers at meal-times. It seems to us that this is an effort to communicate with customers through a familiar mode. This along with deals (who doesn't love a great discount) is a great way to promote your restaurant and attract more customers.
8. Google Glass
An incident in Seattle in which a patron was kicked out of a restaurant for wearing Google Glass has caused a lot of people to start discussing what the increased availability for the novelty product will mean for restaurants. While the ability for patrons to wear Google Glass could increase accountability and force servers to perform at the best of their ability, it could also can considered an infringement of privacy and create an environment where servers are fearful. We're not sure how restaurants will deal with the product's growing popularity but businesses must decide how they will respond to this type of technology before it becomes too late.
Momentum Machines recently created a gourmet burger flipping robot that can produce exactly 360 burgers per hour. Amid recent tension from fast food workers protesting for an increase in their minimum wage to $15 per hour, a high efficient machine that produces burgers with better food safety and consistency might be looking pretty appealing to fast food chain CEOs. However, the impact that these machines could have on unemployment would be devastating. We don't know if this will be enough to keep employees around.
10. Mobile Apps
Mobile apps will soon take over the restaurant industry. Apps have the ability to do a range of things from allowing customers to order a meal before they even arrive at the restaurant to paying for their meal. With the generation of millennials assuming a dominant role as restaurant customers, mobile engagement is become increasingly popular and has started becoming widely used with young customers. Starbucks already does 14% of its sales through mobile payments. Expect for mobile devices to have an increasing role in the restaurant experience.
The tech revolution has and will continue to play a huge role in the restaurant industry. It's important to familiarize yourself with the aforementioned trends in order to position your business as best as you can.
Where do you see the future of restaurant technology heading? Let us know in the comments.