The restaurant tech landscape is evolving rapidly. Here are some of the latest trends
Technology in the restaurant industry is rapidly becoming the new normal. For example, more than 81 percent of restaurants use a point-of-service (POS) or electronic register system, according to a recent study by the National Restaurant Association. More than half of those systems feature card processing, labor management, inventory management and accounting tools.
You could be missing out on many benefits if tech tools aren't yet on your operation's menu. Restaurant operators say using technology improves productivity, increases sales and provides a competitive edge. Back-office inventory software alone can reduce costs and deliver more accurate menu pricing and ordering efficiency that isn't possible with manual systems.
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For consumers, delicious food and high-quality service still define a good restaurant experience. Like operators, consumers have embraced restaurant technology, but there's a caveat: Don't let it interfere with personal service.
Almost 80 percent of guests say restaurant tech improves their guest experience, especially when it makes service faster, according to a recent study focusing on diners and technology conducted by restaurant technology company Toast.
“Consumers overwhelmingly agree that technology is improving the way they engage with restaurants and enhances their overall dining experience,” said Chris Comparato, CEO of Toast of the study's findings.
Here are five top restaurant technology trends that demand attention from restaurateurs of all stripes in the coming year, gleaned from the latest industry research.
1. Technology that reduces food waste and increases revenue. With predictive order management software, restaurants can predict demand, reduce waste and improve profits. Automating the task is more efficient and eliminates spreadsheets and inaccuracies that are the hallmark of manual processes. Developer Eruza offers a cloud-based system that promises to help quick-serve restaurant and cafe operators order the right amount of product at the right time.
2. Technology that simplifies complex loyalty programs. When customers are close to receiving a loyalty reward, they spend more. The latest technology integrates with POS systems and customer smartphones to enable customers who've signed up to check loyalty reward account status anytime, anywhere. A great example is Toast's POS Loyalty Management application.
3. Technology that improves your guest data. When staff can quickly identify regulars and their unique preferences, they can focus on keeping those customers satisfied and coming back for more. Quick access to accurate historical guest data makes it easier to tailor service to known preferences. Delight your regulars by offering such perks as their preferred seating and proactively offering their most frequently purchased beverage or favorite treat. GuestBridge offers this technology for fine dining.
4. Technology that keeps customers updated on meal delivery progress. Especially on busy nights, customers want to be able to make an order quickly and easily – and they want to know how long it will take for the food they ordered to be delivered. Improve engagement and reduce frustration with technology that puts customers in charge. They can follow the progress of their order in real time, from meal preparation to expected arrival time at tableside or delivery site. One robust online ordering and tracking system for small restaurant operators is Trackin.
5. Technology that allows guests to split and pay bills at the table. Giving guests the ability to view, split and pay their bills at the table using their smartphones saves them time and improves table turns and productivity. Additional features can be on-the-spot satisfaction surveys, text messaging and more. Mobile platform app developer Split offers a great example.
Lastly, keep in mind that food and quality service are the top reasons guests choose restaurants. Don't let technology get in the way. Ideally, restaurant technology should work in the background and be integrated with ways that enhance guest experiences.