The restaurant business has seen a flurry of change in the last few years, from changes in customer dietary needs and tastes to a preference for convenience-first lifestyles and digital everything. These are just a few of the things that have driven the innovation in technology that we’re seeing in the industry today.
The question is, are we going through exciting or perilous times? In the restaurant biz, there’s always a fast-moving competitor waiting to steal your customers away. When the stakes are high, and changes are coming fast, staying on top of self-service technology is one way to not only keep up with, but outpace, your competition.
Restaurateurs who continually ask “What’s next?” will stay ahead of the curve. Here’s a quick look at some possible future service technology you should take note of.
Self-Service Technology Comes into Its Own
Self-service technology has been around for a while, but we think it will really take off in the next year or so. Whether tabletop self-service tablets or self-ordering kiosks, these devices will be used in restaurants and chains of all sizes, from single operator to big chains and franchises.
Giving diners the ability to order food and drinks then pay and tip is a major time saver that will also increase a restaurant’s profitability. Touch screen devices help servers streamline their service and concentrate on the customer’s needs beyond order taking and fetching the check. It also eliminates the need for hand-written notes. When orders are wirelessly transmitted to the kitchen, not only do the orders get to the kitchen faster, there are fewer mistakes, which also reduces delays. In fact, self-ordering technology saves time by up to 25%.
In addition, self-service technology improves a restaurant’s ability to upsell and cross-sell. Instead of a server asking “Do you want fries with that?” the software can be programmed to show fries alongside the customer’s order. It can also be programmed to offer additional items that customers are likely to choose, based on previous consumer behavior.
The added visuals make the upsell items more appealing, and basing suggestions on consumer behavior means the right items are being suggested at the right time. This entices customers to order more and increases sales for the restaurant.
Improved Delivery Service
With the rise of Uber Eats, Grubhub, DoorDash, and other delivery platforms, delivery services have taken off. And forward-looking restaurateurs have responded with improved delivery service of their own. And those who have food delivery are also investing in online ordering technology for these take-out orders. You can go online, order your food, and have it delivered all through the same software.
This technology allows both front-of-the-house staff and kitchen staff to efficiently receive and prepare takeout and delivery orders. Some even provide route optimization suggestions for delivery drivers. The software can integrate with restaurant POS and management systems and include a payment gateway to process credit card payments.
Facial Recognition to Order Food
The more we use technology in other areas of our life, the more we will find applications for it in all areas, including restaurants. We’re all used to video conferences or FaceTiming. Soon, we may be seeing facial recognition technology implemented in self-ordering technology. It’s early days for this technology, but the potential is definitely there. In the future, we may see self-ordering kiosks that give customers the option to have the technology remember their order and tie it to their image.
Voice-Enabled Self-Ordering Technology
As orders are increasingly placed not at the counter or with a service but through mobile apps, online, third-party delivery services, and self-ordering kiosks, voice ordering is the next step. In fact, in April, Walmart partnered with Google to bring voice ordering to its customers. And Alexa or Google Home can not only play your favorite song, but also order your favorite food from a restaurant near you.
It’s only a matter of time before a self-ordering technology provider builds upon the Amazon or Google application programming interfaces (APIs) to implement voice ordering in digital kiosks. While we haven’t seen any of this type of implementation yet, it is certainly one to be on the lookout for. The most important thing, of course, is how this self-ordering technology is accepted by your customers.
Staying competitive in the restaurant business involves delivering an awesome experience, serving great food, and staying profitable. Keeping up with self-ordering technology innovations can help keep you in the game.