Restaurants are constantly evolving to meet the needs of their clientele. This extremely competitive industry must continuously reinvent itself as consumers prioritize where they spend their money, and why. It’s no longer about just providing a great meal and atmosphere. Instead, owners must look to the bigger picture, and devise ways to gain that ever-elusive competitive advantage which will set them apart as a contender instead of a pretender in the eyes of prospective patrons.
Here are three restaurant technology trends to take seriously in 2019:
Technology has truly changed the game in the Restaurant space. Companies which used to be sit-in only establishments have been expanding their offerings to meet the needs of a growing variety of buyers. One of these expansions pertains to the cooperation with third party delivery and takeout services. Today’s consumers are not only picky with what they’re putting into their bodies, but also about having the additional option to have their meals on the go. Long delivery times stemming from slammed in-house drivers won’t cut it anymore.
For restaurants, this means exploring the different ordering and delivery tech solutions on the market, so the customer has more avenues to purchase their food. While there are some that still enjoy the novelty of going into a restaurant, others are too busy and would rather use the time waiting for their food to get something else done. Consumers are happy to pay more because of the added convenience in using a single app to order, track, and enjoy meals from a multitude of restaurant locations, as opposed to going into the physical location themselves.
As we’re seeing customers shift towards ordering their food online or via an app instead of walking into a physical location, we’re seeing a direct correlation to a drop-off in foot traffic. With that said, restaurants have found innovative ways to streamline the in-house checkout process and enhance the customer experience through the implementation of self-serve kiosks. Companies like McDonald’s and Taco Bell have taken things even further with a hybrid approach to technology – giving patrons the opportunity to order via a touch screen menu, while still having staff available to help answer questions and assist with the ordering process. Though kiosks provide added ease of use, customers still need help transitioning through the growing phase of getting comfortable using the new technology.
Methods like this, that focus on the overall user experience, need to be a priority moving forward. Much like retail’s struggle vs. eCommerce, restaurants must also find new ways to compete with the ever-changing landscape, and the biggest market differentiator thus far has been to make things as effortless as possible for patrons to order, pay for, and eat their food in a brick and mortar setting.
As diners have consistently associated eating out with opportunities for social media engagement, whether that be on Yelp, Instagram, or other platforms, restaurants have focused more on providing a unique experience for their patrons. David Portalatin, Vice President and food industry analyst at the NPD Group, was quoted by Restaurant Dive as saying “Differentiating on experience can be a lot of different things. In some respects, it’s that Instagrammable or Snapchatable moment … but in some cases it can just be simply better service, better quality of execution in the restaurant.” Owners are increasingly investing in new service models that incorporate more front of house design, technological innovation, and anything else that can add to that “wow” factor for their visitors.
Combining these market differentiators with features like in-store pickup, order online, and delivery only adds to the options potential patrons have for taking their business to your restaurant. As stated earlier, dine-in experience is more than just one innovation. It’s about making things easy for the client, while providing as much value as possible. For example, UberEats now offers a feature so customers no longer have to wait for seats to open up, their table to be cleaned off, and their food to be prepared. This new “Uber Eats Dine-In” option, saves diners time and fees they would have spent on the delivery upcharge, while helping restaurants fill empty tables and bring more foot traffic into the physical location. We’re witnessing venues embrace the mobile model and cater to what their customers hold important – a positive interaction that makes them want to come back for more.
Staying on top of your IT infrastructure means you avoid unplanned issues as the rest of the world continues to innovate. Our team specializes in putting together compelling IT Infrastructures, which improve your restaurant’s bottom line. If your business is interested in taking its technology initiatives to the next level, we encourage you to schedule a meeting with our team using the Calendly plug-in on the upper right corner of this page. We’ll reach out to discuss your unique business goals so that we can begin crafting a solution that best fits your needs. If you’d like to read more of our thoughts on trends for your industry, check out our blog here.