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How technologies shape the restaurant industry for the better

(Image credit: Image source: Shutterstock/everything possible)

The power for AI, social media, and digital tools are rapidly disrupting businesses in all fields. The restaurant industry wouldn’t seem in need of high tech instruments - there are people cooking food on one side and people eating it on the other, simple as that.

However, if you’re not embracing new innovations within your restaurant, you might have already fallen behind. For example, according to the National Restaurant Association study, 83 per cent of restaurant owners have already installed POS (Point of Sale) systems to keep track of their businesses, and up to 40 per cent of restaurants now offer online ordering. So, as you can see, the restaurant industry is hungry for tech. Let’s take a look at a few tech trends that are currently shaping the industry.

1. Self-service

Giving restaurant guests the option to order food without placing an order with a server turns out to be a good move for both the guests as well as the business owner. As a visitor, wouldn’t you enjoy completing your order independent of the waiter coming over to ask “Are you ready to order?” or offering condiments you don’t really need? As a business owner, don’t you struggle hiring restaurant staff or fixing the crises created all because a customer didn’t like the waiter?

Self-service is a win-win situation for the restaurants. It’s no secret millennials are incredibly tech-savvy and will benefit from an online ordering possibility (it’s been a huge hit with McDonald’s, among others). As for the business side of things, let’s go over just a few ways self-service systems can help businesses:

  • Beating the competition. The restaurant market is oversaturated these days, which is why you need to be different and offer exciting innovations to your guests. Self-serving systems can help you stand out among the competitors who have yet to implement the technology.
  • Eliminating lines. Self-ordering will be a good thing for customers seeing as it will drastically reduce the waiting time and, in some cases, eliminate lines completely.
  • Collecting marketing data. Ordering systems can be a source of valuable information about the customer habits of a visitor as well as their gastronomic preferences. Self-service tools will collect the data seamlessly - you won’t have to make guests fill out long surveys.

2. Mobile payments

Mobile payment platforms have been developing at a moderate pace lately since not everybody is convinced this technology has huge significance. However, there are around 2.6 billion smartphones, Statista says.

Such a number only proves how technology-dependent we are these days. With this in mind, there is still much room for this form of payment to grow and catch on.

Paying with a smartphone instead of cash or a credit card is very convenient since it’s the thing everyone keeps at arm’s reach these days.  As a restaurant owner, you might be interested in the perks mobile payments provide you. There are many of these, including:

  • Reducing payment fees. It’s been noted that terminal card swiping fees are higher than those from a mobile payment. By adopting a mobile payment tool, you won’t be losing in profits for your customers’ convenience.
  • Quicker customer turnover. A smoother payment system takes less time and drastically reduces other customers’ waiting time. All of that means shorter lines and more satisfied customers.
  • No risk of missing out. Statistically, the demand for mobile payments is somewhere around 61 per cent, which is a few times more than it was this time around two years ago. Soon, customers will likely begin to expect this option and be frustrated when it is not available.

3. POS-systems

Another trend that’s invaded the restaurant industry and is currently riding a wave is the use of POS-systems. In a nutshell - POS is a widely used system in retail that enables sales and cash tracking, inventory follow up, and more.

POS-systems have a ton of long-term benefits for restaurants. Let’s go over the most important ones.

Keeping your money in order

  • Enables payment security. Seeing that one of the main features of POS-systems is processing a credit card, the tool tracks every cent earned and spent. Henceforth, the payment procedure is transparent and secure.
  • Cutting down on employee theft. By tracking the sales process as well as the inventory, you can control the behaviour of your employees and ensure no one is robbing you of your money.

Daily operations

  • Simplifies the contact between the kitchen and the waiters. Thanks to POS- systems, these two staff groups can finally exchange information to be able to tell guests what stage of preparation their order is at.
  • Eases restaurant management. There are POS-systems that track the efficiency of every employee - this way the manager can finally know whose performance needs to be improved and who deserves to be rewarded for good work.
  • Handling taxes. Thanks to storing all of your restaurant data, a POS-system comes in handy when you need to calculate your tax returns. POS-systems can organise a profit and loss statement for each quarter as well.

4. Loyalty through face recognition

There are trends in the industry that feel like the fruit of a sci-fi writer’s fantasy. However, advanced tech tools are already used to make restaurants work better. For instance, face recognition is a good way to increase customer loyalty.

This kind of recognition technology can help you remember a visitor’s face and attach their order profile to it. This way, you will be able to “remember” what a particular customer likes. You can also keep a track of their orders and can give a regular guest a discount for their loyalty.

5. Full automation

Last but definitely not least, there have already been a few completely automated restaurants. The hospitality industry is among the front-runners when it comes to using robots and AI.

The benefits of implementing full automation are vast - you’ll get a ton of interest from guests and the press, shorten the number of staff, and free up many logistical responsibilities you would normally have to deal with when you have a full staff. Also, the management procedure will become exponentially easier.

If you’re curious, automated restaurants are a reality already. Take Spyce, an automated restaurant created by MIT students, as an example. Ordering, cleaning, and cooking - everything is automated. Such a system makes food ordering and preparation extremely quick - the entire procedure takes up to 3 minutes. That’s a new level of fast food!

Final thoughts

Just like any other industry, restaurant businesses are disrupted by technology. Using mobile payment tools, self-service machines, and POS-systems are some ways to make restaurant management easier, faster, and more efficient.  It’s up to us to figure out what to do at this transitional stage - skip the trends or embrace them and join the frontrunners in business.

Rodion Yeroshek, Co-Founder & CEO, Poster POS
Image source: Shutterstock/everything possible

Rodion Yeroshek, Co-Founder & CEO of Poster POS, a cloud Point of Sale and management console for restaurants and shops.