A Restaurant Worker Holds A Bag Of To Go Food And Coffee

In today’s modern world there are few remaining industries that have not yet been impacted by technology. The restaurant industry in particular has been gradually adopting new tech tools and processes to offer the level of service today’s customers expect. In response, data revealed 58 percent of consumers would visit a restaurant more often if experience-enhancing technologies were available. Here we’re looking at the top technology trends you can expect to see emerging in restaurants this year.

This past year has been pivotal in the transformation of online ordering. It started out as a rare but, convenient feature to an absolute must-have of restaurants today. More and more restaurants are making themselves available to customers who choose not to travel for their food. Mobile ordering in particular has made drastic strides in popularity, with mobile-based businesses enabling consumers to order full meals right form their smartphone. Branded apps which allow customers to pre-order items, pay and participate in loyalty programs are also becoming increasingly mainstream for more food and beverage organizations. Due to a dramatically more efficient checkout and ordering process, consumers are highly responsive to these features. This behavior has contributed to a 75 percent growth in mobile payments since 2017. Moving forward we can certainly expect the frequency of online orders to increase and more restaurants to continue building out “on-the-go” order features.

Your face may be able to do a lot more than unlock your phone since the launch of facial recognition payment systems. This technology, specifically designed for convenience, allows for a more efficient check out processes and from what creators claim, greater security. This all comes without the need for excessive modifications to merchant’s existing systems. Customers need only to look at the screen of the POS attachment to complete a payment. This technology is leading to more streamlined ordering and wait time, ultimately improving customer service. As the technology advances, we can expect to see more widespread use of facial recognition payment systems in the near future. 

Augmented reality is emerging in a multitude of business markets including the restaurant industry. As customer experience becomes increasingly more important, restaurants are adopting technology tools to make their offerings stand out from the crowd and create the “wow” experiences their customers desire.  At present, a common use of AR technology is providing customers with live previews of their menu items. Through the use of 3D images of the meal options, a more interactive and visual experience is created for diners. With the convenience of smartphone capabilities, AR no longer has to be cumbersome or expensive. Many restaurants offering AR technology for menu visualization are doing so via Snapchat. While 38 percent of dining experiences now involve a smartphone, this is simply easing the integration of AR technology into diners’ experiences.

Predictive analytics have been making waves in consumer marketing over the past few years. Today, predictive technology can be found more widespread in the restaurant industry as another way to streamline the ordering process. By analyzing a restaurant’s sales history and ordering patterns, merchants can predetermine what items will be needed the following week. This forecasting not only improves customer service but green initiatives as well. Orders are submitted automatically which in-turn reduces food waste, lowers costs, saves time and alleviates the stress of managing food orders. Ongoing analytics also improve managerial duties by providing a list of recommendations to ensure proper handling of perishable items and a daily inventory of the costliest items.

Smart technology is already a common trend in modern homes and now is making its way into industrial kitchens. As restaurants require large amounts of food storage and preparation, IoT connected coolers, blast chillers and ovens offer more accurate temperature tracking and automated timers. Looking further into the future, some fast casual restaurants are even exploring the capabilities of self-cooking kitchens. Rather than an employee managing a grill, a self-cooking center displays a photo of the product being cooked and sets a timer. Leaving employees to work on more customer-facing tasks. 

Through not necessarily a new technology, self-ordering kiosks are continuing to advance in an effort to improve restaurant workflows and customer experiences. Restaurateurs are attracted to this technology for the way they are capable of excelling at cashier duties. Consistently suggesting upsells or add-ons, filtering menu items for guest’s dietary restrictions and allergies, and presenting customers with loyalty rewards they may be eligible for, all without the risk of forgetting or making a mistake. Additionally, because customers are also paying through these kiosks, they are comforted by the idea that they stay in control of their payment method and order accuracy the whole time. 

Training new employees is a time consuming, yet highly important responsibility for management teams. To ease the workload, virtual reality (VR) provides an equally effective onboarding experience. Suitable for getting new employees acclimated without the need for a hiring team to spend time training individuals. Using a VR headset, new hires can experience virtual tours of the facility, engage in life-like scenarios and test their responses and reactions before actually applying them to customers. This greatly relieved the pressure of first time restaurant workers and leads to better customer service from more confident, well trained employees.

Technology is impacting more areas of our lives with each passing year. To remain competitive, businesses must align with the current trends and innovations modern customers expect. As 2019 continues on, we’re sure to see these trends among others expand into more restaurants near you.

Maddie Davis is co-founder of Enlightened Digital and tech-obsessed female from NYC. She lives by building and redesigning websites, running marathons and reading anything and everything on the NYT Best Sellers list. 

Expert Takes, Slideshow, Technology