The COVID-19 pandemic disrupted many industries that would have otherwise been slow to adapt, including the restaurant industry which has traditionally been very slow to adapt.
It has resulted in restaurants to look beyond their traditional way of providing their goods and services, some of which include more off premise or al-fresco dining, plexi-glass or table divers, masks, hand sanitizing and less dine-in guests.
More restaurants have recognized that in order to survive, they will have to adapt and improve their technology and innovate the way they provide services to satisfy a world that has gone into a connected but contactless era.
Below are some restaurant technology trends.
Online Ordering Systems
More restaurants are allowing customers to order their food online. A once frowned upon method of dining by high-end restaurants who preferred to serve food immediately it is made. These restaurants have been forced to find better packaging options that keep the food hot and appealing when it is delivered.
Online ordering systems allow customers to place their orders ahead of time and simply come in and pick them up. This means they do not have to stand in line and is the best solution for social distancing.
Many high-end restaurants are integrating online ordering systems into their service.
Delivery has been ubiquitous with fast-food restaurants who have enjoyed a larger marketshare. High-end restaurants have been very slow to adapt to delivery services mostly to distinguish their food with a focus on food as an experience.
But COVID-19 has forced them to adapt or go under. The lack of dine-in customers had them choose to either raise their prices or integrate a delivery service option into their service to keep their customers and attract more.
Restaurants that have adapted and added delivery apps to their service have been able to expand their market and also control their deliveries to uphold their service.
More restaurants are using contactless portable and static smartcard readers for payment.
These contactless readers allow customers to simply scan their smartphone or card above the touchless device for payment. This trend has accelerated due to the pandemic and is a preferred form of payment for over 34% of customers who view it as hygienic, safe, quick, instant and convenient.
Digital Kitchen Boards
More restaurants are digitizing their kitchens too. They are doing away with shared pens and paper and adopting digital menu boards for kitchen staff.
This has seen restaurants streamline their back-end operations and efficiently keep everyone up to speed.
These are also linked to the restaurant’s point of sale terminal, screen display orders which are now able to prioritize orders and clearly flag any special dietary requests.
Connecting the front and backend has allowed restaurant operations to seamlessly remain on track with order tracking, inventory tracking and improved communication among staff.
Self Ordering Kiosks
Restaurants like McDonalds and Panera were early adopters of self-ordering kiosks which allowed customers to skip the long queues and accurately place their order at a kiosk. This reduced their wait times and boosted their check sizes allowing customers more control to customize and add to their order due to not feeling rushed.
An example of this effect is the Coca-Cola freestyle dispenser which offers customers endless drink combinations at the touch of a button during their visit. Some restaurants like Chili’s Grill & Bar have adopted this option at tables where customers can simply order a refill, desserts and pay their bills without the hassle of flagging anyone down.
More than 65% of customers have expressed a preference for self-service kiosks and would visit a restaurant more if it had them.