Top Trends in Restaurant Technology You Need to Know
Over the past decade, improving technology has affected just about every aspect of consumer life, including the restaurant business. Whether it be an app, product or service, restaurant owners are finding that incorporating technology into their business opens up a whole new experience for their customers, increases sales, and oftentimes makes operations more efficient.
So what are the latest trends in restaurant tech? Keep reading to find out.
More and more restaurants are moving away from traditional paper menus in favor of digital menus displayed on tablets. Digital menus allow customers to interact with the menu in new ways — some can be programmed to provide wine pairings for the selected entree, as well as give more detailed information about the dish and its nutritional value. Going digital can also save restaurants money as new menu items and specials can be easily added without having to pay to reprint paper menus that might only be good for a few months.
Order + Pay at the Table
Several major chains have begun to experiment with installing tablets at each table which allow customers to place orders directly from their table. These order-taking-tablets allow customers to customize their dishes much more easily, reducing the chance of a server placing a wrong order or missing a substitution. The food is still brought out by a server, who can also assist customers with the technology if needed. These tablets can also help make sure customers aren’t waiting an inordinate amount of time to place their orders once they’ve been seated.
This technology is not only giving the customer a more efficient and accurate ordering experience, it is also greatly reducing costs for the restaurant owner as less wait staff is needed during peak hours and kitchens are able to get orders instantaneously.
Some tablets even allow customers to pay at the table when they’ve finished their meal, again saving on the time it takes for the waiter to go back and forth from the table to take care of the bill.
For centuries, the restaurant business had a single service model: the customer placed an order with a waiter who delivered that order to the kitchen, then served the prepared food. But a number of new technologies are now making it possible to cut back on some of the wait staff. Kiosks are being put in place that allow customers to not only order their own food, but serve it, too.
This type of self-service can be seen in many frozen yogurt shops, where kiosks allow customers to select their food, choose the size they want, prepare the dessert and then pay directly at the kiosk. Some restaurants are incorporating these type of self-service models with everything from alcoholic beverages to the meal itself. A California restaurant is experimenting with using virtual cashiers and not employing a wait staff, having customers order from tablets and pick up meals from a window. Meanwhile, a Canadian company creates self-serving beer taps that can be placed at individual tables or designated places in the restaurant, having customers re-fill their own glasses rather than have a waitress deliver them from the bar.
Practically every customer has a smartphone these days, so why not use that technology to get orders out faster and reduce mistakes? Specialized applications allow customers to place orders for food before they even leave their house. Fast food restaurants have started to use this technology to prepare orders for customers so that all they have to do is come by the restaurant and pick up their food. Payment information is also handled via the app. Similar technology is being used by cruise lines, sports stadiums, and other large capacity venues to gain accurate estimates of their customer needs and have enough product available. These applications also significantly reduce wait times, since multiple orders can be distributed at the same time.
There are pros and cons to incorporating more technology into your restaurant. While it can create a more efficient workflow for you and your staff, it can also limit the customer service aspect that so many customers value. Your best bet is to find a balance between technology and personal interactions between you customers and staff. If you’re not sure how to find that balance, contact econstruct today. We can help you design a restaurant that will wow guests while meeting all of your needs.