We’ve seen a rapid rise in technological adoption across industries over the last decade. The first smartphones of the mid 2000’s have become more powerful than many computers. The high street has suffered and the likes of Amazon have become trillion-dollar companies. Consumers expect ease when it comes to purchasing and retailers are having to adapt to this changing landscape.
Coming into 2020 we’ve also had to contend with an uncertain global political landscape and the worst global pandemic of the century. Ultimately, these factors amongst others have contributed to a shift in strategy for many restaurants and more businesses than ever are looking to technology for answers.
In this article, we take a look at 6 restaurant technologies currently available that we expect to grow in popularity as norms and consumer demands change in response to these external pressures.
1. Ghost kitchens / cloud kitchens
A ghost kitchen is a professional cooking facility set up for the preparation of delivery-only meals. By taking their restaurants online people can massively reduce their overheads and capitalize on the online ordering trend. With an estimated 60% of people ordering takeout once a week, and many of those using their phones or even designated apps, there is huge scope for growth for this type of restaurant.
Ghost kitchens are known by a selection of other names, such as cloud kitchens, virtual kitchens, and dark kitchens. They can either be run in conjunction with an existing restaurant to capitalize on an already existing brand. Or they can exist entire;y independently. This latter option allows new kitchens and chefs to start serving their food, building their brand and making money without the often prohibitive cost of a front door.
Ghost kitchens are an innovative solution allowing entrepreneurs to grow their business from scratch. For traditional restaurants they highlight the absolute importance of not only having a great atmosphere, delectable food and wonderful service but also having a good online ordering option.
2. Self-service kiosks
Self-sevice kiosks have already been employed in several major restaurant chains such as McDonald’s. Kiosks reduce customer wait time and add clarity to menu options. It is also key to battling human error which still plays a role even in mostly automated systems. This is particularly important for QSR restaurants, enabling them to optimize their service and improve customer experience while simultaneously controlling overheads and improving stock control.
As an added bonus it’s been found that people often spend more money when using a self-service kiosk. Plus, it’s an answer to a common problem most restaurateurs face: a major staffing shortage in the industry that’s only predicted to get worse.
3. Online Ordering
Online ordering has steadily become more popular over recent years. In fact, it’s been found that 59% of restaurant orders from millennials are takeout or delivery. With our high pressured modern lives there often isn’t time to head out to our favourite restaurants. Instead, people like to enjoy great food from the comfort of their own home while watching the newest Netflix show.
Add to this the rise of ghost kitchens and the ease of ordering online which we have all become accustomed to and online ordering just makes sense.
Additionally, when done well a good online ordering system can help boost Average Order Value (AOV), improve brand perception and help build loyal repeat customers.
4. Table Ordering
We already use our phones for almost everything. So why not allow people to access menus, order, and even pay all from their phone, even when at the table? There are numerous benefits to this. It allows restaurants to improve customer experience by reducing wait times and removing human error.
Additionally, restaurants can reduce interaction between staff and customers which, in a post-COVID world, is vital for making customers feel safe. Ultimately, then table ordering can improve customer experience, increase AOV, and reduce unnecessary restaurant costs.
5. Robot chefs and servers
While we doubt a robot could ever replace a human chef, the concept of employing robotics in kitchens has been gaining traction. It’s certainly interesting to speculate what mundane tasks a robot could take on in a kitchen which would free up chefs and cooks to spend more time doing the more creative and complex tasks (the good stuff).
In Japan, for example, there are several examples of kitchens employing robot chefs. These are experiments to test the limits of automation. While we don’t know where this technology will go in the future it’s likely that increased use of automation will be employed throughout the hospitality industry. However, even if fully-automated restaurant kitchens do become possible, we think it’s more likely that robots will be there to assist rather than eliminate restaurant staff, allowing them to focus on providing incredible service.
6. Cloud-based POS systems
Cloud-based restaurant POS systems are becoming increasingly popular versus old school legacy systems. Not only are cloud-based systems easier to install (no hard wiring!), the hardware is less expensive, and software upgrades are free and can be done remotely, saving restaurateurs thousands of dollars in start-up and maintenance costs. In addition to the savings, cloud-based POS systems just work better. The technology is newer, reporting is more robust, and many are equipped with an online mode that keeps the system running even during an internet outage.
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