Technology impacts every industry on the planet, but how does technology affect restaurants? As the pace of innovation increases, customers expect more from the dining experience. They want to make reservations online, have a variety of payment options, and have access to free Wi-Fi throughout the restaurant. And that's just the tip of the iceberg. Technology is transforming how we order food, track restaurant inventories, comply with safety regulations, and much more.
As a restaurant owner or head chef, it can be hard to distinguish which tech innovations are worth the upfront investment, and which ones are passing fads. With so many game-changing products and services coming to market every month, there isn't enough time for the average restauranteur to vet each trend. Fortunately, we've done our research at Alto-Shaam, creating a whitepaper with 8 of the most important restaurant technology trends. Below, we've shared 2 key technologies from the whitepaper that will have a lasting impact on the foodservice industry.
Table Management Software
According to a 2015 OpenTable study, about 83% of diners want the option to put their name on a digital waitlist, instead of heading to the restaurant first. With today's table management software, restaurant managers can access information about current reservations, special requests (i.e. dietary restrictions, birthday celebrations), and the online waitlist.
This innovative technology is much more efficient than handling reservations over the phone, and patrons will only tolerate being put on hold for so long before dining somewhere else. If they decide to take their name off the waitlist or cancel the reservation, that time slot will instantly be freed up for the next party. Many table management platforms can also sync with adaptive scheduling software, so that front- and back-of-house can coordinate for an upcoming rush.
It's clear that digital innovation is transforming restaurants behind the scenes, but how does technology affect restaurants for everyday consumers? Recently, the National Restaurant Association surveyed restaurant owners and found that 37% believe the ordering experience is going to have the biggest shift. We're already seeing it at fast food chains, where customers have the option to order at a touchscreen kiosk without talking to anyone. This frees up front-of-house staff to focus on customer service and timely food running while making the traditional cashier role obsolete. Touchscreen kiosks can also be tailored to upsell combo meals and larger sizes to customers, thereby increasing revenue.
Currently, ordering kiosks are still a little too costly to implement for many small operations, but the trend is only going to grow. As installation costs decrease, more fast-casual and fast food restaurants will update their layouts with kiosks at center stage. Of course, kiosks won't make sense for fine dining and intimate restaurant concepts, but customers love the convenience when ordering food in a hurry.
Want to learn about the 6 other technology trends that are transforming restaurants in the 21st century? Click here to download our free whitepaper, "Technology's Impact on the Restaurant Industry."