The future of the restaurant industry rests in its ability to integrate technology with service. Don’t believe me? PitchBook recently published a study that found venture capitalist firms are more interested in the food industry than ever before because of improvements in online ordering systems and nation-wide delivery services. To that end, food technology companies amassed a staggering $1.5 billion in investments in 2017, according to Forbes.
But, investors are not simply throwing money at any food tech that promises a return. The technologies seeing the most investment are those that have the potential to revolutionize the way restaurants operate at a ground level. Here are five technologies that are reshaping the restaurant industry right now.
- Delivery services
Uber Eats. Postmates. GrubHub. Slice. All of these platforms share one thing in common: they took modern consumer preferences and integrated them within their business model. Restaurants generally offer items catered toward their market, but the aforementioned delivery platforms expanded those markets exponentially. This allows restaurants to offer their products to a wider audience than ever before and has placed a new onus on maximizing to-go sales. Restaurant owners should prudently follow developing trends within this space in order to grow their business in a way that is not harmful to their bottom line.
- Artificial Intelligence
AI has changed the way restaurants acquire and retain new customers. For example, consumers can now use chatbots—an integrated technology that works with Facebook, Slack, and Telegram, to name a few—to tell restaurants about their dietary restrictions through their online ordering platform. Online ordering platforms can then be tailored to fit the specific needs of a consumer without necessitating a broad change in a menu overall. This trend is sure to continue to grow roots within the industry as consumers continually demand experiences that are catered to their specific needs and desires.
- Plant-based Technology
As vegetarianism and veganism become more mainstream, restaurants will need to adapt and offer menu items that cater toward a wide variety of palates. Recent research from Food Revolution Network, an organization that promotes the growth of sustainable food networks, there has been a nearly 600 percent increase of consumers in the US identifying as vegan in the past three years. Most of this growth is due to ongoing concern about the environmental impacts of industrial farming and the ethical debate over eating animals. This has led to the development of 100% meat-less proteins that look, taste, and in some cases bleed like meat. Restaurateurs should acknowledge this trend, whether they agree with it or not, and begin to offer more meat-less menu items.
- Table Kiosks
Visit any TGI Friday’s or Applebee’s and you will most likely find a table-side kiosk awaiting you. The point of the technology is to ensure customers don’t have to wait in line to be served. If you’re drink is empty, simply tap a button on the kiosk and the kitchen or service staff will be notified. Payments can also be made at these kiosks, which will increase table turnover, and thereby increase the number of customers a restaurant can serve.
However, this technology comes with some pricey hardware and initiation costs. But, it has the potential to pay for itself by increasing turnover rates.
- Location technologies
It seems like every technological advance comes with a new way to watch your customer’s every step. WiFi can help you track foot traffic. Apps can help you see what deals or coupons your customers are most attracted to. Both technologies offer restaurant marketers a legion of information that can be used to attract new customers. I think this is where the true value of location technology rests. The more your marketing department knows about your customers, the better they can sell your business. This has an unlimited supply of benefits for businesses of every size. Whether you’re just starting out, or are a seasoned veteran of the industry, investing in location technologies can propel your business toward unimaginable heights simply by compiling data.