Artificial Intelligence (AI) has already begun to reshape the way restaurants operate, even though the technology is in an infantile stage. According to the McKinsey Global Institute, nearly 70 percent of businesses will incorporate some form of AI into their businesses by 2030. This could range from language features to process optimization.
Large chains like Dominos, McDonalds, and Pizza Hut have used the technology to optimize their menus. Other services such as Uber Eats use AI to generate their ranking algorithms.
But, this technology has a lot to offers restaurants of all sizes, not just the behemoths. Below are some of the ways AI will help all restaurants increase their sales and optimize their performance in the future.
For procurement managers, finding the right time to purchase a certain product and how much of it is often a very delicate balancing act. Typically, these managers rely on sales data from previous years to determine when the “busy season” will arrive and how to deal with it. But, this way is often a hit-or-miss strategy that causes small businesses to purchase too much product, thereby offsetting their profit margins for the week or month.
AI can help managers eliminate this guesswork by compiling predictive analytics that help direct the decision making process. Of course, it won’t eliminate the possibility of a restaurant running out of a supply because of a vendor error. However, by eliminating the trial and error of product purchasing, businesses of all sizes will have an easier time maintaining their profit margins.
Analyzing Up-To-Date Inventory, Sales, Purchasing, and Customer Trends
Once a business nails down its procurement processes, the next step is to translate it into sales. To do so, managers typically rely on data collected from their POS system to find out what their customers are buying and how much of it. But, this information is often incomplete at best, and tortuously unorganized at worst.
AI can collect and analyze real-time inventory, sales, and purchasing data and juxtapose that data against customer trends. This gives owners and managers an up-to-date look at how their business is performing in their market, and predict what changes may lie ahead. There are a handful of POS software companies currently developing ways to integrate AI into their software in order to perform these tasks. Once these products hit the market, managers would be remiss to avoid investing in it. Having a complete and organized set of data to base your decisions from is nothing short of a goldmine.
Reaching a Wider Customer Base
AIs most lucrative feature for restaurants may not come from the process improvement side of the equation at all. In fact, AI may be most useful in that it can help businesses reach a wider customer base by utilizing data to help marketers hone in on potential customers and utilize language applications to help people from different background communicate effectively.
As we’ve noted previously, data from WiFi can be invaluable to a small business looking to scale up. It can show you how long customers are staying in your restaurant, and how many walk by during the course of a day. This data can go a long way toward crafting a marketing strategy that gets customers in the door or tailoring your menu to fit the specific needs of your customers.
Other applications such as Google Translate already use language functions to help people communicate. But, this system has proven to be fallible at best. AI has already begun to branch into language translation and has been shown to translate as accurately as native speakers. For restaurants, this could mean you will be able to welcome new customers who don’t share your language without relying on having employees or faulty technology doing the translating.
Whether you are a tech geek or a skeptic, AI has already proven itself to be a valuable part of the business world. Now is not the time to be running from technology. It is here to stay. Instead, focus your efforts on how you can utilize this technology to improve your business.