5 Technological Trends in the Restaurant Industry

It’s mind-blowing to ponder how rapidly life has shifted over the last couple of decades. For instance, it wasn’t that long ago that I would regularly find myself helplessly lost trying to get around the city. It’s easy to forget how maddening it was to deal with the dog-eared and often missing pages of the once ubiquitous Thomas Guide maps. Today, I simply exclaim “Okay Google” or “Hey Siri” and then ask to be guided to my next destination.

As of one year ago, almost 70% of American adults owned a smart-phone, which is quite remarkable when one considers that only 35% did four years prior (Pew Research Center). Seeing how the restaurant business can’t help but also be markedly affected by such technological change, it makes sense that business leaders are investing a good deal in acquiring new technology that can help keep them ahead of the curve.

5 Technological Trends- Diners are already finger-signing their bills by swiping screens and utilizing smartphone applications to order on the fly. However, this is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg and foodservice entrepreneurs would be well served in being aware of the following five technological trends that are blazing the trail in improving how restaurants do business:

1. Apps Replacing Humans– Speaking of smartphone applications, this is where they are poised to make a huge impact. Of course the vast majority of sit-down service restaurants still employ humans to take diners’ orders, but someday soon customers may very well be tapping a table-top screen that comprehensively showcases dish options, altogether forgoing interaction with waiters.

2. App Payments– All kinds of restaurants are increasingly adopting payment via mobile apps such as Apple Pay and Android Pay. Also known as “contactless payment,” customers are increasingly enjoying the convenience of whipping out the smartphone (or a smartwatch) and seamlessly paying at the register. Notably, in some countries this form of transaction is already preferred by around 50% of shoppers.

3. Reservation Assistance– Convenience is always a terrific selling point and yet again it is embodied in a smartphone (and website) application. For a cut of the revenue, services like OpenTable provide restaurants with software tools that help in optimizing reservation books, seating more diners, and providing better service.

4. Loyalty Programs– These are a great tool to help in customer retention and, once again, most are now found in mobile app format. The bottom line is that, in exchange for rewards, restaurants can keep their diners coming back. 

5. Food Deliveries– Restaurants delivering food to your door is nothing new, but new services are now online offering customers numerous options for ordering in. Arguably GrubHub is the most established, though some others are becoming more competitive. Essentially, rather than going to the trouble of phoning a restaurant and putting in an order, these apps allow customers to choose from a myriad of participating businesses and then pay in one fell swoop.



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