Technology is developing at a fast pace, and many in the restaurant sector are responding to the latest tech trends in order to develop, grow and innovate. If you’re working in the food service industry or looking to make an investment in it, you can thrive in 2021 with the help of these six tech trends.
Well-implemented tech makes a huge contribution to profit in the restaurant sector, streamlining processes and growing customer bases. Keeping up with the latest trends won’t always be easy, but it will always be important, improving your chances of operating a successful franchise. If you’re struggling to keep up with your competitors, a digital transformation can flip the script.
Statistically, 80% of restaurants are turning to tech to improve their business model. 41% of restaurants are, for example, using handheld server tablets, and 68% of customers agree that these tablets improve the restaurant experience [Upserve].
The 6 latest tech trends in the restaurant sector
Now, it’s time to dive in. What are the latest tech trends innovating the restaurant sector, and why should you, whether you’re a franchisor or a franchisee, be paying attention to them? Read on, and find out...
1. Delivery apps and ordering technology
From third party apps like Deliveroo and JustEat to order and delivery options via the restaurant’s website, the food delivery sector is thriving, expanding and extremely profitable. Particularly across the past year, more restaurants than ever have made their way onto delivery platforms or started offering delivery services, and others will continue to follow suit in order to meet changing customer demands and maximise profits.
There are pros and cons, and different considerations to make as to whether you should be implementing technology in your business. Would your franchise be better placed to fulfill deliveries via a Deliveroo-style platform or via its own website, using an in-house team of delivery drivers, for example. Either way, though, offering delivery and takeaway options is one more way to connect with customers, and tech is developing at pace to accommodate this connection with efficiency and ease.
>> Read more:
- 5 Qualities of a Successful Franchisor
- 4 Things Franchisees Never Have Time for But Are Essential for Running a Successful Business
- How to Launch a Franchise and Get Noticed
- 4 Elements of a Successful Franchise
- How to Start a New Business on a Shoe-String Budget
- The Ultimate Guide to Franchising Success
2. Online booking platforms
Calling up a restaurant to make a booking is quickly becoming a thing of the past, and many customers prefer to be able to book a table online in just a few clicks using platforms like Eat App, Tablein and OpenTable. Slotting online booking tech into your operational processes won’t just help your customers to have an easier time of it, it’ll make life easier for your franchise, too, allowing you to:
- Quickly and easily manage seating
- Manage waitlists
- Save dining preferences
- Collect customer data (allowing for loyalty rewards to be offered down the line)
- Collect market insights
3. Digital communications
Staff no longer need to communicate with each other, from restaurant floor to kitchen, via small pads of paper and scribbled orders and preferences. In many restaurants, wait staff now take orders on tablets, and in many more, customers now have the option to make orders themselves. The kitchen staff receive orders through on digital menu boards, allowing them to:
- Prioritise and flag dietary requirements
- Track meal delivery times
- Streamline back-of-house operations
By no means do we expect restaurant operators to start replacing new employees with technology. But we are seeing that if they can automate specific steps in the diner experience, the savings on labor costs can be re-distributed as higher wages to their employees. This pay increase could result in better employee retention and more talent competing for restaurant jobs.
– Liza B. Zimmerman, Forbes
4. Automated inventory management
Automated inventory management technology is allowing restaurant franchises across the UK to save time, avoid costly mistakes and reduce food waste. For every £1 that a restaurant invests in reducing their food waste, £7 in operational costs is saved, creating a 600% return on the investment [WRAP].
Inventory management platforms can notify restaurants when stock is running low, automate the re-ordering process and remove the margin of human error when it comes to making calculations and tracking amounts.
>> Read more:
- 12 Things to Consider When Identifying the Right Location for Your Restaurant Franchise
- 3 Ways to Get Funding For Your Restaurant Franchise
- Regulations and Licences Required to Open a Restaurant
- 14 Tips for Defining and Reaching Your Restaurant's Target Customers
- Hiring Employees for Your Restaurant
- Choosing a Concept for Your Restaurant
5. Payment technologies
Payment technologies like contactless aren’t brand-new to the scene, but thanks to increased contactless limits and ever-improving tech, they’re certainly gaining popularity in 2021. Whether it’s tapping your card over typing your pin, or paying with your mobile phone, customers enjoy the ease that new, simplified payment tech provides. There are three key pros to payment technologies that simplify the process to a click or a tap:
- It’s the most hygienic way to pay for goods and services, which has been a huge consideration for many during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- It’s simple and efficient, done in an instant, and as customers don’t need to remember a PIN or type it out correctly, there’s less margin for error.
- Newer tech is often more portable and reliable than older style card machines and payment methods.
6. QR codes
QR code technology has been around for a while, but during the pandemic, it’s really come into its own in the restaurant and food service sectors. QR codes have allowed UK businesses to encourage visiting customers during the pandemic to check in via the NHS app so that they can be contacted at a later date if there’s any risk that they’ve been exposed to COVID. They’ve also been put into wide use as a way for customers to access an online ordering platform, reducing points of contact between staff and customers.
Nearly a third of consumers said disposable or single-use menus would make them feel safe as restaurants reopen, according to Restaurant Business sister company Technomic. QR codes take that one step further by putting menus on guests’ phone screens.
– Joe Guszkowski, Restaurant Business
Become a successful franchisee and enjoy running your own business in the food sector
Understanding the latest tech trends in the restaurant sector (and using them to the advantage of your franchise) will put you in a solid position, but there are even more ways to be ahead of the curve. Consider making your business more sustainable, or investing in security measures to protect your franchise.
Lily Sweeney, Point Franchise ©