We’re in the midst of the Fourth Industrial Revolution experiencing a sudden burst of new, and innovative technologies. Businesses that are inherently set up to adapt to digital disruption will see exponential growth, a greater share of profits, and be able to offer frictionless experiences to their customers.
In the restaurant sector, technology is enabling better operations at every point in the value chain. For many operators, the pressure to innovate amid such rapid technological breakthroughs can seem a daunting task, and quite understandably so. But thanks to these progressive companies, embracing digital disruption has become quite effortless. From Restolabs for online and contactless ordering to Postmates for delivery and Revel for Point-of-sale (POS) — we’ve vetted the top 10 tech tools your restaurant should be using in 2020.
When choosing an online ordering software, there are some key points to remember — does it seamlessly integrate with your POS? Does it offer multi-channel ordering? What payment gateways does it have? Does it have in-built digital marketing tools? How flexible is the menu upload system? Is real-time analytics included?
Among a sea of tough competitors, Restolabs is one of the best online ordering software that ticks all of these boxes. Additionally, with a small set-up fee, bargain monthly charges, and absolutely zero hidden cost, their pricing is reasonable and more affordable than other providers in the category such as ChowNow.
Online ordering was touted as the next big thing in the restaurant sector, but the COVID-19 pandemic has now made it a quintessential for the survival and growth of the restaurant industry.
POS systems these days do much more than handle payments. Tracking inventory, managing receipts, analyzing customer data, invoicing are just some of the tasks that a modern POS oversees. No wonder restaurants require a robust POS system and Revel falls perfectly in this category. This iPad-based system is best suited for mid and large restaurants such as franchises, catering services, and restaurants with multiple locations.
For new restaurants, Square is a great option. It’s compatible with all iOS and Android devices and does away with long-term contracts. The POS system features real-time sales, shift reports, payroll management, custom floor plans, etc.
We recommend selecting a POS system based on restaurant size and needs. The requisites of a small independent restaurant will vary greatly from that of a quick-service franchise.
The necessity of an in-house online ordering system and hence decreasing reliance on third-party aggregators cannot be stressed enough. Continued dependence on the latter will greatly affect a restaurant’s profits in the long run and many operators have now started speaking out against unfair practices by such third-party services. Therefore, along with an in-house online ordering, restaurants need to invest in their own delivery fleet or find a reliable delivery partner.
Postmates tops the chart in this category for us. The company has always been at the forefront of cutting edge technology, honored with the Best Innovation of 2019 by Time’s magazine for its semi-autonomous delivery robot named Serve.
Another reason why delivery is such a critical tech tool is because of the rise of ghost kitchens predicted to offer a $1 trillion global opportunity by 2030, according to a Euromonitor.
Marketing has always been that all-important bridge between a brand and a customer. In today’s tech-driven era, this channel of communication has evolved massively. Digital, of course, is the predominant force at the moment and an efficient marketing tool can help restaurants harness the power of digital for immense gains.
In this sector, Eateria is one of the most in-demand tools because of its comprehensive features that cover almost all areas of online marketing. These include email, text message, mobile, social media marketing alongside other features such as reputation management, birthday and VIP clubs, coupons, and review monitoring. They provide real-time metrics to help restaurants understand the impact of their marketing efforts, segregate the activities that work and don’t work for them, as well as create data-driven strategies.
The COVID-19 pandemic has all but solidified contactless payment as the requisite tech tool for restaurants. Earlier, when it came to online payments, the emphasis was mostly on data security but now the spotlight also shines on public health and safety and hence the growth in demand for contactless payment.
Mobile wallets such as Apple Pay, Google Pay and Samsung Pay, which use Near-Field Communications (NFC) remain popular because they minimize physical contact. Brands like Clover Go help restaurants set up these NFC and cashless payments, making it a great tool for deliveries in particular because of their on-the-go solution. Clover Go also offers other key features such as setting up discounts and tips, building and texting receipts, and running sales reports.
Online visibility is a trait that can make or break a restaurant business. No, we’re not exaggerating in the least. Take this stat for instance, ‘Restaurants near me’ generates 6.2 million organic searches per month making it the most popular ‘near me’ search query on Google. Plus, people who search for restaurants online have almost a 90% conversion rate. So if your presence online is obscure, then there’s no way you can survive in this cut-throat business.
To increase discoverability, it’s mandatory to have a branded website. And you don’t need external agencies for this, a good online ordering provider can also help you create an efficient and great looking website and mobile app. Restolabs for one offers this feature and can even translate complicated menus online, making it much more simplified.
Besides a branded website and app, it’s important to sign up for Google My Business, Yelp, TripAdvisor and maybe even look at the newer platforms like ChefsFeed which offers Yelp-like services but from experts in the food business.
On-Premise contactless dining
Triggered by the fear of coronavirus transmission, customers are increasingly seeking out contactless everything, dining included. This has led restaurants to reshape their businesses quickly and thanks to technology, this process of pivoting has become slightly less taxing.
Delivery and takeaways are going to be the most trusted forms of restaurant experience now and in the future, but this doesn’t mean that customers will stop eating out altogether. To build more confidence among on-premise dines, restaurants are not looking towards contactless dining.
Presto is one of the companies providing an end-to-end contactless dining kit to restaurants. This kit allows customers to perform all the regular tasks that they normally used to at a restaurant but by making minimal physical contact. Mobile menu, the digital waitlist for guests to check-in using their smartphone, contactless payment, computer vision that measures social distancing, and tracks occupancy are some of the features offered by Presto.
OpenTable, with 26 million monthly users is one of the most popular restaurant reservation apps out there. But others who are quickly catching up such as Seven Rooms, which also track guests’ dining and dietary preferences. Such personalized features have become more important than ever now in the pandemic era. While delivery will remain the primary revenue generator for all restaurants until the foreseeable future, on-premise dining is gradually starting to open up. One of the precautions restaurants are taking to ensure safety during physical dine-ins is asking customers health-related questions when they book a table via restaurant reservation apps.
AI and machine learning are also helping to bring in new transformations to online reservations. Allset is one app that uses these innovations allowing diners to not only make a reservation but also pay for it in advance.
Technology can help offer better customer experiences but it can be just as effective in improving internal operations for restaurants. One such area where a tech tool can play a valuable role in streamlining the everyday functioning of a restaurant is staff scheduling.
Harri is one of the best known among the many companies offering staff scheduling software. It easily syncs with POS, payrolls, and other restaurant management systems. Harri offers several other features including smart staff scheduling, facial recognition clock-ins, and seamless communication among employees. It also enables integrated talent acquisition tools and real-time reporting and analytics to help gain insight into employee performance.
Although back-of-house (BOH) consists of all the activities that customers don’t get to see or experience, it’s still the heart of every restaurant’s success. Needless to say, all the behind-the-scenes operations must run like an assembly line. This is where technology like xtraCHEF, a cloud-based restaurant management platform can step in to help improve productivity and maximize profits.
xtraCHEF leverages innovations like machine learning and data science and combines business intelligence, operations, and automation to help restaurants achieve high BOH performance. It offers features like recipe and inventory management, streamlines purchasing and order, provides budgets and forecasting as well as helps manage food costs in real-time.
Implementing restaurant technology is no longer an option, but an absolute necessity. With so many options to choose from, restaurants must first determine their requirements clearly and communicate them with the selected providers. Remember, not all tech solutions are suitable for all kinds and types of restaurant businesses. It’s a match you have to find for your business.
These top ten we’ve listed here have all received industry experts’ nods, but more importantly, they’ve achieved great reviews from customers.