Restaurant Technology Trends 2021 — Innovate to Elevate

With market-disrupting technologies touching every aspect of our lives, the restaurant industry seems to be in a flurry of change too!

Technology has always been on the giving end. It’s our prerogative as a business whether or not we want to make use of technology and innovations that are available to us for our own benefit. We all have been through a situation where we shun new products without even trying to understand their implications and the benefits they offer to our business. And we all have been guilty of this laxity. The guilt doubles up when we see the same product or the service helping our competitors gain an edge over us.

Why didn’t I think of it or take the advantage of the product before my competitors did?

Simple, the competitor was a visionary, and most importantly, took out some time to analyze the benefits of the product being offered.

Fun Fact: Most new technologies and innovations are provided for free by the vendors to businesses to test the market and make improvements. Only a handful of businesses, restaurants in this case, that take the plunge get ahead of their competitors in a bat of an eyelid. These are the businesses that believe in innovative offerings and that understand the dynamics of the ever-evolving world better than the others.

But then comes 2020, the adversity at its max. Restaurants are forced to look beyond the traditional. Technologies and innovations that they neglected for far so long are not helping them stay afloat. While concepts like Ghost Kitchen, Online Ordering, Drone Delivery, Contactless Payments were already on the horizon, finding their way to the system, the onset of this pandemic, brought them into the mainstream. They are the real “winners” of the new world.

So what are the new technologies that restaurants can leverage to get their business back on track of profitability?

Contactless, Self-Ordering Technology

In the new world, contactless is the king!

With the third wave of the pandemic on the horizon, don’t expect full capacity even at 25% seating arrangement. People are choosing to stay indoors for their safety and the safety of others, but they still need food. They’d still crave Panera Bread’s Steak And Arugula On Sourdough and Burger King’s Whoppers, and a good restaurant business must fulfill these cravings. But how? This is exactly what makes contactless the most important of all technologies in the new world.

A DataEssential report suggests that two-thirds of Americans are concerned about eating at restaurants and touching shared objects such as chairs, menus, napkin dispensers, etc.

Restolabs’ Contactless Ordering Technology is bringing back the confidence the customers need to visit restaurants. With minimal touchpoints, mobile reservations, QR-code digital menus, and mobile payments, it eliminates the potential transmission points that in turn, remove hesitations that customers may have.

Restaurant Reservation Technology

Good reservation management can enable a better guest experience.

A restaurant reservation management system draws a line between fast service, quick table turnaround, customer loyalty & frustrated customers, empty tables, and bleeding profits. It is important for a modern-day restaurant to handle reservations well, especially during peak times. Say no to ‘No-Shows’ with reservation software.

Popular reservation technology providers such as Eat App are providing customers with the freedom to make a booking on the move. Leverage guest distribution, floor activity, dining preferences, customer information (birthday, anniversary, etc.) all through a technology-enabled reservation system.

Inventory Management Technology

If you know your inventory well, you always show a profit!

The annual prediction for inventory procurement and allocation has gone out of the window. There are no historical data available that you can refer to accurately plan your inventory requirement in the coming months. Deliveries will be more than dine-ins for indefinite periods of time, and your delivery menu is going to be a lot different than the one you have been managing so far. So what’s the best way to deal with this deviation? Invest in a technology that can help automatically keep track of things like ingredient and liquor amounts, ensuring you never have to run out of stock.

An ideal inventory management and tracking tool, like Upserve, strike a balance between sinking too much cash into your inventory, and at the same time, track wastage, send alerts to add, transfer, and adjust stock for multiple inventory locations through a central POS. Simultaneously, most software can schedule reorders, so you can spend your crucial time building up your business.

Cloud-based Point-of-Sale Technology

People will always dine-out or order-in, a lot of our effort is just ‘how do we make their experience a great one?

Accurate business reporting, reduced wait time, improved customer relationships, automated analysis, error control are some of the benefits of a reliable POS system. The technology has made the restaurant workflows a piece of cake and ensures simplicity and speed. With a plethora of cash and card transactions happening at a restaurant every day, having a POS system has become a necessity.

Posist is a popular cloud-based POS provider enabling restaurants to track their sales correctly, manage the inventory better, and generate insightful business reports. Send tickets directly to the kitchen and save your staff to improve the guest experience. Ultimately, restaurants can boom their operations ensuring higher customer satisfaction.

Restaurant Hiring Technology

Your human talent is your most important talent, do it right, with the right support.

Restaurateurs often struggle between focusing on growing their operations and managing recruitment. Now that most of the operations are moving online, hiring will have a face-lift. Apart from the regular staff, you’d need people to manage online orders, social media branding, as well as drivers who would be delivering your orders.

Don’t lose focus and invest in platforms like Sirvo that allows you to maintain a comprehensive career page where you can post, edit, and close job listings with a single click. Restaurant managers and owners can effectively track applications and hire the best.

Boost your employer branding, showcase personalized content, and attract great talent, all on the go!

Augment & Virtual Reality (AR/VR) Technology

Once you have an AR display, you don’t need any other form of display.

By 2023, over 30 Million AR/VR devices are expected to hit the US markets alone. Huge corporations such as IKEA and Walmart are already leveraging the tech to boost customer shopping experience. Augmented and Virtual Reality has entered the restaurant industry already!

Do you know there’s a bakery in New York city that has completely revamped the customer experience through AR?

The bakery deploys a virtual rendering of cakes and pastries. The customer gets a clear view of how the food will actually look like after preparation. AR Technology for restaurants by Yeppar allows customers to make an informed choice instead of relying on online customer reviews and their recommendations.

The visual representation gives customers the confidence to make a purchase without hesitation. And while they wait for their food to arrive at the table, the application keeps them entertained with interactive games and personalized offers.

Apart from this, AR technology can help restaurants remove language barriers and allow customers from different walks of life to interact with the restaurant staff in the language they are comfortable in. Most applications can be easily customized to suit the specific requirements of a restaurant business.

The restaurant industry operates on thin margins. Technology is a win-win solution for restaurants when it comes to staying relevant and ahead of the competition. It all started with millennials, but now it’s not just about them.

The consumers of today are constantly connected, have higher aspirations regarding quality, convenience, and sustainability. For any restaurant, understanding the lifestyle of their customers, how they interact with the technology, targeting where it matters is a vital part of restaurant success.

Writer | Digital Marketer | Entrepreneur. Good food and a Good Book keep me sane!