Why now is the time to embrace technology in your restaurant’s operations
Technology is touching all aspects of our lives and is radically changing the way things are done in all industries. This is especially true for the restaurant business, with 79 percent of customers stating that technology has helped to improve their experience. If restaurants are able to embrace technology, it can help make for a more tailored and optimized experience for customers, keeping them coming back for more in this competitive landscape.
The QSR industry is worth $198.9 billion in the U.S., and this number is rapidly growing each year. What’s unique about restaurants compared to other retail segments is that the restaurant experience is still primarily driven by brick and mortar.
Technology is a fantastic tool to help your restaurant stand out from the competition and take your dining experience to the next level. Smart Restaurant technologies provide the right tools that can get more orders out quickly and with less errors, helping to improve customer satisfaction.
Here are three tools that you can employ in your restaurant to create a smart restaurant experience, and it may be easier than you think.
Online and Mobile Ordering
Does your restaurant currently offer takeout? Or are you a QSR or fast casual restaurant searching for ways to reduce customer wait times and lineups? If so, then there is good news. Customers are increasingly demanding technologies that facilitate online and mobile ordering. In a study by Toast Restaurant POS consisting of 1100 participants, 88 percent of respondents reported that they have placed an online order through a restaurant’s website, while 27 percent stated they use online ordering on a weekly basis.
With more customers opting to use online tools to place their orders for either delivery or pickup, now is a great time for restaurants to adopt online ordering technology. This can help realize higher revenues from decreased wait times, push out more accurate orders due to the elimination of possible human errors, as well as provide access to real-time data and analytics which are tracked through the online ordering system. This makes it easier for restaurant managers to be able to track the popularity of various menu items and know which items need more promotion to increase their demand.
A great example of a QSR that has an effective online ordering system is Domino’s Pizza. Through their website, users are able to choose whether they would prefer to have their meal delivered or if they would prefer to go in and pick it up. They also have access to the entire menu which is available at the nearest Domino's to their current location. Their online ordering system offers a variety of customization options, allowing customers to make any changes that they would like to their pizza to suit their taste. Offering this level of customizability ensures that customers can always find exactly what they are looking for, leading to higher satisfaction rates.
If you are looking to reduce lineups and create a more efficient ordering system in your restaurant, self-ordering kiosks are also a great option. This technology results in savings on labor costs as they eliminate the need to have a large number of staff on-site, and they enhance the overall customer experience. This is especially true when it comes to younger audiences such as millennials and Gen Z customers as they prefer such an ordering experience.
Customer-Facing Tabletop Tablets
One of the areas that has seen the most innovation in the QSR space is the menus. In some restaurants, tabletop tablets allow brands to update their menus as and when necessary, without the hassle of reprinting menus or changing the menu boards each time a change is made. Currently, 37 percent of restaurant owners believe that customer ordering technology is the single most important type of tech they should try, because what a customer chooses to order determines how much a business will make from that particular transaction. Digital menu boards and digital self-serve kiosks are also being implementing in many QSRs.
Smart Restaurants are also giving their customers the ability to pay for their orders securely through the tabletop tablets or self-serve kiosks. By streamlining the order to payment process and adopting more of the self-service approach, customers may become more willing to place larger orders of higher monetary value. Taco Bell - for example - saw a 20 percent increase in digital order sales over orders that were made traditionally through a human cashier, showing that customers value convenience and the ability to order and pay on their own terms.
Digital Loyalty Programs
Smart Restaurants are adopting technology that is breathing new life into the age-old loyalty programs that have been around for decades. Loyalty programs can now be personalized and tailored to the needs and preferences of each individual customer, allowing restaurants to create rewards that their customers value and enjoy. These new technologies can help restaurants keep track of a customer’s behavior and use the feedback to enhance their experience. It also does away with the need for physical punch cards that can be easily lost or forgotten elsewhere.
The Starbucks app is a great model for a loyalty program. It is not only based on the number of visits a customer makes to a Starbucks store, but it also tracks their behavior as well, allowing Starbucks to gain insight into how often their customers visit, what they order, and why. These are great data points, as they allow the marketing teams to create promotions that will appeal to each individual customer, increasing the likelihood that they will return to make future purchases.
Faced with a variety of challenges, including significant increases in technology and the rise of the savvy consumer, many restaurants are currently being forced to come up with new ways to keep their customers coming back. Technology provides a solution to some of these problems, but it is up to the restaurants to choose the right solutions that best meet their business needs.