Digital solutions have historically taken a while to emerge in the restaurant industry. The pandemic of COVID-19 changed that in 2020, causing food and beverage outlets to look for solutions outside of the box. Recent trends have seen many restaurants use technology to adapt to new realities, even if reluctantly. The idea is to eliminate dine-in guests, promote off-premises and al fresco dining, or install plexiglass screens and table dividers, wear gloves and masks and sanitize lots.
Throughout this new connected and contactless era, restaurants have been transformed by new technologies to survive, and even thrive. It’s no longer possible for the food and beverage industry to ignore emerging trends that assist businesses to reinvent themselves to remain relevant and competitive, including online ordering, self-checkouts, and touchless payments.
Since off-premise consumption is predicted to drive the growth of the restaurant industry, technology is not just about improving operations and service delivery but is also about reimagining restaurants.
How can you stay a step ahead of the competition in 2021 by embracing the latest digital trends and tools?
- Applications for online ordering and delivery
Due to restrictions, sanitary regulations, and even closures, restaurants remain vulnerable to online food ordering and contactless home-delivery systems. As diners become accustomed to using this service, they will continue to do so as long as they get the food they want when, where, and how they want it.
Those unable to provide in-house food ordering and delivery will continue to rely on third-party food delivery apps like UberEats, Foodpanda, and Door Dash. Nonetheless, as diners report preferring to order direct from restaurants, we can expect that more restaurant chains will follow the lead of bigger fast-food chains and invest in building their integrated digital platforms and mobile apps. Restaurants can stay close to their customers despite the distance due to this close digital proximity.
2. Using contactless payments
Today, contactless technology is becoming mainstream, and customers can use their smartphones, smartwatches, and smart cards to make payments via custom apps or touchscreens. Restaurants around the world have slowly been adopting new payment technologies, but with the pandemic, this trend has accelerated. Contactless payments are expected to triple worldwide from $2 trillion to $6 trillion by 2024, and having these options is said to be extremely important for 34% of customers. Cashless payments prevent human contact, are safer and hygienic, and are convenient, quick, and instant. Additionally, it’s more efficient from a cash flow perspective. In order not to be left behind in the coming year, restaurants that haven’t yet invested and planned for mobile and digital payments need to do so now.
3. Online reservations for tables
With the advancement of online table reservation technology, the art of making a phone call to book a table is becoming less and less relevant. You can find availabilities and book on the go with apps like Eat App, Tablein, or OpenTable. Through technology-enabled reservations systems, restaurants can manage tables, waitlists, credit card information, and customer reservations as well as collect vital client information, whether for market research or call tracking.
Even more, has been done with the concept. Open Table now provides restaurants with the opportunity to provide unique dining experiences through its initiative Experiences. It doesn’t matter if guests want to experience Ramen Nights in celebrity chef Hugh Acheson’s dining room, or a tasting menu at a fixed price. They can book their next special dining experience simply, directly, and according to their preferences.
4. The ‘digital kitchen boards’
With this system, no more paper and pen, no more smudged printed tickets, and no more running from the kitchen to the front-of-house. Restaurants can streamline back-of-house operations with Kitchen Display Systems (KDS), a digital menu board for kitchen staff. The screen is directly connected to the restaurant’s point of sale (POS), automatically displaying orders according to priority and highlighting any special dietary requirements. This digital solution guarantees better communication, accuracy, clearer workflows, and – because it is 100% digital – promises a more sustainable kitchen operation because it tracks meal delivery times and monitors inventory to inform when a product is out of stock.
5. Software that automatically manages inventory
The automation of inventory management will allow you to keep track of food and beverage stocks, anticipate quantities, and even schedule reorders without the need to spend time on tedious and time-consuming tasks. In addition, such software can reduce food wastage, which costs approximately $100 billion annually to the hospitality industry. Companies like Winnow use cutting-edge artificial intelligence (AI) technology to reduce food waste and costs and run their businesses more efficiently and sustainably. Through partnerships with innovative platforms, such as Too Good to Go, restaurants are also preventing their excess food from being wasted, by offering it to customers looking for a good deal. Sustainability being at the forefront of global agendas, saving time and money while helping the planet seems like an obvious choice.
6. The QR code
Restaurants across the world are using QR codes, which are already a staple in mobile-first societies like China. Customers can access online menus, order, and pay using automatic barcode scanning on posters, tables, coasters, doors, and websites, reducing the risks of diners and employees contacting each other. As a result of this technology, which does not require the download of an app, restaurants have been able to conduct contact tracing in many parts of the world to reopen during this pandemic. The QR code will be a ‘must’ for restaurants in 2021 since it offers several convenient benefits at relatively low costs.
6. Technology for air purification
The importance of making diners feel comfortable and safe will increase as they return to restaurants. For restaurant operators, promoting ‘clean air’ through various air purification technologies is becoming a growing focus.
In areas like indoor spaces, technologies that work without harming humans, such as bipolar ionization, are already showing promising results. Both air and surfaces can be sanitized using UV light systems. It’s unlikely that these concepts and products are yet mainstream, but they are the most crucial technologies of all in a world where viruses reign.
These are the top restaurant tech trends to watch in 2021. It is cheaper and easier than ever to install technology that streamlines restaurant operations on tablets and mobile phones, as well as install it on nearly any tablet or smartphone.Consumers are taking notice of the new technologies being adopted by restaurants. The new technology makes dining at restaurants (or ordering food to be delivered) easier and more convenient.
These technology trends are right on time for restaurants to adopt according to current needs. Whether you need help with web application development or custom POS development for your restaurant, we will be more than happy to assist. Restaurant and food ordering apps are part of our expertise at RealMonkey.
7. Accelerating digitalization in the food and beverage sector
Each crisis has its silver lining. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, restaurateurs have been forced to undergo a series of many changes, but they have also seen the opportunity to accelerate technological advances, fast-track change, and reimagine restaurant concepts.
For restaurant owners to run their businesses more efficiently and to differentiate themselves, technology offers unique solutions. This, in turn, allows staff to focus more on creating memorable dining experiences for guests, whether they are on-premises or off-site.