Ever since the COVID-19 pandemic, businesses of every industry have turned to digitalization to make their work safer and more efficient. Particularly in the hospitality industry, digitalization is reshaping customer experiences. Learn how your food service business can leverage new restaurant technology.
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What is digitalized restaurant technology?
Reliance on digitalized restaurant technology has been described by McKinsey as the new normal. The coronavirus pandemic spurred a growth in hospitality and restaurant industry technology designed to improve customer service and customer-facing processes while allowing employees to physically take a step back. But the impact of these digital solutions on the restaurant industry is lasting even after the pandemic.
The restaurant technology introduced in this period includes things like customer service chatbots, online ordering, HR software, and contactless payments. And digital solutions work; digital restaurant sales across the U.S. increased by 13% in 2021 and the trend is not waning.
Adopting new technologies in your food service business has a host of benefits, and allows you to do more than you would otherwise. And the best part? These tools are much more affordable than they were in the past.
Due to a rise in demand and the variety of pricing models available, making use of innovative restaurant technology is easier than it’s ever been. With more and more businesses turning to digital solutions for things like online ordering and customer loyalty programs, the range of options has expanded. And with that expansion comes affordability as different service providers seek to distinguish their products.
Why adopt digital restaurant technology?
Revamping your food service business by introducing digital innovations in day-to-day operations carries several benefits. Restaurant technology impacts and streamlines every area of your work, whether it is related to customer service or restaurant management.
Improve health and safety
The first reason to embrace digitalization in your restaurant is also the reason it took off to begin with. Implementing digital solutions that reduce contact between you and your customers helps keep them safe.
It isn’t only customers who benefit. When you implement digital restaurant management tools, you also make it easier to comply with any health and safety regulations, keeping your employees safe as well. Restaurant technology that improves data collection also makes it easier to keep an eye on food safety and avoid serving anything that has gone bad.
No matter what you use your chosen digital solutions for, they will save you time. This is because implementing such solutions allows you to centralize and automate routine processes.
Spending less time on repetitive tasks helps you cycle through them faster, getting more done in your day. And automation removes the stress of having to constantly check and recheck figures. Streamlining your restaurant management allows you to focus more on your customers.
Improve customer service
Digital restaurant technology can make things easier for your customers as well. You can respond to orders and questions faster, which is a defining feature of standout service. And thanks to the data collection offered by digital solutions, it is also easier to offer personalized service to regular or returning customers.
By implementing customer service technology in your restaurant, you can also incentivize repeat business with an automated loyalty program. In addition to saving customers money, a loyalty program shows that you recognize their value.
Implementing digital solutions also gives you access to easier data collection. These tools help you improve your customer service by asking for customer feedback, and then using that data to make necessary changes.
Better inventory and supply chain management
Modern restaurant technology will help you reduce waste in your business. Regularly taking stock of your inventory becomes easier when you have software to help. And better inventory management helps you understand when you have too much or too little of something.
More efficient data collection is key to improving your supply chain management. A more accurate picture of your restaurant’s resource needs improves your communication with suppliers. And consistently collecting sales metrics helps you adjust those needs quickly.
What restaurant technology is out there?
When it comes to ways of introducing fresh restaurant technology to your business, you certainly have options. Here are some of the most impactful digital solutions making their way through the restaurant industry.
Online orders and reservations
A growing number of consumers are opting for the convenience of ordering in food instead of making the trip to a restaurant. The global food delivery market is expected to reach $223.7 billion by 2027. Restaurants are noticing this trend, and more and more have begun offering online ordering and delivery, so customers can get their food directly from the business instead of a third-party app like UberEats.
For customers who prefer dining on-site, online reservation systems are another way restaurants are making life easier. Allowing diners to reserve from anywhere means offering the most flexibility possible. And online reservations are a convenient way to manage table availability, since schedules are all recorded.
Inventory management software
One of the single most useful pieces of restaurant technology your business can implement is inventory management software. A quality inventory management system will help you avoid food waste, which in the hospitality industry accounts for $100 billion in lost revenue each year.
These programs don’t only save you money, they also save time and can help your supply chain become more sustainable. Paying attention to your restaurant’s environmental impact is crucial, given how much emphasis customers now put on supporting sustainable businesses.
AI customer service
Artificial intelligence is in use across a variety of industries these days, and the restaurant industry is no exception. As with any customer-facing business, responding quickly and informatively to any questions is key to a successful interaction.
To that end, AI chatbots have proven quite useful. You can use them to provide answers to commonly asked customer questions, such as when people ask about your opening hours or reservation policy. The chatbot can also direct customers to your online booking platform or your menu.
Automated customer service is also a great way to collect feedback or reviews. Your AI can store customer answers, so it becomes easy to act on your feedback.
Another way companies use restaurant technology to offer standout service is by introducing loyalty programs. These loyalty programs typically integrate with a restaurant’s point-of-sale (POS) system, and are conceptually fairly simple.
The core concept of a loyalty program is that customers who continue eating at your restaurant get some sort of reward. The most common sort of loyalty program for restaurants is points-based, where customers get points each time they buy something. But some businesses also offer punch cards or a membership discount.
Restaurant management is made much simpler by HR software, which lets you automate most aspects of employee management. It helps you conduct payroll, manage vacation days and absences, and track employee schedules. It also makes onboarding new employees easier.
There are two big reasons contactless payment is so popular in the restaurant industry. The first goes back to the pandemic, where contactless payments took off as a safer alternative to in-person transactions. And the second is that contactless payments give customers the flexibility to pay with a debit card, smartphone, or smartwatch.
Contactless payments are convenient for business owners as well, since customers can pay faster and lines will be shorter. Having a system for digital payments in place also makes accounting easier, since all your transactions will be recorded.
Food safety software
Restaurants can save themselves significant amounts of time by investing in food safety software that makes adhering to best hygiene practices as easy as possible. These programs provide an easy, paperless way to audit the state of your kitchen and make sure you’re keeping your employees and customers safe. They also allow any incidents that do happen to be reported in real time, so that you can resolve them ASAP.
If you are looking for a fast and comprehensive piece of restaurant technology to facilitate inspections of all types, Lumiform has you covered. You can easily assess your environment to be sure you are following all applicable quality and safety regulations, and also make your business more efficient by monitoring your supply chain.