What’s next in customer-facing tech? Industry analysts say siloed tech solutions are out and all-in-one solutions are in. That means that any new tools and systems you adopt should be, above all, adaptable – to a range of surroundings, to the addition of new employees and sales streams, and to new applications that work alongside them. A new report from Restaurant Business also advises that new tools be payment-enabled and designed for easy transport. Servers should be able to carry them from tables to the drive-thru to curbside easily and without worrying about losing battery charge, and to process payments on the fly without having to return to the POS.
If you’ve ever ordered a pizza from Domino’s, you’ve gotten a glimpse into how a restaurant brand can harness technology to expedite ordering, upsell successfully and improve loyalty. But it’s one thing for a behemoth brand to accomplish this and quite another for a smaller, independent one. Slice, a tech platform for independent pizza restaurants, is looking to change that and its consumer app has attracted 16,000 independents so far. But according to The Spoon, which named Slice to its list of top-10 tech companies recently, Slice’s acquisition of the POS startup InStore is what’s really allowing it to help indie restaurants improve their customer experience. It’s enabling smaller pizza restaurants to offer the kind of loyalty programs and integrated marketing programs that make ordering from a small, one-store pizzeria as seamless as it is at Domino’s.
Restaurants’ adoption of technology has accelerated steeply during the pandemic – and has also been responsible for keeping many operations running at a time when dining rooms were either closed or restricted. Recent research from PYMENTS and Paytronix illustrates how profound that shift has been: It found that of the $435 billion consumers spent on online food orders in 2020, 61 percent was spent at restaurants that had offered only sit-down dining before the pandemic.
Are you interested in adopting more technology to improve how your operation runs? Here’s a look at the areas in which consumers have used technology most frequently in the past year to support their dining experiences, as well as where they would like to see restaurants incorporate more technology, according to a February 2021 survey from the National Restaurant Association:
Restaurant technology is making it easier for operators to offload all sorts of manual processes that consume time and resources. If the maintenance and repair of your appliances and other equipment are requiring more intervention from you than they should, you can now delegate these tasks to a growing number of companies that consolidate information about your equipment in one place – so you can more easily keep track of warranties, arrange servicing and handle other tasks required to keep your facility operating as it should. The Spoon recently highlighted one such company, 86 Repairs, which digitizes information about all of a restaurant’s equipment, allowing operators to book service people, troubleshoot problems and keep track of warranties in a single dashboard.
You might not be ready to outsource your drive-thru business, phone orders or curbside pickup to a chatbot just yet – but what if you don’t have sufficient staff on hand to manage those channels either? One of the tech innovations that is looking to provide a happy medium is Bite Ninja. The company allows restaurants to outsource drive-thru tasks to gig workers who work remotely but appear on a screen and take customer orders as if they were working onsite. The Spoon reports that the company is looking to expand the model to front-of-house kiosks, phone orders and curbside pickups.