A key part of running a successful restaurant involves investing in the best restaurant technology. However, in order to do this, you need to build an understanding of wider restaurant technology trends. In this article, you can find out about trends related to POS systems, contactless payments, virtual reality, QR codes, and more.
- What is the Restaurant Industry?
- Why is it Important to Follow Latest Restaurant Technology Trends?
- The Latest Restaurant Technology Trends You Should Know About
- 1. Cloud-Based POS Systems
- 2. Digital Kitchen Display Screens
- 3. Restaurant Chatbots
- 4. Contactless Payments
- 5. The Adoption of QR Codes
- 6. Augmented Reality Menus
- 7. Air Purification Technology
- 8. Online Ordering Solutions
- 9. Digital Inventory Tracking
- 10. Virtual Reality Onboarding
- Restaurant Technology: POS Systems Overview
- Restaurant Technology: Restaurant Management Systems
Before exploring restaurant technology, it is important to define what the restaurant industry is. Put simply, this refers to the industry surrounding the provision of food services where customers are able to order and eat on the premises. The exclusion of businesses that do not allow customers to sit on-site and eat their food is the main way in which the restaurant industry is separated from the wider food industry.
With this in mind, the restaurant industry can include everything from traditional standalone restaurants, to bars, diners, fast food restaurants and other similar businesses. Restaurants can be independent businesses, part of a wider chain or franchise, or connected to other businesses, such as hotels, resorts and casinos.
The restaurant industry also forms part of the larger and more varied hospitality industry.
The restaurant industry is constantly changing, especially as customer expectations shift, and this makes keeping up with the latest restaurant technology absolutely essential for any successful business in the industry.
Today, depending on the type of restaurant business, customers may want swift service, options to place their orders in advance, options for sitting in or taking their food away, excellent online customer service, food options that meet their specific dietary needs, online booking tools, a variety of payment methods, and much more.
Failing to meet these expectations can provide your competitors with a clear advantage over your restaurant.
The Latest Restaurant Technology Trends You Should Know About
There are a number of restaurant technology trends that those within the industry need to be aware of, in order to capitalise on them fully and meet the expectations of customers. These are outlined in detail below.
1. Cloud-Based POS Systems
Cloud-based POS systems are one of the major restaurant technology trends to be aware of and these are point-off-sale systems, which utilise cloud technology for deployment and data storage. Cloud-based systems are offered by third-party service providers on a software as a service (SaaS) model, and the systems can be accessed remotely, using a wide variety of internet-enabled devices.
Video: Cloud-Based POS vs Traditional POS Systems
Touchscreen POS Systems
Touchscreen POS systems work as you might expect, allowing users to select different options by touching the screen. These systems will usually include a screen that customers can use to make a payment and add on a tip for good service, and the touchscreen component makes this restaurant technology extremely user-friendly.
Self Order Kiosks (POS)
Self-order kiosks are an increasingly common piece of restaurant technology, allowing customers to order their food using a self-service order point. Such solutions can reduce demands on waiting staff, while allowing customers to easily customise their orders and pay for the food prior to receiving the meal. This has become an especially popular restaurant technology trend within fast food restaurants and restaurants offering takeaway services.
Handheld POS Systems
Handheld POS systems are valuable restaurant technology investments because these systems allow employees to carry a device to restaurant tables and process payments there. The POS system can also be used for order taking and this can all ultimately help to improve both accuracy and efficiency.
For more information about restaurant POS systems, read “Restaurant POS Systems: The Latest and Future Trends” article.
2. Digital Kitchen Display Screens
Another example of restaurant technology that is intended to improve accuracy and efficiency can be seen with digital kitchen display screens. These screens provide many of the benefits of printed tickets or handwritten displays, but with digital advantages. They can also be connected directly to point-of-sale systems.
As a result, orders can be made to appear on the screen automatically, once they have been processed through the POS system. The legibility is far superior to handwritten orders and printed tickets, and lots of information can be displayed and tracked on a single screen, including each order, service or delivery times, and inventory data.
Video: Regla, Kitchen Display System
3. Restaurant Chatbots
Restaurant chatbots are an example of the influence that artificial intelligence is having on restaurant technology. Chatbots are bots, which can deliver automated, text-based responses to customers. This makes them extremely valuable for customer service because they can be made available on a 24/7 basis.
You can explore restaurant chatbots further, learn about what they are, and gain an understanding of how they can help restaurants and customers via the “Restaurant Chatbots: What They Are, Their Use and Benefits” article.
Video: A 2 Minute Look at a Restaurant Chatbot
Many restaurants are moving towards becoming entirely cashless, while others are trying to provide customers with as many payment options as possible. Regardless, contactless payment processing has become an essential restaurant technology solution, allowing customers to pay using contactless credit or debit cards, or mobile wallets.
Contactless payments have several key benefits. They can be processed much faster than conventional cash payments, or PIN-based card payments, and the procedure for actually paying is also faster. Additionally, the coronavirus pandemic highlighted hygiene advantages, while there are security and transparency benefits too.
Those involved with restaurant and hospitality management are also turning to QR codes for a wider range of uses. One of the biggest examples involves using QR codes to allow customers to order from the restaurant menu.
Here, the QR code directs customers to a page on the restaurant website, where they can place an order for food. This removes the need to wait for a restaurant worker to take their order and means menus do not need to be printed and placed on tables. QR codes can also potentially be used for payments, or to access nutrition information.
6. Augmented Reality Menus
Augmented reality is a restaurant technology that is still emerging and arguably in an experimental phase. Augmented reality can be used to provide customers with access to three-dimensional images of food items on the restaurant menu, and this can then be connected to the ordering system and POS system.
However, it is feasible that augmented reality could go much further in the future. For instance, it could be possible to use a smartphone and a physical menu together. The phone can be aimed at a menu item, and then nutrition information, or other relevant information, can then be presented to the customer via their smartphone.
Video: Menu AR – menu of restaurants in augmented reality
7. Air Purification Technology
In a world that is coming to terms with the long-term ramifications of COVID-19, businesses of all kinds need to be mindful of ways they can help customers to feel safe in a world where they are more aware of the possibility of viruses and other threats being transmissible in places where people gather.
A good example of restaurant technology that can assist with this is air purification technology. Air purifiers can help to remove threats from the air, and can also make restaurants a more pleasant environment in general.
Video: Safest Air for Restaurants – Genano Air Purification in The Glass, Helsinki
Although the restaurant industry is typically defined by the ability to provide on-site dining, the COVID-19 pandemic and other societal changes have shifted this somewhat, with a growing number of restaurants relying on takeaway services, their own delivery services, and third-party services like Uber Eats to provide off-site dining.
To capitalise on this fully, managers and other decision-makers need to invest in restaurant technology that provides online ordering solutions. This means customers should be able to explore the menu online, place an order, pay for their order, and either have it delivered, request a collection time, or dine in at a particular time.
Electronic or digital inventory tracking systems have emerged as a vital piece of restaurant technology, allowing businesses to continually track stock levels and order new supplies at the best possible moment, while also identifying relevant trends, such as times when demand increases, and times when demand falls.
Optimising inventory management is essential for any business looking to improve financial outcomes. Digital systems can be synchronised with POS systems, so that inventory information is always up-to-date and accurate, while alerts can be set up to notify users when supplies of a particular item start to run low.
10. Virtual Reality Onboarding
Businesses have used virtual reality technology in a number of interesting ways, but it has struggled to catch on as a form of restaurant technology until relatively recently. One of the biggest ways in which VR is being implemented within these environments is to onboard new recruits.
Here, virtual reality sessions can allow new hires, or potential hires, to explore restaurant facilities and see the restaurant in action, all from the comfort of their own home. This minimises the restaurant’s disruption while providing recruits with the information they need about restaurant procedures.
Video: How Hilton Uses Virtual Reality for Training
Restaurant point-of-sale systems, or POS systems, are one of the most vital pieces of restaurant technology, and businesses need to get to grips with how to get the most from them. This means staying up-to-date with the latest trends in this area and understanding the numerous ways POS systems can drive restaurants forwards.
The “POS Systems: Overview and Importance in the Hospitality Industry” article provides much more detail on the latest trends, the trends that are expected to take hold in the years to come, and the benefits of adopting these trends.
Restaurant Technology: Restaurant Management Systems
Restaurant management systems are a form of restaurant technology intended to bring many of the common restaurant management tasks under one roof. These systems have a number of benefits, potentially helping to improve efficiency, data consistency, financial outcomes and customer satisfaction.
Read “Restaurant Management Systems: Overview, Key Aspects and Features” to explore this topic further, learn about how these systems work, and gain a deeper understanding of the benefits of investing in a system of this kind.
Staying up-to-date with the latest restaurant technology trends is crucial for effective restaurant management because it makes it more likely that you will invest in the right.