5 Restaurant Technology Trends to Watch in 2019
In today’s age, it’s become impossible to run a successful restaurant without the aid of technology that helps to balance the front and back of the house. Keeping both parties working in harmony towards the common goal- increasing the bottom line.
Over the past few years, certain trends have emerged that have proven to have practical applications for busy entrepreneurs looking to increase the efficiency, output, and customer loyalty of their restaurants.
Digital Inventory Tracking
The advent of software has been able to address supply chain gaps that were previously done by hand or with by using outdated computer systems. This left plenty of opportunity for error- which, as we know, can spell disaster when it comes to perishable inventory!
Digital inventory management systems help with this by allowing owners and managers to track inventory against specific recipes, compare prices, manage invoices, and pinpoint problem areas - including improper portion size and employee theft.
Managing reservations used to be a considerable chore, both for the restaurant and for the guest. Calling ahead and manually sorting through available seating are all labor intensive tasks that take away from the day-to-day functions staff need to perform in order to maintain a profitable service.
Many restaurants are offering an online reservation option on their website for the convenience of their guests and themselves. Premade reservations populate as they are claimed online, keeping your hosts and other staff focused on walk-in clients as they come in. Successful restaurants also use guest management systems or kiosks to efficiently manage tables during service to ensure minimal waiting time for guests.
A revolutionary idea that cropped up a few years back was, what if we let customers manage and pay for their experience at their tables?
There’s nothing more frustrating to a consumer than trying to flag their server down for a refill or to grab the check. When it comes to keeping young children content throughout a meal, it can be tough if getting in and out is dependent on factors outside your control.
Tableside kiosks or tablets help to engage consumers by gamifying the dining experience, through pay-to-play entertainment, allowing them to order sides and drinks, and even conveniently offering them the ability to pay independently at their table.
In the age of delivery giants like Grubhub or Postmates, it’s become impossible for restaurants not to offer online ordering. Much in the same way as making an online reservation, it’s about entering the space where consumers spend the most time, and offering them a convenient way to complete the decision to purchase through your business.
Mobile site optimization is a huge factor in the success of online ordering. Since the majority of people access the internet via a mobile device, the need for making that mobile experience as smooth as possible has never been higher.
Scheduling employees with varying availability can be a frustrating, time consuming administrative task. Instead of trying to manually compare dozens of availabilities, scheduling software aggregates your employee information for you from your POS system and creates the most cost effective, up-to-date schedule possible.
Finally, one of the most important, yet often overlooked components of any restaurant’s success is their ability to solicit, interpret, and act upon customer feedback. The first step is to create opportunities for feedback in the form of surveys, online reviews, and social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Yelp. Offering incentives for completing surveys or leaving an honest review helps engage customers in the process.
After accumulating reviews and doing some social listening, it’s important to look for a common thread, something that points to developing or existing trends in customer perception of your business. If it’s positive, great - but it’s important to find ways to maintain those good experiences. If feedback is largely negative, that’s a sign that there is further work that needs to be done.
Keeping a finger on the pulse of current tech and software trends helps keep your restaurant profitable by minimizing costs associated with human error, inventory and labor mismanagements, and poor customer experience. As these technologies develop, restaurants will need to rely more and more on them in order to keep everything running smoothly.
Co-founder of Enlightened Digital and tech-obsessed female from the Big Apple. Maddie lives by building and redesigning websites, running marathons, and reading anything and everything on the NYT Best Sellers list.