Everyone knows that the COVID-19 pandemic has devastated the restaurant industry.
On some estimates, perhaps as many as 110,000 outlets have permanently closed their doors.
And even as those businesses that have survived begin to reopen, it will not be enough to try to return to “normal”.
Customer habits and preferences have changed forever, and it only those restaurants that are prepared to adapt that will prosper in the future.
Customer trends such as:
are likely permanent and will be the main drivers of business growth.
But what does this mean in practice?
It means you need to use restaurant technology both to deliver a superior customer dining experience and to reduce your costs.
It should go without saying that great food and customer service will remain essential. And in-house diners will always demand a warm and welcoming ambience.
But these things will no longer be enough.
The following technologies, in particular, will be essential.
Third-party ordering and delivery services have boomed during the pandemic and will likely remain important for small businesses.
Many outlets, however, may benefit from developing their own integrated apps, which will allow them to communicate directly with customers.
Contactless payments are becoming increasingly popular with customers of all business types, but particularly so in the restaurant and hospitality sectors where speed is often at a premium.
A contactless system that integrates seamlessly with your POS will therefore be a great asset to your business.
Booking a table time by phone may soon be a thing of the past. A wide range of online apps now allow customers to see at a glance what tables are ad available and when, and to make their reservation with a click.
Ease and convenience for them and a significant saving in staff time for you.
For obvious reasons, customers are now more conscious than ever of the safety of their environment.
Fortunately, rapid strides are now being made in new technologies capable of automatically cleaning both air and services.
Widely displayed QR codes allow customers to access menus, order, and pay contactlessly from their cellphones – no download is required.
Again, a great time-saver and safety feature for both your customers and staff.
Digital boards linked to your POS system provide kitchen staff with immediate notice of orders, tracks delivery times and inventory, and allows for a much more efficient workflow.
New softwares making use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) can dramatically reduce food waste and the amount of staff time spent on inventory management.
While still a considerable investment, the capabilities of robot chefs are advancing so rapidly that models such as Flippa and Moley may soon become “must haves” even for the smallest of outlets.
The bottom line is that while the COVID-19 pandemic has been disastrous for many businesses it has also accelerated the development of many new restaurant technologies that will provide tremendous opportunities for those businesses that are willing to innovate.