Guest post from Dining Alliance
The restaurant industry is home to some of the most forward-thinking technology on the market. From AI to drone delivery to robotic chefs, technology is not only becoming a necessary part of being a restaurant but an expected one. Restaurant operators should be comfortable adding technology into every aspect of their businesses, from back-of-the-house operations to supply chain management.
At Dining Alliance, we work hard to bring our members the latest restaurant technology. We know that the right technology investments can make or break a restaurant, especially with profit margins being so thin. Below are a few of the top types of new technology we see that are here to stay in the restaurant industry—and that restaurants should be implementing into their food service business.
Online ordering is not just for consumers anymore. Online ordering platforms for restaurant operators give easy access to a variety of distributors who can help them get the products they regularly order at the best prices. FoodBAM is one such online ordering platform for restaurant operators. Christina Donahue, president of Dining Alliance says, “It’s a single online portal that allows operators to compare prices for items across multiple distributors and allows them to order and keep track of inventory in one place.” (Restaurant C-Suite)
FoodBAM’s newest feature is modernizing what it means to execute the grueling task of recipe costing. FoodBAM already tracks up-to-date data on what all of your ingredients cost. Just plug your recipes into the recipe costing tool and the pricing automatically produces an all-in recipe cost that includes your distributors’ prices, price per meal, net profit, waste, labor, and more. For the first time, you can actually set and forget your recipe costing. As prices change in the marketplace, this app will capture and automatically update your recipe costs.
While it may seem like the stuff of the far-reaching future, AI (artificial intelligence) technology is here and present in the restaurant industry—but it may not be how you think. Consider Predictive Ordering. Several restaurant inventory management software companies use the data they compile from operators’ POS systems and ordering guides, to better manage their inventory and keep them up to stock on items they buy regularly, what’s running low, and viable product replacements might be available.
AI is also making its way to operators through products like Alexa and Google home. According to FoodNewsFeed.com, “SevenRooms recently announced a planned integration to bring voice-enabled tools to the in-service experience. Think, “Hey Alexa, where are my VIP guests sitting tonight?” or “Hey Alexa, do any of my tables have a peanut allergy?” The applications of voice technology are far-reaching, helping restaurant staff to communicate more easily, keep track of guests more seamlessly and as a result, provide a better experience to all diners.”
More Restaurant Automation
Delivery. POS systems (POS). Tableside ordering devices. Restaurant automation is taking hold of the diner experience as well as changing the landscape for restaurant operators. Whether you’re using guest retention platforms like TableUp that can manage your reservations and then automate continued guest engagement and marketing or utilizing tableside devices to automate the server experience, this type of technology impacts your guest experiences and labor costs.
According to TableUp, “Convenience is often a deciding factor when it comes to dining decisions. Offering online ordering for takeout and mobile ordering at the table are ways that restaurants can get and keep guests’ attention.”
Restaurants like Spyce even use fully automated robots to make bowls to order for consumers. According to Restaurant Business, “Deploying automated solutions for back-of-house tasks that are physically difficult or hazardous can also take some of the burdens off the human staff, thereby making kitchen jobs more appealing to workers, which could potentially help in labor retention and thus reduce costs associated with onboarding and training.”
And with labor retention staying as one of the top worries of operators, this type of automation seems more and more beneficial.
Server Training and Sales Incentives
Smart operators can make use of the technology tools that are already in their employees’ pockets to drive employee engagement, retention, and, ultimately, sales. Incentive platforms like Tipzyy allow managers to set up games and contests for their bar and wait staff in order to incentivize sales of specific drinks and menu items.
The software comes complete with easy educational components to teach servers about different beers, wines, and cocktails, and contest modules to help operators sell more of their most profitable menu items. Tipzyy uses mobile technology to make it easy for operators to educate servers and incentivize their performance at every shift. Restaurants benefit from increased sales, better customer experience, and a boost to employee engagement and staff retention.
Interested in learning more about restaurant technologies that could benefit your business? Connect with Dining Alliance today to learn more about restaurant trends, innovative technology, and more.
Contactless Payment and Ordering
Contactless ordering systems have become popular in restaurants. Customers can use their smartphones to browse menus via QR codes, place orders, and pay for their meals without the need for physical menus. These systems can streamline order placing and payment, removing the need for the customer to wait for the staff to take their order or bring the check. Instead, the customer can do everything on their preferred timeline.
These systems became popular during the pandemic, but have largely remained (especially at more casual environments like cafes or fast casual establishments), due to the convenience they offer customers. Contactless ordering systems increase customer loyalty and simplify staff workflows.
Virtual and Ghost Kitchens
The rise of food delivery apps, like Doordash and Uber Eats, has led to the emergence of virtual kitchens, also known as ghost kitchens. These are kitchen-only operations that focus on preparing food for delivery, without a traditional dine-in experience. Virtual kitchens enable restaurants to expand their reach, experiment with new concepts, or even reduce overhead costs associated with physical spaces. In fact, some restaurants now operate as delivery-only out of a ghost kitchen.
Ghost kitchens can be permanent establishments that your business operates directly or you can work with a local ghost kitchen serving multiple different businesses. That second option is excellent for restaurants looking to prove there’s demand in a new location or for a new concept or delivery services. You can work with a ghost kitchen for a limited time and then establish your own ghost kitchen or restaurant front.
RFID Inventory Management
RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) technology is changing the inventory management game for many restaurants, cutting down on food waste and costs.
With RFID technology, each item in the restaurant’s inventory is tagged with a small electronic device that contains a unique identifier called the RFID tag. The tag can be attached to packaging, containers, or even individual products.
The restaurant is then equipped with RFID sensors placed throughout the storage areas and kitchen. These sensors detect and communicate with the RFID tags within their range.
With this system in place, RFID tags are automatically scanned and updated in real-time by the sensors as inventory items are moved, used, or restocked. This provides the restaurant with an accurate and current inventory count without any human labor involved—a real dream for restaurant management.
Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) Experiences
Believe it or not, augmented and virtual reality technologies are being increasingly adopted by restaurants to enhance the dining experience and engage customers in unexpected ways. For instance, AR can be used to overlay digital information on physical menus or table settings, providing interactive and immersive experiences. VR, on the other hand, can transport diners to virtual environments, enabling them to explore different settings or witness food preparation processes.
AR and VR can also be used for marketing purposes – enabling customers to virtually tour restaurants, view virtual menus, or participate in virtual cooking classes from home. These technologies have the potential to captivate customers, generate buzz, and differentiate restaurants in a competitive market.
It’s worth noting that AR and VR experiences are currently in their infancy and quite pricey for both restaurants and consumers to adopt. As a result, they’re currently best suited for restaurants offering very high-end or innovative experiences generally.
Get A Jump Start On Top Restaurant Technology Trends
Interested in learning more about restaurant tech trends that could benefit your business? Restaurant businesses can connect with Dining Alliance today to learn more about restaurant trends, technology solutions and providers, and more.Learn More