Technology is transforming the food service industry

How restaurants are turning to new technology to stay ahead of the competition.
1 February 2019

How techy is your favorite restaurant? Source: Shutterstock

In the digital age, enterprises that fail to adopt innovative technologies are at significant at risk of falling behind their competitors, and no industry is exempt from this notion.

Digital solutions are transforming the way businesses are being conducted across all sector, even in the ones that are traditionally reliant on the human workforce.

One such industry that is currently undergoing a revolutionary transformation at the moment is the restaurant industry.

On top of streamlining ordering, rostering and stocking processes, AI-powered customer-facing tech advancements have made great strides in recent years, which could potentially boost sales and further enhance customer experiences.

Here are some examples of how digital innovations are transforming the way food is served.

# 1 | Enhanced voice ordering function

Voice recognition and interaction technology have come a long way since its inception, and some vendors are already integrating virtual assistant based ordering functions to their services.

With the help of AI, restaurants can now rely on automated processes to handle voice orders from mobile apps, kiosks, drive-thru, and others, whereby a customer could walk up to a premise and start placing an order without any point person to get the order through.

A similar system can be put in place at the drive-thru and on the phones as well, to increase efficiency and speed up the order fulfillment, something that could be extremely handy during peak hours.

# 2 | Personalized service, at a kiosk

One of the biggest appeals of a brick and mortar restaurant or cafe is the customized service whereby a server may know a regular customer’s tastes and preferences and customize the order accordingly.

However, these personalized treatments come at the cost of efficiency and speed. To reduce the lines and wait time while simultaneously offering a customized service to consumers, some restaurants have deployed a self-ordering system that features a facial recognition technology.

An AI-powered platform makes suggestions based on a customer’s previous orders that are stored in the system that is linked to the patron’s facial geometry.

# 3 | Optimized rostering, inventory and purchasing

Scheduling an optimal level of staffing and maintaining an adequately stocked kitchen is always a significant challenge to any restaurant operator.

AI-powered integrated restaurant management platforms take the guesswork out of the equation. It can forecast labor demands, track and order products based on sales figures, determine supply levels in real-time, account for the seasonal delay and interruptions in the supply chain, and much more.

When resources are allocated based on actual demand data instead of hunches, the benefits will be apparent in the bottom line.

# 4 | Valuable insights

Across all industries, data is becoming the most valuable asset a business can own, and the restaurant industry is no different. More and more operators are seeking to leverage their data strategically to shift more goods and services to maximize profit.

Modern restaurant management platform vendors have access to data that enables them to derive valuable insights, in regards to customers’ dining patterns, seasonal preference, and other geographic-specific trends.

These insights could then be used to predict the volume of goods to be stocked up, schedule a new menu item launch, plan a store expansion and staffing, set competitive pricing, among other things.

# 5 | More self-served

More and more reports are emerging, lending credibility to the notion that self-order systems, be it at a kiosk or via a tablet at the table, yields more orders on average.

Restaurant patrons are increasingly enjoying taking their own time, studying the electronic menu, most often accompanied by an image of the item, ingredients, and nutritional information.

The digital self-serve method is especially useful in high volume environments as they help reduce the repetitive workload of servers and allow customers to dine at their own pace.

In a nutshell, digital technology has the potential to rapidly transform the restaurant industry by completely shifting the way it operates, while taking customer experience to a new high.

However, to ensure a successful implementation of a technology, the initiatives should always be customer-centric and focus on enhancing guests’ experience, or else a restaurant could simply end up being a massive vending machine.

This article originally appeared on Techwire Asia.