As the year concludes, it’s time to reflect on the challenges faced and prepare for what lies ahead. Economic instability looms in 2024, intensifying the financial strain on the restaurant sector. To adapt, brands are turning to technology, no longer just a supporting player but a central force for innovation and survival.
Changing consumer habits emphasize off-premise consumption and diversified revenue streams. This shift fuels innovative dining experiences, powered by cutting-edge technologies—from predictive AI to generative innovations. Modern restaurant operators now have an array of remarkable tech solutions at their disposal.
We’ve compiled a list of state-of-the-art restaurant tech trends to keep you ahead of the curve and help you make smart investments in the coming year.
The tech-savvy nature of customers and the necessity to minimize physical contact in the post-pandemic era has instigated a transformative shift within the restaurant industry, giving rise to the rapidly growing phenomenon of contactless ordering. Contactless ordering (which includes ordering via QR codes, mobile & web apps and kiosk ordering) addresses this notable shift in customer purchasing behaviour. It offers an enhanced customer experience and grants customers greater autonomy in placing orders, expanding beyond the conventional dine-in approach. This way, they are more likely to add more items to their order and increase the average check size than if they placed an order over the phone or in person. Moreover, implementing contactless ordering solutions enables the tracking of customer data for each transaction and facilitates personalized engagement through a restaurant CRM platform. This allows businesses to tailor offers, communications, and updates based on customer preferences and behaviour, ultimately aiming for a customized and expectation-surpassing customer experience.
With a constant demand for convenience and speed, operators in the quick service and fast casual dining sector are recognizing the advantages of employing voice assistants for precise and efficient food ordering. Voice-activated ordering, exemplified by innovations like ordering through Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, or Apple Siri, showcases the potential of technology to reshape the customer experience.
“We anticipate a significant uptick in AI-powered voice and chat ordering in the coming years. Advanced language models make it easier for computers to understand and process customer orders, creating more efficient and convenient dining experiences”, said Marlon Koch, VP of Product, MENU & PAR Platform.
Robots & automation
Restaurant automation involves employing automated or robotic devices to carry out various tasks within a restaurant. These robots serve diverse functions, ranging from meal preparation to delivering food to guests. The integration of robots into restaurant operations holds the potential to significantly enhance restaurant operations.
Many kitchen robots excel in efficiently carrying out simple, repetitive tasks. When properly utilized, they have the capacity to diminish the burden of time-consuming and low-skill tasks in the workplace.
“Anticipate a restaurant revolution with specialized robots dedicated to food preparation and customer service,” said Marlon Koch, VP of Product, MENU & PAR Platform. “These robots, working in tandem with human staff, enhance the dining experience by boosting operational efficiency. Through automating repetitive tasks, they cut labour costs, allowing resources to be redirected to improving food quality and elevating customer experiences. This shift promises quicker, more accurate service, reshaping the dining landscape and enticing customers to return—an evolving trend poised to revolutionize the industry.”
Food Waste Management
Restaurants discard significant amounts of edible food daily, resulting in financial losses and contributing to environmental concerns. To address this, food retail outlets are embracing data-driven and innovative food waste management strategies, incorporating technologies like the Internet of Things (IoT), advanced analytics, AI, robotics, and chemical recycling.
Utilizing machine learning and predictive analytics, restaurants can accurately track inventory and anticipate fluctuating customer demands, optimizing resource utilization and minimizing over-purchasing. Additionally, the deployment of sensors aids in tracking food waste, allowing businesses to identify patterns in wastage.
To control food waste at its source, restaurants can also implement in-house food waste management systems. This involves leveraging advanced plastic recycling systems for packaging food waste, as well as adopting food waste-to-energy (WTE) systems and composting. These comprehensive measures collectively contribute to reducing the carbon footprint associated with restaurant operations.
The Future of Restaurant Technology: AI-driven customer engagement tools
Data has emerged as an invaluable resource, creating a golden opportunity for well-informed decision-making . With the abundance of data captured, restaurants can obtain priceless insights into customer behaviour, preferences, and operational efficiencies. This empowers restaurant brands and managers to make well-informed decisions, streamline operations, and enhance the overall performance of their restaurant. This approach is rooted in creating seamless experiences using AI-driven customer segmentation and optimization tools to enhance customer engagement. Inevitably, the restaurant industry’s future lies in AI, unlocking boundless potential and offering unparalleled opportunities for transformative advancements. By integrating AI into their operations, restaurants can leverage advanced analytics, automated processes, and personalized interactions to elevate the overall dining experience and cultivate lasting customer relationships.
In 2024, making the most of innovative restaurant technology solutions is the only way to truly prosper in this competitive market. Technology is here to help your restaurant not just survive but really thrive in the digital age. PAR MENU has a diverse range of cutting-edge solutions that can assist your restaurant on this digital path.