The effects of Covid-19 on the restaurant industry are numerous, from mass layoffs to the rise of virtual and ghost kitchens. To keep up with the rapidly changing restaurant innovation, restaurant tech has made big strides, remarkable in an industry that's slower than others to adopt change and automation. Since Covid, restaurants have implemented old and new forms of automation to increase their sales without adding more labor costs.
At Cuboh, our mission is to help our restaurant partners easily embrace changes in restaurant tech to develop better customer service, whether it's through on-premise dining or in a virtual kitchen or ghost kitchen.
Advances in restaurant technology are way beyond simply helping the virtual kitchen trend take off. There are some key problems the restaurant industry as a whole experiences which innovative restaurant tech can solve.
Your primary customer base – Millennials and Gen Z – have been at the forefront of embracing advances in technology, and this behavior, plus the restaurant closures from Covid, has spiked an increase in the virtual kitchen trend and online ordering from them. In fact, according to the National Restaurant Association's 2019 State of the Restaurant Industry, a majority of customers want restaurants to add technology to improve their experience, from self-serve kiosks to wearable technology for servers and an ease of online ordering.
The current trend in quick-serve and midscale casual dining is for operators to add more DIY technology, a move that can both satisfy millennials who prefer to engage with technology versus staff, and reduce the need for pre-covid staffing, important for restaurateurs across the country who are experiencing staffing shortages as places reopen.
Adding self-serve kiosks or tablets on the tables for dine-in restaurants can help reduce customer frustration and friction, including waiting in line to place an order, or ordering another drink from the bar. Self-serve technology through proprietary apps can also allow customers to skip lines and order through the app, paying online and simply having orders delivered to their table, or pick them up from the takeout stand when they're ready.
There can also be an alternative technology for customers who wish to skip downloading a special app or entering their personal information. For example, Ready, an app-less restaurant payment technology, allows customers to view menus, order online, and use the camera on their smartphone to pay online. This can be seamlessly integrated with your existing POS technology, or with your restaurant SaaS interface. Adding these to anything from counter service to ghost kitchens gives customers flexibility and security when dining.
With minimum wage rising and a staffing shortage on all fronts, restaurant operators are seeking technological advances to both fill positions and keep their bottom line healthy. In many cases, automation of common tasks can reduce the need for workers; other types can help workers improve their efficiency at work. However, before incorporating tech into your restaurant practice, take a minute to determine where and how it can be most efficient.
Will the addition of technology improve the diner experience? If the ordering technology will make it more frustrating for customers, or if you're asking for additional data beyond their order any payment, then many diners will opt for a different restaurant. Second, how will your robotics or technology streamline the workflow and assist your human workforce in their jobs? A professional assessment can give you insight into the right technology for your needs.
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Transformation tableside includes adding tablets to the table for ordering and payment, which 14% of restaurants currently offer, and an additional 30% plan to add shortly, according to HT's 2019 Customer Engagement Technology Study. Mobile technology service can help reduce some of the demands on over-extended waitstaff, while ensuring that customers can order as needed and conveniently pay, securely, when they're ready to leave.
Thus far, 8% of restaurants currently use robotics and a further 20% are considering their options, according to HT's. Robotic units that are self-contained, small, and temperature-controlled can be placed in hospitals, universities, airports, and office buildings, and are stocked from nearby ghost kitchens and brick-and-mortar locations. Using Cloud-based technology, restaurant suppliers can check inventory and sales, and see what's been selling and what may be close to expiring, thus giving customers healthier, fresh choices.
Robotics can also be used for food prep, from sushi rolls to slicing vegetables, creating consistent results and reducing the need for people to complete repetitive tasks.
Incorporating technology can help reduce your labor overhead and enhance your customer experience, plus give you valuable insight into your product usage and labor. When you incorporate Software as a Service, leased technology that allows owners to eliminate the expensive purchasing and upkeep on a POS system while enjoying leading-edge technology and convenience that seamlessly integrates with just about any type of POS system.