The restaurant industry in the United States is one of the biggest industries in the country which boasts sales of around $863 billion in 2019. To put things in perspective, this contributes to about 4% of the annual GDP of the US according to the NRA report. Consumer confidence in the industry also remains fairly strong. According to the NRA report, 52% of consumers say that they would rather spend their leisure time visiting a restaurant and having a good experience than spending the same money on a material item.
With the advent of the digital age, the trends in the restaurant industry have also seen a massive shift. We have identified some of the must-have digital trends below:
1. Mobile Ordering
One of the hottest trends in the restaurant industry right now is the concept of digital ordering. Whether it is through mobile, tablets, or table-side devices, this concept has slowly been introduced in the hospitality industry and has proved itself to be extremely consumer-friendly.
Innowi is one such company offering Model M, which enables the merchant to take orders as well as payments on the go. The associate/waiter can simply carry the portable device anywhere. This essentially means that customers can order and pay from the convenience of their tables. Customers no longer have to stand in queues for ordering or bill processing. Moreover, the possibility of a human error in recording the order or processing the bill is completely eliminated owing to the advanced software.
Another related concept is that of table-side ordering. This is essentially a self-checkout method where the customer directly orders and pays through a device mounted on the table. This streamlines the order processing and makes it more efficient both for the customer as well as the restaurant. The concept builds upon the idea of improving the overall dining experience for the customer. This can be in the form of availability of games, music, or internet browsing on the same table-side device.
2. Self-service kiosks
Another breakthrough in the restaurant space is the concept of self-service kiosks. McDonald's, Wendy's, and Taco Bell are just a few examples of restaurants that are riding the wave of this new technology. These kiosks are a significant line buster and provide ease and convenience to the customers in the ordering process. Customers no longer have to wait in lines for the cashiers to process the bills. Self-service kiosks save time and provide ease of access to tech-savvy consumers. It also reduces the time employees consume in processing bills and increases their efficiency that can be utilized in other tasks. These can include processing the order and tending to customer complaints etc.
60% of customers are more likely to visit a place with a self-service kiosk as indicated by one of the surveys conducted by Tillster. The study also shows that the adaptability of these kiosks is expected to be higher among millennials because they are more tech-savvy and usually prefer minimal human interaction. Moreover, the customer can easily customize the order through them.
3. Data-driven sales and marketing campaigns
There was a time when oil was considered the greatest commodity of all time. That is no longer true. The greatest commodity in this day and age is data. Without meaningful data, huge organizations are unlikely to survive. The same is true for the restaurant industry. For you as a restaurateur to flourish, you need valuable customer data to derive insights. This could be in the form of insights into the most-liked dish, the most preferred visit time, improvements in the menu, and ambiance or an insight into the main cost drivers.
Innowi is offering a complete tailor-made restaurant software. This enables the restaurant owner to be able to view meaningful sales reports, perform cost analysis & inventory analysis, vendor management, table management, and tip management, to name a few. The owner simply logs into the dashboard to get a glimpse of where the restaurant stands and what improvements need to be made. Pretty cool, right?!
4. Active social media presence
One of the most effective ways of marketing your restaurant is through marketing campaigns on social media. Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat are three platforms that have completely changed the way people choose restaurants. It is no hidden fact that millennials are more likely to choose a restaurant after going through the social media pages or by getting referrals through friend's reviews on Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat. The scale of your restaurant does not matter when it comes to an active social media presence. This is one of the most potent tools restaurateurs can use to increase engagement as well to create targeted marketing campaigns.
Thus, based on the above discussion, it is essential for you as a restaurant owner to keep a close eye on the evolving industry trends. Since we are living in the digital age, a major portion of the R&D should be focused on technological innovation; otherwise, there is a high chance of you becoming redundant and obsolete.
Author: Shazra Irfan