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Restaurant Technology: 6 Ways To Optimize Your Restaurant for the Future

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the world has seen just how important technology is. Specifically in the hospitality industry, technology is what allowed many restaurants to stay open during one of the most challenging moments in modern history.

Even now as restrictions are relaxing, the technological advancements being used by restaurants are here to stay. This is because diners now recognize how these tools improve their dining experiences, and restaurant owners, operators, and employees recognize the benefits of leaving some tasks to technology!

In this article, we’ll cover six ways you can utilize technology in your restaurant to help secure your business’s future success.

1) Install Self-Ordering Kiosks

Self-ordering kiosk technology allows customers to order by themselves without the help of a restaurant team member. Self-ordering kiosks are standalone machines, placed either on a table or on the floor, where guests can place their orders and pay for their meals. This technology really took off during the pandemic because it eliminated the need for face-to-face interaction with staff members. In fact, according to Statista, the interactive kiosk market is expected to grow to $45.32 billion by 2028, from $28.34 billion in 2021. Even more, there are many options out there that can integrate with your current technology, like point-of-sale (POS) systems.

Regardless of the size of your restaurant, a self-ordering kiosk can help streamline your business and free up your employees to handle other, more complicated tasks. Learn more about INFI’s self-ordering kiosks and schedule a demo.

Pros of This Technology

  • Enhances order accuracy

  • Saves money on labor costs

  • Can help decrease wait times

Cons of This Technology

  • High up-front cost

  • Equipment malfunctions

  • Lack of human connection

2) Build an Online Ordering System and Utilize Delivery Apps

Online digital ordering and delivery services also became a huge saving grace for many restaurants in the early days of the COVID-19 outbreak. In the U.S., the food delivery market more than doubled during the beginning of the pandemic, according to research by McKinsey & Company.

To make delivery a reality for restaurants, many had to build an online ordering system and in some cases, utilize delivery apps. There are certainly pros and cons of using outside delivery apps, which we’ll discuss in greater detail below. However, creating an online ordering system can have tremendous benefits, including how well your restaurant functions and your customer satisfaction level.

Pros of This Technology

  • Higher transaction values for online or app-based orders

  • Better support for customer loyalty programs through online ordering

  • More convenient guest experience

Cons of This Technology

  • High service fees from third-party delivery apps (an average of 15% to 30%, according to CNBC)

  • Lost income if you are unable to offer your full menu via delivery (e.g., alcoholic beverages that patrons must show identification for)

  • Food presentation and quality suffers (although this varies depending on how carefully the food is delivered and how long it has been sitting)

3) Integrate Contactless Payments

Contactless payment was popular pre-pandemic, but since the pandemic began, it’s become an expectation. This includes methods like a QR code that guests can scan at their table to pay via an online portal, or simply waving their phone or credit card over a handheld contactless card reader. This kind of technology is much faster than traditional methods, as well as more secure. Even more, contactless payment typically gives guests the option to receive a copy of their receipt via email, making this a more eco-friendly option for your restaurant.

Pros of This Technology

  • Easier and quicker than traditional payment methods for customers and employees

  • Pandemic-friendly, as there’s no exchange of cash or cards by hand

  • Can better support your loyalty program

Cons of This Technology

  • Requires investments of time and money to get up and running

  • Potential security concerns from some customers unfamiliar with the method

4) Utilize Digital Signage

Adopting digital signage has become increasingly popular in the restaurant industry over the past several years, and for good reason. This is yet another way you can ensure your restaurant thrives in our tech-centric society. There are so many ways you can utilize digital signage, from displaying real-time menus, discounts, and deals, to adding appealing images of new food or dessert items. You can even use digital signage to promote your restaurant's social media feeds. Learn more about the benefits of digital signage.

Pros of This Technology

  • Allows restaurant owners to easily update the menu and add restaurant announcements

  • Highlights promotions to support upsells

  • Saves money in the long-term

Cons of This Technology

  • Potential high up-front costs

  • Ongoing maintenance can interfere with business

5) Use an Automated Inventory Management Tool

Automating your restaurant's inventory can be a huge time-saver and ensure the efficiency of your restaurant’s kitchen and back-of-house operations. With an automated inventory management tool, you’ll never have to manually count each jar of ketchup again.

Leaning on automation technology to keep track of your inventory can also help you stay on top of when you need to order certain items, such as important menu item ingredients or take-out utensils. From an environmental perspective, utilizing this type of artificial intelligence can help ensure you’re not ordering more ingredients than your restaurant needs, thus reducing food waste.

Equally as important, automated inventory technology can also help restaurateurs more easily manage multiple fast casual restaurants.

Pros of This Technology

  • Frees up staff’s time to handle more complex tasks

  • Ensures you’re never out of essential ingredients

  • Helps your business save money in the long-term by reducing food waste

Cons of This Technology

  • Time-consuming and expensive to set up

  • Technology has the potential to malfunction or crash

  • Hacking is a concern with anything operating on a network

6) Build a Custom Mobile App for Easy Ordering & Reservations

If you’ve been using third-party technology for a while or just want to have complete control over how your restaurant operates online, building a custom mobile app may be the way to go. Having a mobile app for your restaurant can help your business with everything from online orders and scheduling reservations to brand recognition and branding consistency. Additionally, if you have your own app, your restaurant business will cash in 100% of the profits rather than shaving off third-party fees.

Lastly, creating a mobile app can allow for so many more customizations specific to your restaurant that may not be possible with third-party applications like DoorDash and UberEats. You may want to be able to send push notifications when a diner's reservation is coming up, or add an interactive map on the app for driving directions and parking information for your restaurant. All of this is possible when you build a custom mobile app!

Pros of This Technology

  • Customization that completely aligns with your goals as a restaurant operator

  • Helps boost customer experience with mobile ordering and mobile payments

  • Offers complete control over customer data

Cons of This Technology

  • High upfront costs associated with creating a mobile app from scratch

  • Maintenance and troubleshooting responsibility lies with you

Enhance Your Restaurant With INFI

Technology is the future of hospitality. While it can sometimes be intimidating to navigate all of the new technology the food service industry has to offer, it opens the door to a whole new realm of possibilities in terms of success for your restaurant. Whether you’re just dipping your toes into tech for your restaurant or you’re a seasoned industry veteran, we suggest checking out INFI’s standalone self-ordering kiosk. Our kiosk solutions can help keep customers satisfied and your business growing — schedule a demo today.

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