Technology isn’t likely to be the first thing that comes to mind when it comes to the food industry. But while this remains the case, it doesn’t necessarily mean that tech has no impact in the sector whatsoever.
In fact, advancements in robotics and data processing have proven to be quite helpful in food manufacturing. According to ING Group, this is more than a welcome development, considering that there are now more than 7.5 billion people that need to be fed.
But aside from enhancing efficiency in processing and packaging food products in the manufacturing side of the industry, technology is also changing how restaurateurs serve their guests. From improving food service point-of-sale systems to offering self-service alternatives, below are four ways technology is changing the food service industry:
1. Enhanced Point-of-Sale Flexibility
A point-of-sale system or POS is considered the backbone not only of restaurant and food services but all other businesses involving retail. POS systems offer independent restaurant owners a way to streamline business operations at the point of order using a carefully designed combination of hardware and software.
When implemented the right way, a POS system allows restaurateurs to track all the aspects of their business, including food costs, labor costs, profit margins, and even customer loyalty. The best part is that modern POS systems can now aid almost every type of food service – from food trucks and fast food establishments to high-end restaurants.
Today, there are plenty of variations and innovations developed to make POS systems more flexible. In fact, some of them now allow food service entrepreneurs to adjust to what’s convenient to customers in terms of payment methods.
Based on research from UK-based Deloitte Consulting, customers are more inclined to become patrons in restaurants that have excellent menus, order customization, and flexible payment methods. This is why more people are now looking for speedy casual dining establishments where payment is done at the counter.
Beyond accepting cash, restaurant owners should also consider having PIN-pad terminals that allow secure payment method acceptance, from magstripe to EMV to contactless payments. With mobile support and software that allows various payment methods, fast food restaurants have seen higher sales, better customer conversion rates, and stronger market loyalty.
The best part is that owners can remain on top of other aspects of the operations while minimizing the length of queues and serving more customers.
Fine dining restaurants traditionally take orders and serve checks without the guest needing to leave their tables. To maintain this setup while still hastening the payment process, more restaurants are using new technology to simplify the process.
Instead of going through the usual process of dropping off the guest’s bill, coming back to retrieve payment, dropping off the final receipt, and retrieving the tip, new pay-at-the-table POS systems are now equipped with wireless smart terminals. Others are even using mobile POS terminals where customers can pay securely at their convenience using the payment method of their choice.
With these updates, guests no longer have to wait long or struggle to catch a server’s attention when they’re ready for the check. Plus, it also offers more flexibility in the checkout process while allowing servers to work more efficiently.
2. Hassle-Free Order Taking
If there’s one thing that can dampen a guest’s appetite even before he can order food, it is having to wait a long while to do so. Thankfully, new tech has helped to develop a solution to the problem: app-assisted tableside order-taking.
Aside from payments, order-taking has also been enhanced with the help of new technologies. Instead of walking back and forth to a POS system fixed onto a specific area, servers can now take and input orders on-the-spot using mobile smart devices. This process also reduces the turnaround time between retrieving orders and sending the information to the kitchen, thus making it possible even for fine dining establishments to serve food faster.
3. Fast and Easy Checkout
Long queues are probably more common in food service establishments than in any other retail setting. And like waiting a long time to order, standing in line to check out is also a big no-no when it comes to creating a positive customer experience.
As a solution, forward-thinking companies have decided to embrace self-servicing kiosk technology. Although this isn’t exactly new tech, it has only recently entered the food service space and is currently making waves in the industry.
With the checkout turnaround time reduced, a restaurant can serve more people than they previously could, thereby increasing revenue. Plus, it creates a better customer experience since it allows customers to take control of their orders while avoiding long lines. Some self-serving kiosks also have complete order-to-payment features, which expedites the process even more.
On top of these, kiosks are also programmed to upsell products while ensuring customer privacy. It also gives food service staff more time to offer personalized services to guests. That’s something that cannot possibly be replaced by tech.
4. Effortless Food Delivery
Who hasn’t tried ordering food online? With the emergence of digital wallet software for paying online and e-commerce platforms designed to sell food, consumers now have the luxury to satiate their cravings without much effort while staying within the comfort of their homes.
Aside from not needing to go out and wait in long lines, online food delivery has also made it possible for people to enjoy five-star-quality restaurant food without booking tables weeks in advance. Such an excellent customer experience will surely leave a good impression.
From point-of-sale to delivery, food service businesses have embraced technological advancements to ensure a brighter future for the industry. Take this fact into account when you open a restaurant or any food service establishment, and you should do just fine.
Ahmad Alzaini is the co-founder and CEO of Foodics, a fast-growing foodtech startup. A businessman by nature, Alzaini is an app aficionado, developing businesses in Saudi Arabia within several industries. Today, Foodics has extended to new markets across the MENA region, processing over 1 billion transactions, and offering the latest technology in POS and restaurant management.