18 Technology Trends in Restaurants

Updated December 2, 2022

If you run a restaurant, you may consider incorporating technical systems and devices into your operations. Today's technology can make processes more efficient, increase customer base, reduce costs and improve customer satisfaction. Before you integrate technology into your restaurant, it's important to understand the various restaurant technologies available and which ones might benefit the unique needs of your business. In this article, we discuss the benefits of incorporating technology into a restaurant and detail 18 different trends in restaurant technology.

Related: What Are Restaurant Operations? (With Components and Tips)

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Why incorporate technology into your restaurant?

Implementing technology into a restaurant can have a range of advantages, including:

  • Optimize efficiency: The primary goal of most restaurant tech is to make your restaurant more efficient. Restaurant technology can help you save time and provide quality service to your customers at a faster rate.

  • Appeal to a broader base of customers: Restaurant technology can often help restaurants connect with both customers who want to eat on-site and those who would rather have delivery or pickup. The ability to provide both types of restaurant services to your customers can broaden your audience base.

  • Help customers feel safe: Some restaurant tech is designed to keep both customers and restaurant staff healthy. Implementing these safety technologies can help you build trusting and longer-lasting relationships with your customers.

  • Spend more time on other tasks: Using restaurant tech gives your staff members more time to spend on tasks that are more vital or complex. For example, if your restaurant tech helps reduce your order wait time, then employees have more time for positive interactions with your customers.

  • Lower operational costs: Although restaurant technology can sometimes have high costs upfront, it typically helps restaurants reduce their long-term operational expenses.

  • Increase customer satisfaction: Many customers appreciate the convenience offered by restaurant technologies. Adding restaurant tech to your business may boost your customer satisfaction ratings.

Related: How To Create and Implement Restaurant Service Standards

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18 trends for technology in restaurants

Following are 18 trends for technology in restaurants that you may want to incorporate into your business:

1. Contactless payment methods

Contactless payment methods allow customers to pay for their orders through digital tools or apps, such as a smartphone, smartwatch, smartcard or other digital transfer of funds. Contactless payment methods help minimize the use of cash, checks and credit cards. Some customers prefer these contactless methods compared to traditional ones because of their convenience.

2. Online booking system

An online booking system lets customers create, reschedule or update their reservations for your restaurant through your website or app. Online booking systems can help reduce the number of customers waiting in your lobby for a table or the time they spend waiting.

Consider adding a feature that lets customers view the layout of your restaurant and choose their specific table when booking. Some customers may prefer sitting in designated areas in your restaurant, such as closer to the bar or restroom.

3. Virtual restaurant

A virtual restaurant is a restaurant that only exists through a delivery or takeout system. Also referred to as ghost kitchens, virtual restaurants only provide orders to customers through delivery or pickup rather than offering on-site dining. You can run one or more virtual restaurants from the kitchen of a traditional restaurant that you already manage. Running a virtual restaurant can give you the ability to serve a broader range of customers while reducing your operational costs.

Read more: Ghost Kitchens: What They Are and How To Start One

4. Loyalty program

Create a loyalty program run on digital technologies. Traditional loyalty programs typically involve giving customers a unique ID through a physical card that they swipe or receive a stamp on when they make purchases at your restaurant. A digital loyalty program offers the same advantages as a traditional one but uses technology rather than a physical card to record a customer's purchases and rewards.

Many digital loyalty programs link a customer's identity to their phone number, credit card or technology, like smartwatches. This lack of a physical card can make it easier for customers to earn more loyalty points with every purchase from your restaurant.

5. Branded mobile app

Many restaurants use third-party applications to help customers perform tasks such as making reservations, placing delivery orders or contacting a restaurant with questions. You can also design your own branded mobile app specific to your restaurant location or chain. Managing customer interactions through your internal mobile application gives you greater control over various processes, like online ordering and booking. You can also minimize the amount of money you pay to third-party vendors, such as for delivery services.

6. Tabletop tablet

Tabletop tablets are devices you place on the tables doe all your in-person dining customers. Tabletop tablets can give customers the ability to place their orders or make payments through the tablet, reducing the need for a server to help them. You can also add software to tabletop tablets that let them perform a range of other functions, such as providing games, asking for customers to fill out feedback forms or displaying various offerings from your restaurant. A tabletop tablet may reduce your personnel costs and optimize the efficiency of your in-person dining services.

Related: 10 Restaurant KPIs and Why They Are Important To Track

7. Touch-screen point-of-sale devices

Touch-screen point-of-sale (POS) devices allow servers to more efficiently and accurately record their customer's orders. With a touch-screen POS terminal, servers can tap the exact items that a customer orders on the screen and have that information directly communicated to the kitchen.

You can also create self-service kiosks from touch-screen POS devices. Self-service kiosks are popular options at fast-food establishments, cafes and other casual dining environments because they reduce the number of cashiers necessary at the front of your store.

8. QR codes for menus

QR codes are unique icons that a customer can scan with their phone or other smart device and then instantly connect with a specific website or app. Many restaurants now offer customers the ability to view their menu offerings by scanning a QR code. QR codes reduce the cost of printing and maintaining paper or laminated menus. They may also help customers feel more comfortable dining at your restaurant.

Related: How To Manage Restaurant Staff and Create Effective Teams

9. Digital kitchen display

A digital kitchen display helps your kitchen staff keep track of all their current orders. You can use POS systems to have new customer orders instantly appear on the digital kitchen display and disappear only once staff complete the order. Digital kitchen displays can minimize the need for ongoing customer orders printed on slips of paper and help your food preparation procedures become more efficient.

10. VR onboarding

Some restaurants use virtual reality (VR) onboarding systems to help train their new employees. While some aspects of training at your restaurant may require staff to be in person, it can make your training process more efficient to conduct some of it in a virtual environment. VR technology can provide your new hires with simulations of their job duties in a more cost-effective environment. For example, you can use VR onboarding to help restaurant staff prepare for tasks such as using POS systems or safely preparing food.

11. Website

Developing and maintaining your website can help customers find out all the details about your restaurant from a central location. Your restaurant website can include information such as your:

  • Locations

  • Operating hours

  • Menu offerings

  • Special events

A website can also be a great place to link to your other features, like your delivery services or online booking system. If you have social media pages or reviews on third-party websites, you can link to those from your website too.

12. Online ordering system

Add an online ordering system for food delivery or pickup to your website or mobile app. Many customers prefer to place their delivery or pickup orders online rather than over the phone. One great feature to add to an online ordering system is a progress bar. This tool gives customers a visual representation of how close their order is to being ready for pickup or delivery.

If you prefer not to maintain your own online ordering system, you can also partner with third-party vendors. A third-party vendor can either exclusively handle your online ordering operations or provide you with their existing delivery services.

13. Automated inventory management

Automated inventory management software can handle all aspects of your restaurant inventory on its own. An automated inventory management program can perform functions such as tracking your stock levels, anticipating how much you need of different items for your next order and placing those orders automatically. This type of software can help you reduce food waste and increase your efficiency.

Related: 25 Restaurant Marketing Strategies for Increasing Sales

14. Free Wi-Fi

Consider offering on-site customers free Wi-Fi. Customers who dine on a restaurant's premises often appreciate the ability to minimize their smartphone data usage by connecting to Wi-Fi instead. To limit your Wi-Fi usage to only your customers, consider using a password to protect your network and printing that password on your menus or signs in your store.

15. Handheld POS devices

Handheld POS devices are technology tools that servers can carry with them to each of their tables. A handheld POS device is typically more accurate and efficient than servers recording orders on a notepad or remembering the order until they can tell the kitchen staff in person. If you integrate POS technology throughout your entire restaurant, a server's handheld POS device can automatically send customer orders to the kitchen when a server touches a button.

16. Scheduling software

Scheduling software can help you easily manage and update the shift schedules of both individual employees and the entire team. Many restaurants allow their employees to work different shifts each week or month. This system can become less complicated and easier to handle with software that automatically generates a schedule as needed based on factors such as regular availability, requested time off and peak hours.

Related: 10 Goals for Restaurant Managers (With Tips)

17. Air purification system

Think about installing an air purification system within your indoor dining spaces. An air purification system can help circulate the air and keep both your staff and customers healthy. Air purification systems might operate through a range of methods, including ultraviolet light, ions or activated carbon.

18. POS cash drawer

Consider connecting your cash drawer to a POS system. Some restaurants want the ability to offer their customers both contactless payment methods and traditional processes like cash. When you integrate your cash drawer into your POS system, your cash drawer can then automatically record transactions and update orders that require preparation by your kitchen staff.

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