The restaurant industry is constantly evolving and changing. New trends in restaurant technology are always emerging that can help restaurant owners and operators improve their businesses.


In the new normal after two years of pandemic, the food and beverage industry is now looking at technological trends to boost its revenue and profits. From automating workflows to robotics, we have compiled a list of innovations that has the potential to boost the industry operations

Adapting to the new normal

It's 2022 and the world is slowly adjusting to the new normal after two years of being almost at a standstill due to the pandemic. The food and beverage business, which was already bringing in innovations to streamline workflow and ensure smooth daily operations, had to adjust and look at ways to circumvent the lockdown and maintain a steady stream of revenue.

Technology gave restaurateurs a way to work around the pandemic. Now, with social distancing becoming a part of the new normal, many are adopting innovative technologies to stay ahead in the game. The restaurant industry is stepping up its game in 2022 to improve customers' on-site and off-site experiences. Restaurants, be it fast-casual or full-service dining establishment, are exploring and adopting technological trends that are, and will, create a change in the food and beverage sector. We have compiled a list of technological innovations that can help restaurants leap ahead. Take a look-

• Cloud based Point of Sale systems

With a need to streamline workflows, more and more restaurants were already opting for cloud-based point of sale (POS) systems, which are not only user friendly but also able to integrate with other software like payroll and employee scheduling software for seamless functioning of a restaurant.
But in the new normal, and a need to be careful, restaurant owners are now looking to make the system more mobile and user friendly by seeking options that work on all devices from computers and laptops to smartphones and handheld order-taking devices.
They are also switching to a single POS system that can cover the entire restaurant workflow—from front of house functions such as reservations to payments to back of house working like kitchen and inventory management and can also include marketing and administration.
The reason for looking at technology to streamline operations is also to cover the rampant staff shortage in the food and beverage industry. With almost 75% of the businesses having open positions, many are looking at technology to replace and streamline manual operations. Automating processes like reservations, table management and bill payment via a POS system like PlumPOS will not only overcome staff shortage but also help lessen the turnaround time and streamline the workflow.

• Alternate revenue streams

When the nation went into lockdown, many restaurants lost their business and had to look at alternate solutions to maintain the revenue flow. Opting for home delivery and takeaway services proved to be quite successful and the use of technology such as integration of online ordering and third party delivery apps helped.
Many businesses also looked at out of the box options like retail merchandise, meal kits and online classes to supplement their revenue stream. It also gave customers, who missed dining in their favourite restaurants, a chance to experience the cuisine in the comfort of their own homes.
Many businesses branched out to other verticals like retail and groceries and 75% of the establishments, which added services such as provision of meal kits, groceries, subscription and retail goods, plan to continue with the option.
Customers were also receptive to the idea of buying something other than their standard meal options from the restaurants, with 30% purchasing retail merchandise from the restaurants several times.
Hence, options for grocery delivery or ready to cook meal kits and offering classes for cooking customer favourites in their homes are some customer engagement methods that will be around for a while and see growth.

• Contactless solutions

Social distancing during the pandemic lead to the growth of contactless ordering and payment models. But now many establishments are actively implementing the system to offer customers a quick, hassle-free dining experience. Contactless ordering and payment are not just to maintain social distancing, they are also useful in reducing queue times and human errors.
Instead of calling in for reservations, there are many apps that are now offering online services to reserve a table on-the-go. This also helps the restaurant manage seating plans and waitlists. As an added benefit, there is also a wealth of customer information they are able to collect. Now restaurants are leveraging the system to offer advanced bookings for special nights like a fixed price menu tasting.
Many establishments are also opting for ordering through QR codes which can be scanned via smartphones, handheld devices like tablets or self-order kiosks. These state of art kiosks are a great way to draw in tech-savvy customers and also highlight special offers.
Food and beverage establishments are also opting for contactless payments via a smartphone or a touchless device. With new payment technologies gaining momentum, studies show that the market for contactless payment will rise to $6trillion by 2024. Such payment methods are not only quicker, they are also safer and more hygienic.

• Online ordering platforms

During the pandemic, many restaurants had to rely heavily on third party delivery apps for food delivery and customers had to bear the additional cost of the intermediary fees. The global food delivery market is now worth $150 billion, as per a McKinsey report.
Now, with customers still preferring takeaways and food delivery, restaurants are looking to build their own online ordering platforms to reduce reliance on delivery apps and control the end-to-end experience. Data shows 49% of surveyed restaurateurs are, and will, offer delivery through their own platforms. Having a direct order channel also gives customers a more frictionless experience, as restaurants have more control over customer engagement and can help identify bottlenecks and also maximize profits. Many POS systems are now integrating online ordering platforms and offering businesses an all-round system. Such digital proximity enables the restaurants connect better with their customers.
As per studies, around 68% of customers are also willing to order directly from the establishment than from a delivery app. Even third-party delivery apps like DoorDash and UberEats play an important part for those establishments which cannot afford to build their own platforms.

• Not just automation but robotics

As discussed, staff shortage is now a harsh reality and many restaurants are now looking at technological innovations to work around the issue. The industry is seeing many restaurants opting for robots to replace human staff and reduce instances of errors and high turnover. For instance, fast food chain Chick-fil-A is running a test operation for a delivery robot in Santa Monica. McDonald's is testing AI technology in some of its drive-thru locations. There are also restaurants which are testing food prep robots.
Along with contactless solutions, it is now also crucial forrestaurateurs to invest in safe and hygienic kitchens. As per a survey, 36% of surveyed restaurateurs have invested in technological upgrades to their kitchen to streamline and improve back of the house efficiency.
Restaurants are now connecting digital table ordering solutions to kitchen display systems, which will send the order from the table to the kitchen without human interference. The screen will show the orders as per priority and also flag special requests. The digital solution also helps track delivery times and monitor inventory.
Establishments are also automating the process of food preparation to free staff from hours of repetitive work by opting for robochefs which can mimic human movements to stir or mix ingredients or adjust cooking temperatures.

• Customer relations

In today's digital age, consumers turn to the internet to seek information about a variety of subjects —from latest trends in the food market to the best place for a particular cuisine in their area. It is important for a restaurant to remain connected to their patrons not only via social media, but also loyalty programs.
Social media is able to retain and gain a lot of followers for restaurant chains who can leverage it to build relations with the users with activities such as posting cooking videos or giving cooking tips or live interactions with chefs. While social media can help an establishment draw in customers, loyalty programs can help in retaining them and increasing sales and revenue.
Loyalty programs have always been around but, nowadays, food and beverage establishments can gain deeper insights into the consumers' needs and preferences and adapt their strategy to fit the market demand. Using customer relationship management tools is helping businesses gather insights and feedback from customers in real time and also help establishments make them feel valued. Using marketing insights, businesses can create personalized campaigns for customers who, then, help spread the good word about the brand via word of mouth and social media.
Surveys have shown that 90% of restaurateurs have or will implement customer engagement plans throughout 2022 and are focussed on improving customer loyalty programs. 41% of restaurateurs have upgraded their programs. By innovating and upgrading, restaurateurs can improve customers' experiences, be it dining in or ordering out.

• Improved marketing

As discussed above, it is important to be visible to the customers in today's digital age. Therefore, it is important to promote and communicate about your restaurant and its news and updates with your customers on a regular basis.
Traditional methods of marketing can be useful but they are time and revenue consuming. With the growth of digital era, online channels now offer better and more extensive reach and they are more budget-friendly as well. The best way to promote your business is to list it on Google, as it makes it easy for potential customers to locate it and also read what other customers say about it. As a business owner it is important to create a website and social media pages to keep customers updated about the news and deals your restaurant has to offer. Customers also post reviews on online delivering platforms which can help you get their feedback, understand their opinion and even start a conversation. There has also been an increase in opting for SMS and email marketing based on the data gathered from POS system and CRM tools. Nowadays, there are many marketing tools which can help a business create personalized marketing campaigns based on customer database.

Gaining ground

Apart from these innovations, there are some practices and innovations which have been gaining ground in the food and beverage industry. Let us also take a quick look at them-

· Air purification
With restaurants opening up dining in option, there is a need to make diners feel comfortable and safe. Many restaurants are investing in upgrading their sanitization systems with purification technology to guarantee ‘clean air'. The bipolar ionization technology, which purifies indoor spaces by neutralizing contaminants, has already found a growing market. There is also a growing demand for use of ultraviolet light as a method for surface and air sanitization.

· QR codes and online coupons
With the world going contactless, offering QR codes is not just restricted for menus. QR codes are being used to link tech-savvy customers to websites for promotional offers or asking for feedback. There has also been an increase in offering coupon codes which can be used by restaurants and fast-food chains to bring in new customers and also drive repeat business.

· Geolocalization
Many diners are now checking into restaurants via social media on their smartphones. This gives restaurateurs a unique tool to identify frequent customers so that they can create customized promotions or communicate with them. There are also many websites like FullFork which use geolocalization to present users with restaurants around them which have special deals going on.

Benefits of restaurant technology

Technology helps you efficiently organize the restaurant's daily operations and deliver consistent customer service. If, as a business owner, you are wondering how these trends can help you, let us briefly discuss the benefits of using technology in your restaurant.

· Efficiency- By implementing technological upgrades to your restaurant management system, you can streamline operations, which will increase the efficiency of the workflow. With better efficiency, employees will not waste time and effort on tasks which can be automated and they can be utilized for other jobs. There is also less wastage, as you are able to track inventory and slow moving items and order as required.

· Improved customer service- When efficiency improves, the staff, who would do jobs that can be automated, can now be trained for better customer service. You can leverage the benefits offered by technology to monitor items in real time and give users options without ant back and forth.

Your patrons will be satisfied and you have a hassle-free workflow.

· Increased revenue- Innovations like automation lead to optimization which has an impact on expenses and incomes. You can optimize inventory management which will reduce expenses. The customers turn more loyal due to better services, which, in turn, lead to more sales and revenue.

· Employee retention- Use of technology and tools for tasks like employee management and scheduling will create a better and happier workforce. When employees are happy and less stressed at their workplace, there is less chance of them quitting.

· Stability- Use of technologies like smart heating and ventilation systems help you save energy, money and is also environment-friendly. It also gives your restaurant a competitive edge.

In the end

They say change is the only constant and changing with times is a good way to avoid becoming obsolete. Adopting new technologies will not only help your business stay in the game, but leveraging the technology in the right way can help you leap ahead. It is a good idea to consider the benefits of adopting the above-mentioned technological innovations to lead the way in the future.