Last year, the foodservice industry saw some amazing innovations, from restaurants sans waiters to the rising popularity of meal kits. As consumers’ tastes change more rapidly than ever, restaurateurs are struggling to find streamlined solutions that can keep them engaged, and keep profits on the rise. One way restaurants have found to be most effective is technology. This article from CAKE will discuss how restaurants should use technology to create and maintain a loyal customer base.

Order of Operations

It’s not just about technology, it’s about compatible technology. Ninety-one percent of restaurant operators agree that compatible technology is crucial for the success of their business. Restaurants are taking technology to the next level by integrating the systems that track inventory, take reservations, sell menu items, and manage employees. When all of a restaurant’s data is stored within compatible technology, it’s easy to cross-reference important information. For instance, restaurants could easily learn the answers to questions such as: Do your sales always go up when Sandra is behind the bar? Are certain menu items more popular on different days of the week? Which is more profitable: a busy dine-in night or a busy night of delivery?

For restaurants planning to integrate technology solutions, consider starting with a cloud-based point of sale. These solutions can deliver 2.1 times the ROI of traditional on-site systems, such as cash registers. With the proper technology, restaurateurs can keep an eye on operations from literally anywhere with an internet connection. Knowledge is power, and with the proper technology, restaurants have the power to boost their bottom line during every shift.

No Waiting Online

Online ordering (OLO) is more and more important to consumers. Especially at this time of year, when walking or even driving to a restaurant can be unbearably cold in some regions, hungry customers are excited about getting their favorite delicious foods delivered right to their door. Nearly 2/3 of fast casual customers plan to order online in 2018. This should be especially important to restaurant operators because online ordering increases the average ticket size 26% over traditional to-go orders.

OLO is one kind of business that you can only capture with the use of technology. For guests who don’t have the time to call in their order, or just don’t like talking on the phone, the only way to reach them is through either the restaurant’s website or a third-party online ordering service. Guests also like ordering online because it gives them more control over what they’re getting. They don’t need to worry that a host misheard their order or that the call will drop before they confirm their address. This method of connecting with customers also has the potential to reduce overhead. Restaurants won’t need to refill their drinks, wash their dishes, or clean up their table after the meal. Best of all, restaurants can easily collect email addresses for a mailing list, to re-connect with customers in the future.

Eyes on the Prize

As we look to the future – not just 2018, but also the years to come – it’s safe to assume that consumer use of technology will continue to increase. From smartphones to iPads to self-driving cars, technological innovations are becoming a larger and larger part of the average consumer’s daily life. To keep up with customers’ rapidly changing expectations – which include more and more technology – it’s important for restaurant operators to start now. Get acquainted with the changes that are sweeping the restaurant tech industry, and you’ll be better prepared to choose between options that will be on the market 5 or 10 years from now.

A restaurant owner’s choice to embrace technology can make or break their business. With so many exciting, customer-facing tech options out there, it’s important for restaurants to keep up with the latest trends. From Flippy the burger-flipping robot to self-driving pizza delivery robots, smart food – and smart foodservice – are here to stay. How will your restaurant compete with these exciting new concepts? It’s worth considering tech options out there, and find ways to implement the software that keeps your customers happy and your ROI on the rise.