The restaurant industry has come a long way from the days of every order being handwritten on paper. From point-of-sale systems to tabletop ordering to apps, dining has gone very high tech, influenced heavily by customer preferences for technology. This boom has accelerated in the last 10 years.
In the last decade, technology to connect diners and restaurants has surged. Restaurants can now expand their offerings with delivery, except they do not have to hire drivers—they simply contract with companies like GrubHub that specialize in delivery.
Grubhub, looking to connect diners and restaurants, recently acquired LevelUp. The LevelUp platform is a mobile ordering and payment platform that also allows consumers to receive rewards and discounts for purchases. No more weekly coupons to print out—software makes that connection for customers.
Both of these companies offer software, which illustrates how much the industry depends on it to operate but also how it uses it to engage diners. Another popular software is Toast, which was designed to control basically everything a restaurant needs—POS, front of house, back of house, and guest facing. Toast does all this, and it lets restaurants monitor a variety of things, creating lots of data that may hold great insights. With these reporting features, restaurants can learn a lot about efficiency, costs, and buyer behavior. They can then use this to optimize their location.
There is not really any area of a restaurant that does not benefit from technology. Self-serve ordering either at a kiosk or at the table is becoming more popular, with some restaurants transitioning to complete self-serve, like the Shake Shack in Astor Place in New York City. QSR Magazine featured this location as what the future could be for quick serve. In the article, Shake Shack CEO Zach Hoff said of why they went automated, “We wanted to make sure we’re building a space that had the ability to provide food for a number of different digital ways somebody could order.”
This indicates that technology and the consumer’s preferences are shaping restaurants of the future. For any restaurant, having everything connected matters. Not only because it is more efficient and offers access to valuable data, but because it fits the expectations of the diner, which is, of course, what every restaurant wants.