During the first half of the year, brands pieced together new operational flows and/or introduced new ordering methods just to survive. Now, digital transformation within the restaurant industry has significantly accelerated in a short period of time.
As brands step back and think more strategically about enabling a convenient and safe guest experience—inside and outside—of the restaurant, there are six underlying areas of technology that help reduce friction points and reshape the overall guest experience.
- Consumer marketing – For many brands that didn’t have a consumer data platform, loyalty and marketing engine in place prior to the pandemic, it’s been difficult to connect with their guests and keep them engaged with their brand. Using first- and third-party data to inform what offers and loyalty experiences you serve to your guests will be critical to maintaining and growing customer loyalty.
- Digital ordering points – Your guests want to order in any way, at any time that is convenient for them. Have a well-designed plan for how you enable them to place orders digitally through a variety of channels that are all directly integrated with your point of sale (POS) system—whether that’s through your own branded digital channels, third-party delivery marketplaces or other non-traditional channels.
- Intelligent digital signage – Whether in the drive-thru, at curbside pickup spots or in your restaurant, intelligent digital signage that contains the ability to recognize your guests and serve up relevant content will become more essential for driving throughput and increasing average check size.
- Kitchen operations – Increasing the number of ordering channels for your restaurant means that your kitchen must have the capacity and the technology to direct and route orders to the right production and expo stations for handling order accuracy and higher volumes of orders placed at any time.
- API-first point of sale, networking & Wi-Fi – If your priorities are to create new experiences and have the flexibility to continuously adapt your operations to industry and market forces, look for technology providers that have an API-first software architecture that enables you to test and deploy new technologies faster and easier with simplified maintenance and control.
- Payments – From mobile wallets to tap to pay capabilities, your guests will expect increased ease of payment both in-store and in the drive-thru. Make sure the payment devices you’re using are enabled for contactless payments for your guests and your employee’s safety—and to increase the speed of transactions.
Ultimately, there are many ways to transform your restaurant to improve your guest experience. From designing areas in your kitchen dedicated to fulfilling off-premise orders to enabling your dine-in guests to order on their devices at the table, there is no one-size-fits-all approach. As you re-evaluate your restaurant design and how to adapt to industry transformation, think holistically about your approach and make decisions that are aligned with both your short- and long-term strategic objectives. That way, you can successfully adjust your operations to adapt to meet the moment, regardless of unforeseen events or industry disruption.