The use of new technology in restaurants is inevitable. Yesterday, NPR published a story about a fully-automated restaurant opening in San Francisco. The quick-service eatery, Eatsa, specializes in quinoa (why?) and tricking hungry patrons into thinking they accidentally stumbled into an Apple store instead of a restaurant.
This is certainly the far-end of the restaurant tech spectrum. It may be the height for some, or the nadir for others. Uncorkd believes that restaurants should embrace technology for many different reasons. Here’s 5 of them.
1. Customers are ready for technology to play a bigger role in dining out
A recent consumer trends report from OpenTable, found that out of 6,000 adults surveyed across the United States, 76% said, “they believed technology had the potential to play a “much bigger” or “somewhat bigger” role at limited-service restaurants.” This is a great indicator on where restaurants and their relationship with technology should improve and one that restaurants shouldn’t ignore. Tech already has found a way to improve peoples dining experience. Just look at the popularity of OpenTable itself as a reservation service. It’s grown to become an international service, one that seats over 15 million diners a month. But there is certainly room for growth.
2. Mobile apps can speed up service
Quick-service and fast food restaurants are utilizing mobile apps in a variety of ways. One way that’s making headlines this year is the launching of mobile ordering apps, where a customer can place an order and pay for it before they step foot in the store. Big chain companies like Starbucks and the mighty Golden Arches of McDonald’s are embracing mobile ordering apps that act like a golden ticket, getting you straight to the front of the line and out the door as quickly as possible.
3. Customers want to be informed about new products and experiences
The foodie stereotype has been lampooned in pop culture for a while now. It’s a joke anyone with an Instragram or Facebook account gets. Restaurant goers are more interested and better informed now about their food and drinks than ever before. Just look around at the popularity of chef-driven shows and documentaries on restaurants and sommeliers. Customers are simply better informed about their dining experience. In turn, they’re also more adventurous in their choices, and with the right information, will be willing to try something new, or more expensive. Restaurants should use technology as way to assist their service staff and their customers. This is what Uncorkd looks to do with our ipad menus: enhance the customer experience by giving them the information they need to make more informed decision.
4. Restaurants gain a better understanding of their customers through analytics
Just like restaurant customers, restaurateurs have more data at their disposal with which they can stay better informed. Restaurants should be utilizing the data they can collect through tech services to better understand what’s happening in their own stores. From tracking customer and sales trends, to wine and beverage preference shifts, and customer reviews online, there is plenty of date out there that managers and owners should pay attention to. It’s all there to help you improve the customer experience.
5. Technology isn’t going to replace the social experience in a restaurant
Despite our lead in for this article, technology shouldn’t be seen as a threat to the social experience between guests and staff. Dining out is predominately a fun, social, interactive experience, and it should remain that way. What customers want, is the added advantages of technology with a human touch. Restaurants shouldn’t fear the advance of technology, they should embrace it and curate it in a way that adds value to their customers, while using it to supplement the skills of a great service staff.