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Restaurant technology trends to define 2022
Monday, 10 January, 2022, 12 : 00 PM [IST]
Ashish Tulsian
Over the past couple of years, cloud adoption has brought in a paradigm shift for many industries.  The restaurant industry however took its own pace to adapt as it was highly driven by margins, resistance to change, and high Capex.  

However, the pressure to innovate, changing consumer habits, and acceleration of technology due to the pandemic have changed the mindset of operators.  From online ordering, self-checkouts, contactless dining to food delivery, the food and beverage industry cannot ignore the trends helping businesses reinvent themselves to remain relevant and competitive.

Going forward, growth in the restaurant industry will be driven by multiple factors such as off-premise consumption, menu engineering, new ingredients, and using technology to improve operations and service delivery.

Growth from off-premise dining and other revenue streams
Despite the quick comeback of off-premise revenue and footfall of consumers, brands today need a gateway to new revenue streams by continuously focusing on menu improvements and offering customised service through drive-thru, delivery, pick-up, meal kits, and more.

The investment in off-premises dining will continue to be one of the driving forces in restaurant design and operations in the coming year.  An extension to this is cloud kitchens, the success of these models purely depends on the quality of food and the speed of delivery. Understanding the unit economics of the partnership with the delivery apps and the cost of procurement of menu items is critical for the success of a cloud kitchen business.

Restaurant operators need to be aware of what customers like and dislike and anticipate what they are likely to order during different times and days. Study of the market revealed that 53% of restaurant operators are interested in setting up a cloud kitchen to build new revenue streams.

Marketing automation to build customer loyalty
Marketing automation and CRM will be an essential part of running a restaurant. Managing your customer information begins at the back end with gathering information on consumers’ interests, habits, lifestyle preferences.  Restaurants today need a seamless mechanism to gather feedback from multiple sources, food reviews, aggregators, social media, and other authorities under a single dashboard.  

Such intelligence can help brands understand their customers better and improve service that will eventually keep improving guest delight. Building effective communication across channels can go a long way in nurturing your guest relationships; restaurants can use CRM (Customer Relationship Management), tools to analyse the data of their diners and compelling communication touchpoints with the customers to create a personalised experience.

Building an efficient back of the house
End-to-end inventory management has been one of the most underrated pieces for running a restaurant.  Often, inventory is not as gratifying as perfecting a dish in a dine-in. Still, it is critical in your restaurant operations and plays a pivotal role in growing your restaurant.  A modern-day cloud POS technology has evolved where the interconnection of POS with other technologies used in restaurants like online ordering platforms, guest-facing technology, and kitchen display systems (KDS), can record stock counts, share real-time analytics, and auto-update item prices.

By automatically collecting relevant data in one place, you can speed up tracking and make decisions that directly impact the bottom-line efficiency.  According to our PRIME India report, 80% of restaurateurs agreed that deploying back of house tech is a necessity for running a successful restaurant.

Greater productivity through unified systems & integrations
As diners demand a more customised experience and restaurant owners rely more on data to make informed business decisions, a unified restaurant platform is at the heart of the action. It is that intersection where real-time transactions and analytics come into play. Integrations play a crucial role in building a unified and seamless performance. Restaurants can gain many important functionalities from third-party integrations, including employee management, payments, delivery, accounting, and more. Customer engagement integrations, such as loyalty programs, can also provide a high return on investment.

Voice-enabled ordering to ease user experience
Virtual assistance is no longer a distant reality in the restaurant industry.  Global chains like KFC and Pizza Hut, have enabled voice-activated ordering to provide a seamless experience to their customers. In-app voice assistance or integration with virtual assistants like Alexa or Google Assistant delivers easy navigation to customers for placing orders using voice commands. Voice assistance is one of the most promising technological trends and will influence the future of the restaurant industry.

 (The author is CEO and co-founder at POSist Technologies)
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