Every day, restaurant technology moves the industry forward. Examining the latest tech and trends helps restaurant owners and managers determine where the industry is heading and how to meet market demands.
Currently, new solutions are making significant differences in customer experiences, as well as in how restaurant operations are managed. This includes developments in restaurant software and hardware for back- and front-of-house processes.
As technology develops, the habits and expectations of diners and staff change at the same time. To help you get a better grasp of where we’re at, this guide covers some of the most innovative new technology in restaurants right now.
Technology in Restaurants: What’s Currently Available?
Restaurant businesses are rapidly embracing technology to help them work more efficiently in all areas, including kitchen operations, employee management, and the diner experience. Here are some of the main types of restaurant technology we currently see:
Mobile POS Systems
Mobile point of sale (POS) systems are one of the biggest tech trends in the restaurant business right now. Restaurants no longer rely on a single screen positioned in their business to process orders. Instead, individual waitstaff can carry around their own mobile POS systems.
This type of restaurant technology has many advantages. It speeds up the ordering process, as waiters can send orders to the kitchen as soon as a customer places them. This speed in order also lowers the risk of forgotten or mixed-up orders. And when the floor is busy, there’s no need to worry about a crowded POS ordering system. This reduces bottlenecks and improves restaurant operations.
Finally, mobile POS technology makes it much easier for customers to settle their bills. Bills can be printed, and credit cards or contactless payment options quickly processed at the table.
Mobile POS systems can require dedicated hardware. However, most systems use a cloud-based POS app that you can download to any smartphone or tablet. This makes it relatively easy for restaurant operators to set up and apply these systems. Read more on What To Look For In A Restaurant Management POS System here.
Event Management Software
Successful restaurants that host private dining events or rent their venues for special occasions use great event management software. It helps them generate more bookings and optimize the venue management process by improving efficiency and boosting dining experiences.
At a glance, the software makes a major difference in how restaurant heads book and manage events, stay organized, and implement restaurant operations. You can use the technology to streamline client communications, track event tasks, create essential documents (like BEOs), automate reminders, and much more.
Online Ordering Systems
Online ordering for takeaways and delivery has taken off over the last couple of years. As a result, many restaurants are joining the movement to offer online orders to their customer base. This can be through third-party apps like GrubHub, DoorDash, or UberEats, or the restaurant’s own website.
Meeting this market with online ordering options offers many benefits. It's an excellent way to open up a new revenue stream and generate more sales, as diners can be outside your physical location to place orders.
Restaurant Reservation Software
Reservation software has also been rapidly adopted in the restaurant industry. These days, many establishments offer online reservations or streamline their reservation management with tech tools.
Instead of calling up an establishment on the phone, diners use embedded website technology to make bookings and even select their seats. This makes the restaurant much more accessible as potential customers can self-serve and read online reviews submitted by real diners at the same time.
For restaurants, it means the ability to take bookings is always on. In short, you can fill seats and better manage waitlists to ensure maximum potential earnings.
Advanced POS Systems
Point-of-sale systems remain the most critical restaurant technology. While the industry has been using this tech for many years, POS systems are becoming more advanced and integrated.
Your POS system is the central hub that all your operations revolve around. Beyond just processing orders, you can use these systems for inventory management, assisting online orders and delivery services, managing staff, helping with bookkeeping, and taking a deeper dive into your business performance.
As restaurant technology advances, POS systems utilize more data and integrate with a wider range of tech tools to help establishments operate more efficiently.
Kitchen Display System
Gone are the days of printed tickets coming through in the kitchen. Instead of using a kitchen printer to process orders, kitchen display screens are a far better option to improve efficiency.
The hardware makes it a lot easier for chefs to see new orders, stay up to date with orders, and manage operations in the kitchen. Thanks to the display system, no more tickets can get lost or mixed up.
Furthermore, when you combine a kitchen screen with table-side ordering systems, orders can come through to the kitchen much faster. This lets you provide quicker service and boost the guest experience.
Self-Ordering Kiosks and Table Ordering
Many restaurants are adopting self-ordering systems for their diners. This can be seen in self-order kiosks placed throughout the venue and in menus that let people order at the table.
Restaurants achieve this by placing a QR code on the table that gives access to the menu. Customers simply scan the code, place the order through their devices, and the order goes straight to the kitchen.
Mobile ordering restaurant technology minimizes friction in the ordering process and can help you save time and money. These systems take a lot of pressure off the floor staff and management team while improving the customer experience.
Trends in Restaurant Technology
We’ve covered some of the leading tech tools and ideas the restaurant industry is adopting. To understand the context in more detail, here are some key restaurant technology trends taking shape.
One of the biggest restaurant technology trends is a rise in online activity. This includes all kinds of areas of restaurant operations - from online ordering and booking to mobile payments, or restaurant and event management.
By utilizing cloud technology, restaurants can access a wide range of online tools to help smooth operations. These tools also help the restaurant to remain relevant while making the guest experience more convenient.
So, in terms of tech trends, we see a significant shift towards online processes to augment on- and off-premise activity.
Restaurant technology is making all kinds of manual processes a lot easier. This includes software tools that automate things like bookings and inventory management, as well as advanced automation hardware tools.
We’re even seeing a rise in robots entering restaurants. This includes machines that offer automated temperature monitoring inside restaurants to complete robot cooks taking over in the kitchen.
In a traditionally hands-on industry, restaurant automation technology plays a big role in streamlining restaurant operations.
Less Human Contact
Human contact is decreasing in the restaurant industry while tech tools are gaining popularity. We’re seeing this in the rise in contactless payments, self-ordering systems, food delivery networks, and more.
The traditional restaurant dining experience is steadily losing points of in-person contact. This became popular during the pandemic, and contactless restaurant technology has only grown in popularity since then.
We’re even seeing drone food delivery systems being implemented - which means customers can order, pay for, and accept food from a restaurant without ever coming into contact with a human.
More Industry-Specific Software
One of the keys to more innovative restaurant management comes down to using the right software. As technology develops, we see more software solutions designed specifically for the restaurant industry. This includes venue and event management tools, restaurant-specific inventory management, operations, or accounting software, and more.
Utilizing software platforms specifically designed for restaurants helps you access more relevant tools, functions, and information. Ultimately, this results in improved restaurant management.
To run a successful restaurant in the current climate, it’s vital to stay ahead of the curve and embrace the right technology. This can save a lot of time and money, and make a major difference in how efficiently you shape diner and staff experiences.
You don't have to turn your restaurant into an entirely automated business run by robots, but you should start using software and tech tools that make your operations smarter.