In 2014, the importance of embracing technologies – especially the ones that consumers use on a daily basis – cannot be understated. Modern restaurants are utilizing the following technologies as a means to enhance the functionality of their existing restaurant technology, like their point of sale (POS) and kitchen display system (KDS), as well as engage existing and potential customers.
Here are three of the most popular restaurant technology trends of the moment:
1. Mobile and online ordering
In the hospitality industry, mobile and online ordering are becoming increasingly popular – and for good reason. They’ve become a popular trend because they benefit both the consumer and the business, allowing for a quicker, more valuable experience overall.
How do they add value? Well, aside from the convenience ordering from home with a few taps or clicks, many online ordering modules and mobile ordering applications allow customers to browse menu options, recipes, and calorie contents and input modifiers to truly customize their experience.
Whether they’re being used for to-go, pick-up, delivery or in-house orders, restaurants can increase the speed of order and delivery as well as improve order accuracy by allowing customers to enter their own orders. Orders taken online or on the customers’ smartphone can be easily integrated with restaurant POS and KDS to eliminate confusion and streamline food preparation.
Not to mention, mobile and online ordering are a great way for restaurants to show that they are on-board with the latest industry technology and innovations – a quality that today’s consumers actively seek.
2. Social media responses
Why is social media so important? Well, millennials – consumers aged between 18 and 35 – make up an integral part of a restaurant’s audience, as they account for a quarter of the population. And when asked how they learn about brands, 51 percent of them said Facebook, according to Adweek.
Although social media has been an active part of restaurant marketing for the last few years, the latest trend is brands’ increased responses to their friends, fans and followers. Restaurants are responding to customer service queries, managing and solving crises or just plain making conversation with their existing and prospective customers through social media.
This trend has gained ground because it allows restaurants to kill several birds with one stone. Rather than communicating with their customers through phone or email (where the only person who can benefit from the conversation are the people on either end of the line), restaurants can contact several hundred or thousand of their connections at once by posting a response. That way, restaurants can also use social media as a tool to shape their restaurant’s reputation and contribute to its transparency.
3. Personalized loyalty accounts
Studies have shown that customers are more likely to try something new (like a new restaurant) if they have a coupon or discount – and they could be even more likely if they receive exclusive deals right to their inbox in a personalized email.
Many modern restaurants have launched personalized loyalty programs, acting like sort of a “VIP club” that offers loyal customers exclusive point-based promotions. Restaurant businesses are partial to this trend because it allows them to keep a large database of customers that they can leverage in their email marketing campaigns, in hopes of inspiring more purchases and selling deeper into their customer base.
With each purchase, customers are able to collect a certain number of points and work their way toward a free or discounted meal. And restaurants can periodically send emails reminding customers of the amount of points needed to hit the next reward level.
For example, Papa John’s does this with their online ordering platform – once a customer has accumulated 25 points using their Papa Rewards account, they are eligible for a free pizza.
Personalized loyalty accounts and related emails are another great way for restaurants to embrace technology. Because once they have received an email coupon, customers can enter an online coupon code or present a redeemable QR code in the physical restaurant.