5 Restaurant Tech Trends in 2021

The year 2020 brought about sweeping changes to the whole world. It made an impact on almost every industry out there and shook the status quo. While some industries faced huge losses and others experienced tremendous growth, one thing is for certain- the year made all of us realize that technology plays a colossal role in making a business thrive. As an increasing number of ventures have been compelled to change their business strategies, the importance of technology has risen at an astounding rate.

As we gear up for 2021, there are a few restaurant tech trends we can look forward to this year. In this article, we’re going to cover five tech trends in the limelight that are going to be complete game-changers in the food and beverage industry. Whether you own a fine dining establishment or a Quick Service Restaurant, you need to incorporate these trends into your daily operations if you want your business to take off.

Online Waitlisting

If you have been running a café or a food joint for a while, you’ve probably experienced having more customers than you can accommodate. Naturally, this leads to longer lines in your waiting area or outside the restaurant. As crowds wait, there’s bound to be some irritation among potential customers. While some may be vocal about having to wait for so long and create conflict, others might decide to leave and dine somewhere else altogether. This situation can lead to negative reviews and dampen your restaurant's image. However, there is a way to fix this- online waitlisting.

How does this work? Well, instead of having an employee jot down the names and numbers of walk-in customers, you can automate the entire process. On your website or app, you can allow customers to ‘check-in’ to your restaurant. Here, they can find out the estimated time they would have to wait for, or if there are tables free immediately. Once they’ve checked in, you could also let them go through the menu and place their orders, all before they’ve even stepped foot in your restaurant.

The entire process is quick and seamless, and your customers don’t have to deal with their patience running thin. Online waitlisting can be a godsend during rush hour and on the weekends, and it is sure to leave your customers feeling satisfied and taken care of. While this may not seem like a mainstream option right now, it’s going to become an essential feature in most restaurant apps soon.

Automated Inventory Management

Managing your inventory effectively is indispensable when it comes to running a successful restaurant. Inventory management encompasses several things-keeping a count of perishable food items, cleaning supplies, tissue papers, sanitizers, and a whole bunch of other stuff used every day in a restaurant. You need to be aware of the quantities of every item in your inventory, at any given point. And this is easier said than done. It takes a lot of time and effort to create a system for inventory management and no matter how hard you try, there is always a chance of human error.

With the right kind of POS system, inventory management can be automated entirely. You can use it to track current inventory levels, create alerts when certain items are running low, and track any food being wasted. All inventory-related information will be in one place and can help you make better decisions related to future orders, leading to higher profits. This automation of inventory management is steadily becoming a must for every restaurant out there.

Online Ordering System W/ Contactless Ordering

One of the major changes brought about by the coronavirus pandemic is the advent of online ordering systems. Contactless ordering is the new normal and it has slowly become the go-to option for most customers. Given that most of the last year has revolved around government imposed restrictions on dining out, contactless ordering and food delivery has increased manifold. Having an efficient and user-friendly online ordering system is no longer optional, but a huge necessity.

Whether customers order food using your app or your website, you need to make sure that they can do so effortlessly with just a few clicks. At the same time, keep in mind that you need to offer quick customer service too, either through chatbots or a customer support team available at all times. Online ordering systems are expected to grow more than ever in the years to follow.

Cloud Kitchens

These days, most customers prefer ordering food to their doorstep rather than stepping out for a meal. And why not? You get to order from the comfort of your bedroom, you save gas money, you don’t have to risk waiting in line…the perks go on and on. This growing preference has led to the creation of cloud kitchens, also referred to as ghost kitchens. Restaurants can run only on food delivery now, instead of having a traditional dining space where customers can drop by.

Basically, cloud kitchens are kitchen spaces for a restaurant. They receive orders online and deliver food either through their employees or by using third-party food delivery apps. This is a very economical option as a lot of money is saved by not having to pay rent for a huge space. There is also no added pressure of finding the perfect location for your restaurant, given that the food is delivered to the customers.

Even if you have a traditional restaurant up and running, you can look into this option and give it a shot. You can use it to expand your business to different parts of your town, or different cities altogether. This business model has made great strides recently and is very promising in the near future.

Marketing Automation

Keeping in touch with your customers is essential in the present-day scenario. Whether this is through SMS, email, or social media, you need to make sure that you’re communicating with your clientele from time to time. There have been ground-breaking developments in the field of AI that can help you automate the marketing process.

Using customer data that you’ve collected over time, some kinds of software can create tailor-made messages to send out to your customers based on your requirement. Whether it is to offer a personalized discount coupon or wish a customer a happy birthday, marketing automation can help you save a lot of time. All in all, this kind of marketing can offer a much more enriching experience to customers.

The field of restaurant technology has evolved quite a bit in the last few years. With more and more developments in the field, restaurateurs have been able to cut down on waiting times. Instant feedback, personalized marketing, online delivery have all helped the food and beverage industry grow phenomenally.

The restaurant tech trends we’ve covered in this article are going to pave the way for restaurants globally for the next few years and keep up with the ever-growing expectations of customers. With a little bit of research, you can implement these changes and improve your restaurant’s performance by leaps and bounds.

Good luck!