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EXECUTIVE INSIGHTS | Staff Reporter, UK
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Looking ahead to the top tech trends for 2019

QSR Automations Vice President of Sales Ashley Sheppard looks at the tech-driven convenience options which are set to continue to influence modern restaurant trends next year.

We have seen many big technology trends gathering pace over the past 12 months. Consumers are more comfortable with the idea of technology being part of the dining experience nowadays and, as a result, tech-driven convenience options will continue to influence modern restaurant trends in the year ahead.

Delivery boom
Takeaway and delivery are undoubtedly set to carry on their upward trail. As more and more consumers look to save the pennies and take their entertainment on the sofa from the likes of Amazon and Netflix, we can only expect the remote dining market to boom alongside.

Third-party delivery partners such as Just Eat, Deliveroo and Uber Eats are also growing their presence and consumers now expect most restaurant brands to have an off-premise option. Analysts NPD Group predict UK spend on restaurant food delivery to grow by 10% next year to £5billion. The group says the delivery aggregators will also reap great rewards through subscription and loyalty programmes, and expect foodservice brands to forge partnerships with in-home entertainment providers.

For restaurant operators, it seems the takeaway and delivery option is not only becoming a vital revenue stream but also an all but inevitable one. Whether operators choose to handle delivery in-house or through one of the third-party services depends on bandwidth and finances, but there are options.

Either way, to make the offer work, technological integration is important because so much of the modern off-site dining platform is built on digital support, from mobile ordering to app-based payment. Market insights specialist Mintel has already found 51% of US diners would like to see even more mobile order options and these developments usually hit UK shores soon afterwards.

Operators should ensure they choose tech that can connect the most crucial points in the process, particularly the EPoS, kitchen display system and table management software. When this tech is talking, operators will be able to handle the flow of walk-in diners, reservations and online orders smoothly, and without one disrupting the other.

A single, joined up system will also ensure order quoting and estimated wait times are more accurate to provide a better experience for the customer as the various devices collect their data from the kitchen, eliminating the need for staff to take a guess.

Make a date with data
Data and analytics will be an ongoing focus for operators looking to make improvements in restaurants in 2019. Using the information from devices like the kitchen display system, management can see metrics such as speed of service, average party size and revenue, as well as track menu item performance to maximise profitability. With fully integrated technology, operators can spot bottlenecks in the operation so they can address them, keep service flowing and customers coming back.

Tapping into the market
Back in the dining room, mobile pay-at-table movements are gaining popularity as they simplify the process for customers and enable operators to turn more tables. Food and drink consultants CGA reported that 28% of operators across the industry planned to offer customers the ability to pay by app by the end of 2018, with these numbers predicted to grow next year.

Kiosk ordering isn’t staying static either as the market starts to install even smarter tech that can store and recall an identified customer’s previous orders with a few quick taps, helping to offset the diminishing workforce, keep things moving in the counter area and make it a more interesting experience for customers.

While trends may come and go, there are some developments that are here for the long haul and represent sound investments for restaurant operators who look for the platforms they can build upon. Of course, there will always be new movements but if every brand can work out which will benefit their business for the next few years and integrate accordingly, tech developments will be the mainstay that keeps operators ahead of the curve.

The views expressed in this column are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect this publication's view, and this article is not edited by QSRMedia UK. The author was not remunerated for this article.

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