The restaurant industry is constantly witnessing major changes in technology. Smarter technological inventions are replacing traditional methods at restaurants. AI-driven technologies have been introduced in this sector after having carefully examined the customer behavior and their expectations over the years. To beat the massive competition that exists in the restaurant industry, restaurateurs need to invest wisely in technology.
Take for instance some of the latest technological developments in the restaurant world.
- According to an article by BBC, McDonald's is investing in an Artificial Intelligence start-up to help serve data-driven meal choices. The technology developed by this company can automatically change the menu depending on the weather looks that day. McDonald’s chief executive, Steve Easterbrook was quoted as saying, “It can know the time of day, it can know the weather. We can also have it understand what our service times are so it only suggests items that are easier to make in our peak hours”.
- Deliveries by drones? Uber is planning to start a program to deliver food via drones in San Diego, California. Uber and McDonalds have been collectively designing special food packaging that will keep the food warm or cold, depending on the food item being delivered. Not right at the doorsteps as of yet but at specific landing zones.
- There have been multiple instances when restaurants have been in the news because of the stale food being used at their outlets. Therefore, tracking food in the supply chain becomes important. ‘Radio Frequency Identification’ (RFID) could be termed as an advanced bar-code reader. RFID assigns a digital identity to food items and allows real-time tracking and inventory visibility. By using this, restaurant operators will know when the item was shipped, where has it reached its expiry date and more. This way, there will be a minimum of food wastage.
Using AI to identify the substances present inside a food item, even the harmful ones. TellSpec, an AI company in the States, processes the food item and lists out calories and other nutritious components present within the food item.
- What if customers could “speak-out” their orders without having to call the outlet. Many QSRs are now partnering with voice-enabled smart devices such as Amazon Echo and Google Home. By doing so, restaurant operators are letting customers order, pay, save location and more, through these devices.
- Robotic Automation? Robot’s special on the menu? Miso Robotics, a California based startup has developed an AI kitchen assistant, “Flippy”. A robot that grills, fries, preps, and plates. Wondering how? It is controlled using software integrated with sensors and cameras that recognize food.
- Softbank, a technology firm in Japan has partnered with MasterCard for generating a humanoid robot, Pepper. A robot waiter that takes custom orders, gives product recommendations and lets customers pay through its handheld tablet and more.
Addressing this Disruption
Customized chatbots, face recognition food apps, drones delivering food and other genius inventions have taken over the food industry by storm. However, many restaurants have disrupted functions because of this transformation in the restaurant technology space. They are either not able to match the fast-moving pace or are uprooted by their competitors. This makes it crucial for restaurants to use technologies like Point Of Sale systems with multiple integrations, strong loyalty programs for customer acquisition and retention.
Customers today are highly informed and tech-savvy. They don’t wish to give up the luxury of getting their favorite food delivered at their homes; rather, they are further craving an exciting dining experience. The restaurants that understand this intent have invested well in AI-driven restaurant technologies that will help them provide exceptional “guest experience” to their customers and keep them engaged.
How Much is Too Much?
Whilst virtual chatbots and robots taking over the restaurant may sound exciting, it has its own shortcomings. Although Facebook Messenger is a popular chatbot platform, it’s not very reliable in the long run, given the rate at which the popularity of social media platforms changes. Similarly, robots are game-changers for restaurants, however, they still need to be tested in different environments before they can be used extensively at restaurants.
It’s all about meeting the customer expectations. What do customers really want? One thing every diner hates is waiting. They want to be served exactly what they ordered without having to wait even for a minute. They expect quality over anything. If your restaurant provides that, you win. It’s all about knowing what they want and using it in your favor. The disruption in the restaurant technology space is inevitable. The key is to comprehend the intent and make use of technology to create a tastefully distinct dining experience.