Food for Thought: New Digital Tools for Restaurants

As restaurants turned more to technology, they need to think through their digital options. There are two new digital technologies available for restaurants to automate the ordering process that owners need to understand. 

The first technology is progressive web apps (PWA). PWAs are web-based experiences that appear like a mobile app but require no user download. A PWA built for restaurants would display a menu and enable the user to select items, place an order and make a payment. Users would scan a QR code or click an online link to open the PWA.

The second technology that restaurants can use is messaging. In this case, users can place their orders through SMS or Whatsapp. The restaurant can make its menu available through messaging apps that enable the user to order and pay. 

It is possible for restaurants to use both technologies together to drive even better results. For example, the restaurant can run marketing campaigns with daily specials to their regular customers through SMS and Whatsapp with messages that include links to their PWA.

However, it’s not enough to just digitize the ordering process. There are many drivers of a restaurant’s success besides the ordering and delivering of food. Successful restaurants build a strong relationship with their customers. When a visitor comes to the restaurant, the server typically engages the customer in a conversation covering the history of the restaurant, what’s unique about it, today’s specials, personalized recommendations based on individual preferences and more.  Only after a relationship is established does the ordering and fulfillment take place. Is it possible to digitize the customer engagement process as well? 

Yes, certainly. The way to digitize customer engagement is through conversational experiences, which simulate human chat. Users can simply engage in a conversation with the restaurant, just like they would chat with a friend. In this conversation, the restaurant can make available additional information like history, specials, personal recommendations, loyalty programs, recipes and more. This conversational experience can be made available through Whatsapp, SMS or a PWA. 

Another important factor for these tools is that they must interconnect with existing Point-of-Sale (POS) systems currently being used by the restaurant. It is preferable for the restaurant to manage all incoming orders from one common dashboard. 

Restaurants using these new tools might see their business bounce back. In some cases, their business might even be higher than before due to the increased efficiency of ordering and payment. These restaurants have converted adversity into opportunity by adapting quickly.

Going digital helps restaurants not just survive but also thrive. Now that’s some real food for thought.