Will 2023 Be Transformative for Restaurants?

2023 has the potential to be transformative for restaurants, with opportunity for new innovation beyond a recession in these first months. The common theme you’ll see is restaurants continuing to do more with less, both to weather economic uncertainty and to deliver on heightened expectations from consumers. Thankfully, even if consumers dine out less, their desire to maximize each occasion will help buoy restaurants through this time.

The top challenge will continue to be labor shortages, which will restrict restaurants’ abilities to deliver an extra level of stellar service, and they’ll look to tech to fill in the gaps. We’ll see the consolidation of restaurant tech solutions into all-in-one platforms that can leverage approved guest data to build direct relationships, deliver exceptional experiences, and increase repeat visits and orders.  

We’re also starting to see a shift in diner behavior in the convergence of dine-in and delivery, as some consumers order delivery/takeout during the week and dine-in at restaurants on the weekends. This year, the line between off-premise diners and on-premise diners will become even more blurred, but the continued consumer demand is exciting as the industry comes back in full force. 

How will restaurants further embrace an omnichannel approach to ordering next year? 

One of the biggest shifts in 2022 was how guests sought out restaurants through new and unexpected channels, like TikTok. In fact, in a 2022 study, 53 percent of millennial TikTok users said they had visited a restaurant after seeing it on the social media platform, showcasing the power of new platforms in driving business. In 2023, we’ll see operators continuing to seek out platforms that meet guests across every single channel and touchpoint through which they might interact with a restaurant. With 40 percent of operators saying they currently use the social media platform to promote their restaurant, for example, there are significant opportunities for operators who choose to leverage channels such as these in their acquisition toolkit.

Additionally, 41 percent of today’s restauranteurs are using at least one or two online ordering platforms and more than a third offer direct online ordering on their website. A diner who wants to order directly through a restaurant’s website one day, may pivot to making a reservation the next. Whether these decisions happen on separate occasions or simultaneously, restaurants now have no choice but to manage this business with efficiency. 

Restaurants will further embrace the omnichannel approach, distributing their inventory to help guests book reservations through multiple avenues, and use integrations with sites like Google to streamline their customer’s pathway from discovery to completed online order. Just as omnichannel delivery ordering is now the industry norm, restaurants will use this same tactic with reservations to create a better guest experience and develop stronger loyalty with customers. 

How will persisting labor shortages shape the industry in 2023?

Restaurants saw incredible demand this year but were often challenged by a lack of staff to fully take advantage of it. Despite steady job growth, the number of employed restaurant staff still lags pre-pandemic counts by over 450,000 workers. As a result, tackling labor shortages will be top of mind for restaurants looking to shore up their core business.

While restaurant customers and guests will be largely indifferent to these labor challenges, they’ll still expect to receive personalized attention when they dine at their favorite restaurants, with less tolerance for sub-par service. In order to bridge the gap of staff limitations and exceptional guest experiences, restaurants will need to adopt more automation technology to help streamline operations. We’ll see operators lean more on guest management technology to solve this issue, using it to automate tasks for efficiency and collect data about their guests so they can more easily build deeper relationships with them, all while driving revenue and profitability and making life easier for their staff.