Restaurants embrace technology to attract digitally-minded customers

By Joe Lutrario

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Restaurant

Grillshack is one of the restaurants embracing technology supplying customers with touch-screens and an app to allow them to select and pay for food
Grillshack is one of the restaurants embracing technology supplying customers with touch-screens and an app to allow them to select and pay for food
Restaurant operators are starting to embrace new ordering and payment technology as a way of attracting digitally-minded consumers.

The Richard Caring-backed Grillshack, which opened on Beak Street in Soho, London, in August, is one of a new breed of concepts that are using the latest innovations to speed up ordering and service.

The all-day dining restaurant features touch-screen kiosks in which customers can select and pay for their food and also has an app to enable diners to use a smartphone for the same process. 

Grillshack is not alone in its technological endeavours. Newly-launched Italian restaurant Love’s Fresh Pasta in Marylebone, London, operates a system whereby touch-screen menus and wall-mounted scanners are used by customers to create bespoke pizzas. Diners then pay for their meal at the till or scan their order themselves, the progress of which is then tracked on screens within the restaurant.

Mexican group Wahaca, meanwhile, opens its fast-casual Burrito Mama concept this month in the City, also using self-serve ordering screens. Similarly, it is building an app to allow customers to avoid queuing.

The company recently trialled an app called Flypay at its site in Islington, London, that allows customers to check, split and pay their bill from their phone, cutting the payment process from an industry average of 10 minutes to one minute.

Touch-screens

The use of touch-screens is likely to become more prevalent across the industry thanks to the large amount of information they can hold. “This technology enables you to include much more information than you can on a traditional menu, made even more appealing by dish images, even small video clips,” said Stuart Coetzee, strategic business development manager at EPoS provider Tissl.

“Twenty-five to 35-year-olds in particular favour mobile technology precisely because of this rich level of information. Here’s a way to add more value to their dining experience and free your staff to spend more time with those customers that prefer more traditional service.”

A number of apps specifically designed to reduce queuing and enable restaurants to launch a takeaway service have also been adopted by restaurants in recent months. Technology startup Qudini allows customers to avoid standing in line by joining a virtual queue on their mobile. The service, which also provides SMS updates and brand content while a customer waits, is used in no-bookings chains Honest Burgers and Bodean’s.

New to the UK, the Zerved app, meanwhile, enables customers to use a smartphone to order and pay for food, which they then collect. It is being used by London-based sushi chain Tsuru.

Simplifying the ordering process can reap large rewards, according to Coetzee. “Our trials reveal that the convenience of ordering prompted significant upsells, with one in five tables ordering something else off the menu," he said. 

This article first appeared in the October 2013 edition of Restaurant magazine, out today. To subscribe click here​ or view the digital edition here​.

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