As we settle into 2019, the tech trajectory continues its upward curve. While many of last year’s top trends like back-of-house robotics and virtual reality tools gained real traction, other trends are poised this year to make even deeper inroads. Restaurants no longer ask whether technology is essential, only how quickly it can be installed. The challenge for restaurant operators, however, is in spotting which of today’s trends have lasting value that will work for every brand.
First, let’s talk about some of the trends that restaurant operators capitalised on in 2018, followed by four more trends for 2019 that promise to reshape independent, multi-unit, and large chain restaurants, some with suspected promise for increased revenue.
Takeaway and delivery is still rising as it expands out of the city and into the regions. We’re seeing restaurant operators make the most of these revenue streams by deploying kitchen display systems (KDS) in growing numbers. By maintaining the flow of orders with their KDS, operators are reducing ticket times, gaining insights, and more easily perfecting off-premise dining strategies. Operators yet to introduce a dedicated delivery offer must also consider a growing threat of the ghost restaurant, which is set to become one of the most talked about stories in 2019.
1. Ghost Restaurants
Also known as delivery-only restaurants, ghost restaurants are racking up numbers as operators test the market; the smart money bet is not starting in delivery – it’s staying there. Estimates have shown brands can halve their operating costs without the need to rent or buy dining space and pay front-of-house staff.
Ghost restaurants focus entirely on cooking and delivering food to customers who place online orders. Technology has become the driving force behind this deliver-to-your door phenomenon. Although ghost restaurants cannot offer a take-away option without a shopfront, consumer demand is still a big influence. Customers want convenience and with that must come speed; ghost restaurant operators that need a faster operational pace use automation for efficiency, by way of their integrate KDS and robotics.
As artificial intelligence (AI) reaches further into kitchen technology, the ability to automatically make decisions on which ingredients to cook when, enables back-of-house efficiency through automatic supply re-ordering.
The ability to keep pace with automated order flow systems will also be enriched through the connection of smart appliances. This year, we expect to see growth of pre-programmed machines such as combi-ovens, which allow the chef to select the meal on order and let the tech take the strain. When AI is deployed to work alongside this kind of mechanisation, the entire cooking process can be automated, from ingredient ordering to the timing of each cooking station.
Automation will likely dominate the restaurant sector this year. Its efficiencies may offset the expected fall in available workforce and allow chefs in the kitchen to operate at the top of their game.
3. Recipe reading technology
As the technology beds down, we predict that smart ovens will soon be reading recipes to automatically create dishes. Using a recipe viewer for back-of-house teams is already a reality at many restaurants in the U.K. but imagine if the kitchen oven could read the recipe and set the process in motion itself. This tech isn’t far from becoming the norm, freeing chefs to concentrate on accuracy and achieving the best presentation to boost the customer experience.
4. More bookings through search
Consumer’s online search habits for places to eat have changed. Instead of entering an individual restaurant’s name, consumers are now using the ever more popular phrases like “restaurants near me” or “burgers near me.” That means restaurants must place even greater emphasis this year on partnering with platforms that allow for their restaurants to be booked through the search engines.
Operators must remain aware and seize advantages of these four trends. Meanwhile, those who stay attuned to changing consumer preferences and leverage the technologies that can increase operational efficiencies will be in a stronger position to increase revenue throughout the year.
For more about QSR Automations, visit www.qsrautomations.co.uk