Foodservice is one of the most competitive industries, so businesses within need to turn to new technology to compete. Technological adoption rates are high in foodservice, and those who don’t keep up are quickly left behind. Think you’re ahead of the game? If your recent tech was a digital ordering system, that’s a good start, but you’re missing out on some of the best technologies that can help you succeed!
That said, you also need to be sure that any new technology you adopt is beneficial for your bottom line. After all, with the Covid-19 pandemic and heavy restrictions on the food industry, many businesses are struggling to stay afloat. If you have the money to invest, you can use technology to stay ahead of the competition or insulate your business against uncertainty.
There are front-of-house and back-of-house technologies that don’t cost too much and that can immediately help you. Here are some of the most important tech strategies you can use in the food service industry.
Mobile Online Ordering
With restrictions on in-house dining, mobile online ordering has become very important in the restaurant space as well as for grocery and specialty retailers. You have a choice with mobile ordering; you can reinvent the wheel with your own app or use a third-party option such as Grab or Square. Consumer preferences are split, and there are advantages to both options.
According to Food Business News, 43% of consumers want to order through a business’ own app. However, there is a reason only 18% of businesses offer such an app. Developing an app can be costly and challenging, while third-party apps don’t have the same upfront costs.
On the other hand, according to Bake Magazine, 21% of consumers want to use one app to order all their food. In fact, 52% of Gen Z has used a third-party mobile app. There are downsides to third-party apps, too. When you use your own app, you can send alerts to consumers, capitalize on consumer data, and use your own suggestive sells to maximize sales with your customers. You have limited options in these areas on UberEats.
This is an older technology that is seeing a lot more use in the foodservice space now that the focus is on limiting contact and, for time’s sake, trying to limit how much staff need to clean. QR codes are like barcodes that you can easily designate to your spaces or use as links to direct guests to anything online. They are simple to develop yourself and every smart phone can read them, which makes it convenient—and convenience is key.
Those in the foodservice industry who are tired of cleaning menus will appreciate that a QR Code can direct guests to a digital menu. This can save you many hours of cleaning, it can save you from the cost of printing new menus, and it can make your dining experience feel more exploratory.
QR codes can also be used in inventive ways, like to designate parking lot spaces, and allow your staff to deliver food out to consumers when they can’t dine-in.
With all this focus on the front end, you might forget that technology can also help you save time and manage your business better in the back end. Of utmost importance is inventory technology. If you’re struggling with an older solution, consider that the modern options integrate several inventory managements tasks on one platform. They can give real time information and, better yet, use algorithms to seamlessly manage your inventory. Some solutions allow you to record food waste, get the information you need to make pricing decisions, and much more.
Automated Cleaning Solutions
With Covid-19, there are even more cleaning demands on your staff. Automated cleaning solutions can save time and ensure a cleaner environment. You can use these solutions to market to guests, who may still be worried about their health and safety in your space. And, as cleaning is always something you have to do, these solutions are a good investment for the everyday running of your business. Automated solutions are available for cleaning stoves and tables, and many pieces of equipment in between.
Of course, social media is an essential tool in any food service business’s toolkit. A survey from MGH revealed that 36% of diners follow restaurants on social media, and 45% say that they have tried a restaurant for the first time due to a social media post they liked. Plus, 22% of diners were encouraged to return to a restaurant that they were already familiar with through social media. However, it’s not enough to just be on social media. You must do it well.
Google, Yelp, and other social media channels are as competitive as the food industry itself, so you need a sound strategy to make the best use of this technology. Focus on the channels that hit your target audience best, consider posting times, post authentic behind-the-scenes content, and more.
Some brands are making big waves on social media by offering plant-based meat alternatives. If you don’t have access to that, or it doesn’t fit your business model, you can still capitalize on the trend. Consumers want something that is geared towards health or environmentalism that they can try at a restaurant. Your chickpea Buddha bowls, or zucchini noodles can become a social media sensation too.
If you thought that vending machines were a technology of the past, you will be surprised by the new advances that have made them more appealing for consumers and the food service industry as a whole. ViaTouch Media has designed Vicki, an AI-based vending machine that learns peoples habits and automatically offers them discounts. It also offers thumb and iris-based payment options and is completely customizable for any product, even outside of the food service industry. The best part might be that the vending machine automatically sanitizes itself.
Are you looking for ways to get noticed, get more customers, and otherwise optimize your foodservice business? CmonGo can help. Reach out to us today.