Technology Trends for Quick-Serve and Coffee Shop Restaurants
Recent years have been challenging for quick-serve restaurants. Inflation, staffing shortages, fears of an economic recession, and lingering questions about a reliable supply chain have had the restaurant industry on edge. Despite all this, consumers are again eating out, and the industry shows signs of renewed growth.
In an industry in flux, we thought it was time to stop and look at the trends going on in the industry so restaurant owners can assess their next steps going into the final quarter of 2023 and make plans for next year.
The top issues for restaurants
The biggest issue: Inflation has been the factor weighing heaviest on the industry, and managing inventory and cost of goods sold is the most challenging. Rising wholesale food prices, continuing supply chain issues, and a price-conscious consumer have forced restaurants to revise their menu selection and pricing strategies, including substituting ingredients in recipes, better management of inventory and waste, and smaller portion sizes. Consumers understand inflation is putting pressure on all businesses, so explaining why prices are increasing will ease some of the pain. With rising menu prices affecting all restaurants, cost-conscious consumers are looking for low-priced meals, and quick-serve restaurants stand to benefit the most. Many restaurant patrons have said they will accept an increase of 10-15% before they reduce their restaurant spending.
The hottest technology: Point of sales technology is the most popular technology investment in the industry. Front-of-house kiosks and online ordering capabilities help the restaurant mitigate staffing shortages and keep costs low. These modern ordering systems also help by providing faster transactions, displaying popular and previous customer orders, offering upsell opportunities, and delivering a more personalized customer experience. Handheld devices help accelerate order-taking and bill payments. A note of caution: Integrating new technology can be challenging. Online ordering apps and in-store kiosks must be reliably tested and tied into the operational flow of the restaurant so kitchen staff can see the orders as they come in.
Other trends to watch for quick-serve restaurants
Increased competition from unlikely sources. In addition to their traditional competitors, quick-serve restaurants now compete with convenience stores, food trucks, and small-footprint coffee shops that offer quick takeout, short lines, and competitive products.
Delivery and curbside pick-up. Consumers have embraced curbside pick-up, takeout, and delivery options as a byproduct of the COVID pandemic. Third-party delivery services like DoorDash, Grub Hub, and Uber Eats have become popular, and their fees have grown as a result. Some restaurants are keeping overall costs down by offering their own delivery options.
Contactless payment methods. The COVID pandemic moved many retailers to accept contactless payment methods like tap-to-pay credit cards and digital payment apps like PayPal, Google Pay, and Apple Pay. Contactless payment methods reduce the time to process payments at the point of sale and are convenient for your customers.
Growth of digital marketing. In addition to (or instead of) traditional media, such as print and broadcast advertising, increased emphasis is being placed on digital advertising through websites, social media, and even games. Attention spans are getting shorter these days, so digital marketing needs to get to the point quickly.
Personalization. Growth in data acquisition yields increased knowledge about your customers. Use of AI helps leverage that knowledge to build specific targeted campaigns, personalized menu ideas, and loyalty programs.
Consumers are used to having various purchasing options across all industries, and they now expect similar choices in their dining experiences. Delivering a seamless ordering, payment, and fulfillment experience should be your top priority.