Consumer-facing technology in restaurants, including quick-serve and fast casual environments, used to mean a solo digital sign informing us how many billions of cheeseburgers have been sold or if fries were added to the value menu.
Since those early days of integration, technology has not only revolutionized the back-end systems of restaurant operation in regards to ordering, scheduling, inventory management, and quality control, but has completely transformed the restaurant-to-customer relationship.
The use of technology among consumers of all ages is rapidly increasing. Ordering from your phone, posting pictures of food, taking part in consumer loyalty programs, providing direct feedback to managers, using tablets on tables, using gamification, tracking orders, and providing free wifi are all becoming common tactics designed to draw in diners and differentiate the brand experience.
A recent consumer research report conducted by Chicago-based research firm, Technomic, cites that for the Millennial generation, technology usage highly influences their decisions on where to dine. Restaurants need to explore how digital technologies can enhance the consumer's experience without interfering or hindering the root of the hospitality experience.
Big brands like Applebee’s, Olive Garden, and Johnny Rockets, have already started to implement table side tablets in the majority of their restaurants so that guests can order and pay right from the comfort of their booth without having to interact with servers.
“Technology-friendly service in restaurants has become important to consumers broadly, and to Millennials and Generation Z customers, it’s essential,” said Colleen Rothman, manager of consumer insights for Technomic. “Consumers will continue to look to pizza chains and fast casual brands for the latest and greatest digital platforms, but they also will expect all restaurants to integrate many technologies that have become a fact of daily life everywhere.” Features should include ordering from tablets and smartphones, gamification, e-loyalty programs, and free wifi.
That same survey places Domino’s as a leader of the most successful technology integration effort as they continue to drive innovation, recently partnering with Apple on a new Apple Watch app that allows customers to track their pizza from oven to doorstep.
Pollo Campero was the highest ranked fast casual chain for their online ordering and rewards program, and Cheddar’s Casual Cafe gets an honorable mention for their e-club loyalty program.
Samantha Chair in Pollo Campero
Another surprising statistic: only 13% of consumers interviewed said that the brands they had recently visited excelled in the use of technology.
This figure leaves a lot of room for improvement, but over the next few years the importance of these statistics will drive how fast casuals and big brand chains integrate technology into the guest experience.
Our Dylan Communal Table was designed specifically for the integration of technology within fast casual, QSR and casual dining restaurants.
Featured Image: Johnny Rockets
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