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Leveraging Automation and Mobile to Support Labor

David Naumann, Marketing Strategy Lead – Retail, Verizon
David Naumann, Marketing Strategy Lead – Retail, Verizon

Automation is a hot trend for restaurants, delivering new efficiency and potentially easing labor challenges. What are some benefits to an automated approach to operations and customer service?

As labor shortages and higher wages continue to impact the restaurant industry, restaurant operators are looking for ways to leverage technology to improve productivity and retain staff. When used in restaurants, automation can make workers’ jobs better and more fulfilling. That’s because it can free employees from the need to perform repetitive manual tasks, giving them more time for things that are more fun (and less frustrating), like serving guests. Key ways that restaurants can leverage technology to improve labor productivity and operations include turning to mobile apps to create efficiencies and making use of robotics, drive-thru automation and computer vision. These tools can play roles in kitchen operations and automated inventory management, but they can also help to reduce bottlenecks in drive-thru and food-prep workflows.

Mobile ordering and payments are now standard for most restaurants. What are some of the benefits and opportunities presented by the move to mobile?

As consumers and staff have become accustomed to digital engagement on mobile devices, it has become the device of choice. Mobile ordering from either the guest’s device or a server’s device helps increase order accuracy and speeds order delivery, which increases customer satisfaction and table turns. Guests that order from their mobile device often order more items, which helps increase restaurant revenues. From a mobile payment perspective, whether it is on a guest’s device or an associate’s device, it provides guests peace of mind that their payment card doesn’t leave their sight and it also speeds up the payment process.

Our data suggests that digital disruption is now the norm. How can the digital guest relationship be enhanced and leveraged?  

When it comes to guests’ expectations for personalized and convenient dining experiences, the bar just seems to be getting higher. Integrating mobile ordering and payment processes with loyalty programs creates more marketing opportunities for restaurants to personalize the dining experience. When guests opt in, restaurants can leverage a wealth of data on their preferences, previous purchases and loyalty status to engage with them and provide personalized recommendations that encourage larger orders and repeat visits. Offering speedy Wi-Fi makes it possible for guests to play their favorite games or share their experiences on social media while they’re waiting for their orders — or enjoying an Instagrammable dessert. If the guests aren’t members of the restaurant’s loyalty program, the restaurant can still send them special offers if they provided their email to gain access to the Wi-Fi.

Restaurant guests and operators remain concerned about security threats. What are some critical considerations for protecting data?

As restaurants expand the amount of data they collect from their customers via online orders and loyalty programs, security of personal and payment data continues to be a high priority. From a payment security perspective, one of the top priorities is to prepare their payment systems and staff to meet the updated requirements of the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) v4.0. In addition, restaurants must be extremely diligent in monitoring, detecting and responding to cyber threats.