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Restaurant Technology's Continual Evolution

3/19/2019
More than ever before, restaurant technology is linked to operations, marketing and the bottom line.

Technology is shaping the restaurant experience more than ever before. For guests, that means digital ordering, app-based delivery, loyalty programs, digital coupons and more. For restaurants, it’s building loyalty, gaining repeat visits and insight into more trackable revenues. In the last five years, the technology of the restaurant brand has begun to look a lot like the technology of the e-commerce brand, which marks a real shift in how the business of food gets done.

In the old days – meaning, like, 5 years ago -- restaurant technology choices were made by the IT group and were mostly about running the restaurant; making sure platforms like POS systems were live. But that has changed. Today, there is so much insight available to brands -- so much incremental revenue available to tech leaders in the space -- that suddenly restaurant technology departments are more linked than ever before to operations, marketing and the bottom line. Departmentally, tech teams are tasked with organization-leading missions in a very different way than before. Brands dipping their toes into restaurant tech for the first time might feel the need to get the right people and partners on board or establish a culture of tech progress first.

Beyond getting the right people involved, tech leaders in the restaurant space are thinking ahead. The best among them are adopting a long-term vision for technology, and how these technologies work in concert. For example, we might today want to turn on kiosks, or support a loyalty program. But as we incorporate those technologies into more parts of our business, are we picking platforms that will play well together? Can we expand in synergistic ways? From store design, to app integration, to email campaigns and beyond, all of it must connect together as part of a broader strategic vision. Those brands that don’t think with the future in mind may outgrow their platforms or be outpaced by their competitors.

No matter how a restaurant approaches technology, what keeps customers coming back is decidedly less digital. If we make dinner easier, ordering and pickup more effortless, reordering our favorite meals intuitive, then customers have shown they will reward us with repeat visits. It’s a real shift, for many brands, but the technology choices we are making today are fundamentally important to capturing and retaining the best segments of our business for the future.

We must be able to give customers what they want, by asking hard questions of our own operations. Is it easier for our customers to do business with us than the business down the street? Is it easier to recall my past orders than elsewhere? These things have lasting value in the relationship with the customers, and they are exactly how technology can enable huge paybacks in customer devotion.

A strong digital game can help you know when to reach the right customer with the right message at the right time. It can make the customer experience far more positive. Fundamentally, these life improving measures are what our best technologies are designed to do. It’s easier than ever before to understand our customers, to track what’s going on in our restaurants and with our promotions, easier to know what our clients want next, and which markets to go into. We can see more clearly than ever before. These same technologies, when well-used, are helping our guests to feel more special, more involved, more welcome. Technology is helping guests have a better time in our establishments, to become more loyal evangelists, and ultimately more habitual visitors.

Perse Faily

About the Author:
Since joining Tillster in 2008 as President and Chief Executive Officer, Perse Faily has developed the company’s strategic vision, driven its execution and evangelized the market. Tillster is a provider of online ordering, delivery and kiosk solutions for restaurant brands looking to increase revenue and achieve operational efficiencies. 

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