As restaurants of all stripes are increasingly leaning in to off-prem, including drive-thru, curbside and to-go operations, HT talked with tech executives about the tools operators should use to power even greater efficiencies now and in the future.
Seeking Smart Phone-Based Solutions
“I would like to think beacons and NFC are going to have their day,” says Chris Adams,VP of Strategy, Oracle Food and Beverage.(oracle.com/industries/food-beverage). “However… the one piece of tech people trust is their own phone.” And don’t forget to factor in the trend towards contactless; consumers are increasingly leery of touching tablets, kiosks and tabletop devices in public places, Adams stresses.
“When you have a lot of change it needs to be communicated quickly and effectively. Nothing does this better than digital signage,” said Dave Haynes, founding editor of Sixteen:Nine an online publication that covers all things digital signage, during Samsung V/X Back to Business conference. “Those companies that have already invested in digital signage technology are really, really happy they did so because they had a tool that was ready to go to communicate change.”
With dining rooms closed, customer-facing digital signage is being repurposed in other areas of the restaurant. For example, some QSRs and fast casual brands are moving the digital signage to the back of house to help inform staff about third-party delivery orders, Haynes explained.
Restaurants have been accelerating usage of digital menu boards in the drive-thru and using it in more complex ways to provide visually appealing content, dayparting, limited time offers, personalization and more. Also part of the digital signage movement is the visual order confirmation – it shows you what you ordered, taking mistakes out of the equation, says Jeff Bradbury, Senior Director of Marketing, HughesON.
“Technology is playing a major role in increasing the efficiency of ordering and pickup that takes place outside of a restaurant’s walls … Over the years, the industry has made tremendous efforts to increase order accuracy while improving speed of service in the drive-thru lane, and it is now crucial that restaurant operators gain every advantage possible, both in the lane and at curbside, as outdoor business will continue to increase. Having a place where customers can check-in or order outside gives the kitchen a head start and also reduces the perception of wait time. We’ll also start to see features like geofencing, facial or gesture recognition, and contactless payments incorporated into outdoor ordering solutions to further improve the guest experience,” said Rick Smith, director, business development for self-service and kiosk, Elo.
“There is an increased need for streamlined communication between restaurants and their customers, especially for those adjusting hours, capacity or ramping up takeout operations,” says Tasso Roumeliotis, CEO of Numa.com. “There are tools available today that are improving customer connection with the best conversational messaging experience. Restaurants and consumers are also taking advantage of technology that enables text takeout and curbside pick-up mode, which also means no per-order fee, and makes pickup orders much more efficient and hands-free. …
“Some of the new advancements in technology enable brands to offer a ‘message’ button from within Google Maps and Google Search. Google’s Business Messages … allows restaurants and other businesses to not only further their conversations with customers, but also drive and improve sales, as well as customer loyalty.”