2022 was a year for the history books. With the pandemic bringing the restaurant industry to a standstill, businesses had to quickly figure out how to keep operations running and customers coming back. Fortunately, technology came to the rescue, and restaurant owners embraced new ways of doing business.
2023 is set to be an exciting year for the industry. This year, the focus will be on continuing to use technology to improve customer experience, reduce human contact, and increase efficiency.
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And indeed, the restaurant industry is poised for big changes that can potentially change the landscape even more. Restaurants of all sizes are embracing the latest technology trends to enhance their operations and remain competitive. Things are moving fast, and it’s critical to be in the know so that you won’t be left behind by the times.
Here are the top restaurant technology trends to watch in 2023!
1. Restaurant-owned apps and websites
The past few years have seen an exponential rise in the use of social media and third-party food-ordering apps.
According to research, the online food ordering industry has grown by 300% since 2014. Now, online orders comprise 40% of all restaurant sales.
The food delivery industry has also seen a rise of 204% in the past five years, with its overall revenue increasing by 17% from 2019 to 2020 alone.
2020 was when the COVID-19 pandemic hit the world by storm, bringing the global economy to its knees and forcing many countries to go into lockdown.
Many restaurants were ill-prepared to accommodate massive volumes of online orders and had to turn to third-party apps in order to do so.
However, this year, restaurants are beginning to fight back and reclaim control of their business by introducing technology that allows them to take orders directly from their own website or app.
This will not only allow restaurants to get more data on orders and customer preferences but also enable them to keep a larger portion of the profits.
2. New loyalty programs
Loyalty programs are a great way to attract and retain customers, and they’re anticipated to be the next big thing this 2023.
These programs allow customers to collect points with each purchase, which can then be redeemed for discounts and exclusive offers.
By creating a loyalty program, restaurants can reward their most loyal customers and encourage them to return again and again.
What’s more, many restaurants now offer loyalty programs in a mobile app format. This allows customers to easily check their rewards and redeem them on the go.
Loyalty programs are also more favorable to customers for combatting a persistent and painful economic issue: inflation. High prices are seeing 73% of American households cut back on restaurant or takeout purchases, among other big-ticket items.
In this kind of environment, astute brands can position loyalty programs for customers to hedge against inflation. With loyalty programs, customers can use accumulated points in lieu of cash purchases, bring back price stability in their purchases (using points to offset higher costs), and build relationships with the brands of their choosing, among others.
3. Fully automated kitchens
2022 marked the opening of the first ever fully automated McDonald’s in Texas – but that’s just the start. Other initiatives, such as the Whitecastle service robot called Flippy, are also gaining momentum.
Automation is the name of the game in the restaurant industry. With new technology becoming more accessible and widespread, nothing’s stopping restaurants (especially QSRs) from operating mostly using robots and automated software.
This technology is poised to introduce many potential benefits to the industry as a whole, such as the following points.
- Reduced labor costs. Automation can potentially reduce or even eliminate the need for manual labor, which can help lower restaurant labor costs.
- Increased efficiency. Automation streamlines tasks and processes, reducing the time and effort needed to complete them. This allows restaurant staff to focus on more important tasks – or even eliminate the need for them.
- More consistent product output. Automated systems can help ensure that dishes are prepared and cooked consistently, which can be particularly important in fast food or other types of restaurants that rely on standardized recipes.
- Improved customer satisfaction. Automation can help improve the speed and accuracy of food preparation and delivery, leading to higher levels of customer satisfaction.
- Enhanced workplace safety. With technology handling most of the tasks that involve equipment and hazards, automation helps minimize the risks of accidents and injuries in the kitchen.
While automation does present many appealing benefits for restaurants of all kinds, the situation on the ground isn’t as solidified.
McDonald’s latest venture, for instance, has left fans feeling conflicting emotions, with some uneasy about the robotic nature of the trial concept and others concerned that automation could cause job losses.
Regardless of pushback, it’s undeniable that fully automated kitchens have a foot in the door – making it a restaurant technology trend that you should keep an eye on this 2023.
4. New labor and supply strategies
The Great Resignation of the past few years has ripped through the restaurant industry, primarily because it highlighted underlying issues that the industry has with its labor force.
Now the worst of it has passed, restaurants are looking for better ways to manage their labor and supplies.
One of the emerging strategies is to take a more holistic approach when it comes to labor management. Instead of relying solely on manual time-tracking systems, restaurant owners are turning to technology to help them track and manage their labor costs more effectively.
Additionally, employers are beginning to see the benefits of introducing more perks to their potential employees. This includes better hours, sign-up bonuses, and other incentives that can attract more talent and help them retain their current staff.
On the supply side, there are new management strategies that can better protect your establishment from large-scale market upsets, such as closures due to the pandemic, the short supply of labor, and the supply line problems that have plagued the industry these past few months.
For example, restaurant owners can implement the following.
- Offering a range of menu options. Having a diverse menu that caters to different dietary needs and preferences can help to attract a wider range of customers and make the restaurant more flexible in terms of what it can offer.
- Using restaurant technology to improve efficiency. Implementing technology, such as automated ordering systems or AI-powered surveillance systems, can help streamline operations and make your restaurant more efficient.
- Fostering a culture of innovation. Encouraging employees to come up with new ideas and approaches to running the restaurant will keep the business fresh and adaptable.
- Being open to change. Flexibility and adaptability often require a willingness to change, so restaurant management needs to be open to new ideas and approaches.
- Diversifying revenue streams. Restaurants need to think outside the box when it comes to generating revenue. This can include offering catering services, developing subscription models, or launching new delivery services.
5. Technology fees
The food service industry hasn’t always been at the forefront of innovation, but that’s beginning to change with the recent boom of digitization in this industry.
This is evident not just in the emergence of apps that allow customers to enjoy a full range of services without leaving their homes but also in the very nature of how food is sourced and prepared in the first place.
Restaurant owners are now realizing the potential of technology to improve their bottom line and customer experience, making it an essential part of running a successful business.
However, that technology comes at a cost – and restaurants may soon be required to pay fees for using technology in their operations, such as payment processing fees, software subscription fees, and hardware rental fees.
According to a 2019 analysis by the International Franchise Association, 61.9% of all franchisors to QSRs now collect technology fees in addition to their regular rates. This is to fund the discovery and improvement of restaurant service technology.
According to that analysis, the median tech fee for Quick Service Restaurants rested at $2,014 yearly (with a range of $1,200 to $3,990), which translates to $168 monthly.
The good news is that technology fees can be offset in other areas of the business due to the efficiency they can bring. Restaurants may be able to reduce staffing costs due to automation or save money on supplies by using advanced inventory tracking systems, such as Glimpse.
6. More resilient supply chains
Making your supply chain more resilient not only helps minimize the disruptive consequences of various situations but also safeguards against price changes or product shortages. With this, your customers can continue to receive satisfactory service every time they visit your establishment.
This is especially important in times of crisis or disruption. One example is the recent pandemic, where restaurants and bars had to find creative ways to optimize food and beverage costs and reduce their overhead just to stay afloat.
Technology has been instrumental in helping businesses achieve this goal. By leveraging predictive analytics, AI, and real-time data tracking, restaurant owners can identify potential disruptions early on and proactively mitigate the risk. Any data gathered can also be used to optimize resources and streamline processes, resulting in a more efficient operation overall.
Due to this, we’re more likely to see it become a major trend for restaurants in 2023.
Ultimately, by investing in a more resilient supply chain, restaurants can become more sustainable and better equipped to weather any challenges that may come their way.
7. Market consolidation
The restaurant industry is constantly evolving, and technology has been accelerating the rate of change for years now.
As more restaurants embrace technology and consolidate their operations, the industry is becoming increasingly consolidated. This means that larger companies are buying up smaller ones, allowing them to expand their reach and consolidate resources more efficiently.
Examples include restaurant technology provider PAR Technology’s acquisition of digital ordering brand MENU Technologies and e-commerce provider Square’s acquisition of GoParrot, a digital customer engagement company.
The next few years will continue this trend of big-ticket market acquisitions in the restaurant industry, especially on the technology side.
With brands having more freedom to provide a variety of services, restaurants are eager to draw away customers from third-party service providers and instead attract them with in-house options. This would allow them to capture even more value and expand their customer base.
As 2023 draws nearer, it will be interesting to see how market consolidation continues to shape the restaurant industry landscape.
8. Sustainability and food loss avoidance
This is why more and more business owners are investing in food loss avoidance techniques and sustainable practices to help lower costs while maintaining good nutrition and food safety standards.
On September 29, 2022, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations observed the 3rd International Day of Food and Loss Waste. This signifies the mounting momentum of practicing environmental sustainability and social responsibility, especially in the hospitality sector.
According to the FAO briefer, around 14% of the world’s food supply is simply lost after harvest, and 17% is further lost in the retail and consumption phases.
Food loss indirectly contributes to worldwide problems of food shortages, which has only worsened since the pandemic began – and is now further driven to the ground by the global pandemic’s aftershocks, such as supply chain issues, inflation, and geopolitical instability.
Not to mention, food loss contributes significantly to greenhouse gas emissions and environmental degradation. That’s not to mention all the other types of emissions that the food service industry regularly produces, which are estimated to be equal to about 40% of global emissions.
This 2023, expect to see more restaurants committing themselves further to sustainable practices. From strengthening traceability systems to implementing digital food temperature monitoring devices, restaurants are beginning to recognize the importance of ensuring proper food management and safety.
In addition, more restaurants and bars are investing in sustainable packaging solutions and adopting general waste-reduction methods to help minimize the environmental impact of their operations.
It’s clear: 2023 won’t just be about cutting costs and maximizing profits but also implementing meaningful sustainability initiatives that could help lessen the industry’s environmental footprint and improve its social responsibility.
Creating a More Sustainable and Future-Proof Establishment
It’s clear that technology will play a major role in the future of restaurants and how they are run.
We’re already seeing significant shifts in surface-level trends, such as contactless ordering and payment, mobile loyalty programs, delivery optimization, and data-driven insights.
But the true innovators in this space are those looking ahead and preparing for the future by investing in long-term technologies.
Here’s how your restaurant can get a head start:
- Invest in new technology. Check out software that can help you remain flexible and future-proof, such as cloud-based software solutions.
- Consciously manage your food waste. You can use plenty of methods to minimize food waste and ensure sustainability, such as serving precise portions, offering smaller portions as an option, and composting or donating excess food.
- Use energy-efficient equipment. Choosing energy-efficient equipment and appliances can reduce a restaurant’s energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.
- Seek out sustainable materials. Restaurants can use recycled materials, compostable containers, and biodegradable packaging to reduce their environmental impact.
- Source ingredients locally and sustainably. Buying locally grown and produced ingredients can reduce the carbon emissions associated with transportation, and supporting sustainable farming practices can help protect the environment.
- Implement efficient water consumption policies. Installing low-flow toilets, faucets, and other water-saving devices can help reduce water use and save money on utility bills.
- Encourage customers to reduce their environmental impact. Restaurants can educate their customers about eco-friendly practices and offer incentives for customers who bring their reusable containers or use public transportation to visit the restaurant.
While the primary benefit of these initiatives is to do your part to minimize carbon emissions and help secure our future, it’s not limited to that.
Studies have shown that businesses that care about social causes, such as the environment, typically enjoy extra benefits like better brand loyalty, government incentives, and more.
The Top 8 Restaurant Technology Trends to Watch Out For This 2023
The restaurant industry is on the cusp of some sweeping changes. With the proliferation of advanced restaurant technology, such as automation and SaaS-based management systems, the industry has a revolution waiting to happen in the next few years.
Only restaurant owners who embrace the latest restaurant technology trends in 2023 will be well-positioned to succeed no matter what disruptions or changes the industry faces.
However, there is one thing that will remain important no matter what: security.
Glimpse is a timeless solution for all your restaurant security concerns. With its AI-powered imaging capabilities, you can keep an eye on your bar, protect your establishment from theft, and even track your inventory, all without breaking a sweat. Try out our demo now!