The restaurant industry has always been ever-changing to adapt to new customer needs, but it changes more rapidly now more than ever. With emphasis on expediency and convenience, the past few years have seen increasing ubiquity of third-party delivery services, curbside pickup and more.
But what’s next for the industry in 2022? Here we’ll go over some restaurant technology trends that are quickly picking up steam.
1. Online Ordering & Delivery Automation
One of the most booming trends since the beginning of 2020 has been the prevalence of third-party delivery apps and online ordering (whether for delivery or for curbside pickup). Although it’s a relatively new trend, there’s no doubt that such convenience is here to stay and is continuing to grow even more. According to recent statistics, the food delivery market is worth over $150 billion on a global scale, tripling since the year 2017. Delivery used to be nearly exclusive to pizza and Chinese food in the US, but nowadays nearly every type of restaurant is able to take advantage of online ordering and delivery services.
Up until now, food delivery has been handled by people, but some companies are starting to test out automated food delivery via driverless cars. Google, Amazon, and Uber have already been testing out drone delivery applications, while companies such as Domino’s have already successfully tested self-driving car food delivery in select cities. While such implementation is not yet widespread, it is surely on the horizon and no longer a sci-fi fantasy.
Despite the fact that this online delivery continues to grow, it’s important to note that such third-party apps may not be in your best interest. In this comprehensive piece, we detail both the pros and cons of delivery services. Check it out to make an informed decision when it comes to your business.
2. Contactless Payment
Placing an online order offers opportunity for contactless payment methods, but in-store contactless payments have also been trending upward. Whether it’s with your phone, smartwatch, contactless card or other touchless device, services such as Google Pay and Apple Pay have become a mainstay in every type of retail. Research estimates that the contactless payment industry as a whole will triple to $6 trillion worldwide by the year 2024 and that over half of all point-of-sale transactions will be contactless within five years.
However, there has been some hesitancy from some to adopt these methods, mainly due to myths surrounding security issues. But in reality, contactless payment cards are quite secure:
- It’s not possible to use long-range radio-frequency identification (RFID) readers to access card data from a distance.
- You cannot clone a contactless card using an NFC reader. NFC stands for near-field communication, which allows two electronic devices to communicate with each other when 1.5 inches from each other. This technology is often used in keycard readers, but has been utilized by contactless payment as well.
- Most cards come with a limit of how many transactions can happen in a row, meaning even if it were to be stolen, there are fraud mitigation measures in place.
3. Automated Reservations & Table Management
Through apps such as OpenTable, customers are able to make restaurant reservations online while on-the-go. Such systems have also proven to be of great benefit to the restaurant. Not only can you save an employee from answering phone calls, you can also manage waitlists, notifications and more all in one centralized system.
4. Virtual Kitchens & Ghost Kitchens
Ghost kitchens are restaurants that only offer carryout or delivery. The facility is generally unbranded, but provides all the equipment and cookware expected from a normal restaurant kitchen. The seating area and waitstaff is replaced with delivery drivers and a carryout counter. The space is also often used by a number of different restaurants — think of it as a coworking space for cooks. This has a number of benefits for restaurant owners:
- Low overhead costs, which allow new restaurateurs to “test drive” their ideas
- Easily test a variety of menu items in new markets
- Growth potential
- Expanded delivery area
While virtual kitchens are similar to ghost kitchens, they are not actually the same thing. A virtual kitchen is a branded, delivery/carryout-only satellite location that does not share its space with other cooks. So, while a ghost kitchen acts as a cooking space available to anybody for rent, a virtual kitchen is an extension of an already existing restaurant that does delivery/carry-out/catering only. But many people use the terms ‘ghost kitchen’ and ‘virtual kitchen’ interchangeably, so the waters can get a little muddied.
Society is Here to Protect Your Business
At Society Insurance, we stay on top of restaurant trends and offer restaurant & bar insurance policies tailored to your business’ needs. To find out more, get in touch with your local Society agent.