New Restaurant Technologies for 2023
Keeping up with the ever-changing technology for your restaurant can be tough. But those who adapt and adopt new tech can see great success through shorter wait times, improved customer service, seamless integration across your technology, and more.
DISCLAIMER: This content is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended as legal, accounting, tax, HR, or other professional advice. You are responsible for your own compliance with laws and regulations. You should contact your attorney or other relevant advisor for advice specific to your circumstances.
COVID-19 has dramatically changed the restaurant industry. Technology became increasingly important as we all adapted to social distancing, adding take-out and delivery, and reducing contact between guests and servers wherever possible.
While the past few years have been challenging, the experience encouraged many restaurants to take a leap and try new technologies in their restaurants that they may not have otherwise. Those that adapted to the “new normal” were able to get through — and in some cases, grow — expanding their business models, continuing to welcome guests and retain their employees. And in 2023, many restaurants are finding the technology they adapted to be indispensable for today’s reality and in preparing for the future.
Seven types of new restaurant technology
It can be hard to sort through all the restaurant technologies on the market today and keep up with new restaurant technology trends. We’ve summarized the top seven types of new restaurant technologies that we see successful restaurants using in 2023. We’ll walk you through what each technology is, what value it delivers to restaurants, and some key considerations when choosing technology for your restaurant.
Cloud-based POS system
There's a theme among the best technology: seamless integration. Your restaurant doesn’t need a bunch of different types of tech that don’t communicate. Each aspect of these technologies should work better together, creating a seamless restaurant operations experience and a platform that streamlines and optimizes your business. This all starts with a strong POS: a point-of-sale system that manages orders, sales, and payments all in one place with powerful cloud-based software.
When deciding on a cloud-based POS, here are a few things to consider:
- Seamless communication: Your POS is the center of your technology suite, and needs to work with every other piece to create the most seamless, integrated experience. Exporting excel sheets from a dozen different places should largely be a thing of the past.
- Analytics and reporting: A robust cloud-based reporting and analytics center allows you to look at your restaurant’s performance anywhere, anytime.
- Streamlined operations: A fully functional cloud-based system means that you can manage your restaurant operations anywhere, across multiple locations. An all-in-one platform can provide you with all of the pieces to successfully power your business.
Restaurant QR code ordering system
Restaurant QR code ordering systems, sometimes known as Order and Pay at the Table, allow guests to place orders and pay at the table from their own device, without needing to touch menus, checks, or pens. During COVID-19, the contactless nature of this technology increased its popularity, but restaurants are keeping this option due to increased efficiencies and its ability to collect guest data with each transaction. In fact, 67% of guests said that alternative payment methods like contactless payment and pay at the table technology would be important to their dining experiences during and after the COVID-19 pandemic
Restaurants are also struggling to staff back up, or they’re seeing an influx in staff calling out due to the Omicron spike, causing staffing shortages in many restaurants. Order and Pay at the Table can free up staff from administrative tasks like swiping credit cards and closing checks, allowing them to cover more tables and focus on providing hospitality. Restaurants that implement these new technologies with QR code ordering reduce table turn times, since guests have everything they need at their fingertips to order another round or close out a check.
When adding a QR code ordering system, here are some things to consider:
- Integrated into point-of-sale: QR Code Ordering Systems integrated into your point-of-sale (POS) system fire orders directly into the kitchen, allow you to view all your sales in your POS, and give the server the flexibility to add items or adjust tickets in the POS as needed, providing flexible service that’s a collaboration between the guest and the server.
- Pre-Authorize Payment: QR Code Ordering Systems that have pre-authorized payments built-in allow guests to “open a tab,” add items to the tab, and automatically close out. This reduces the risk of walkouts and simplifies the payment process to be a single transaction at the end of the meal, rather than multiple transactions with some products that weren’t built for order and pay at the table.
- Collect Guest Data: QR Code Ordering Systems can allow you to tie every transaction to a guest name and email address, building your customer database and allowing you to know and connect with your customers, even if they dine in.
Restaurant online ordering technology
Online ordering has been a lifeline for so many restaurants throughout the past year. A strong online ordering system is essential to creating that digital connection between your guests and your restaurant and adding a new revenue stream for your business.
There are two types of online ordering that guests can use: first-party and third-party. First-party is done directly through your restaurant while third-party is through an outside provider. Through your restaurant, you can create a customized online ordering system that is optimized for your menu, concept, and brand. This puts you in control; you have full access to all guest data, are able to communicate first-hand with customers, and ensure that everything is running smoothly across the board.
Third-party online ordering is done through an outside provider, like DoorDash, UberEats, or Grubhub. These third-party solutions have pros: you gain exposure to a wider audience, and these platforms offer their own delivery capabilities. But this comes at a cost: typically between 15-30% paid out in commissions, per order.
When deciding on an online ordering system, here are a few things to consider:
- Minimum commission fees: You want to keep as much money in your pocket as possible. Online ordering systems like Toast’s don’t charge any commissions or hidden fees, meaning you’ll have more money to devote to growing your business.
- POS integration: A direct integration with your POS makes it easier to manage your menu, eliminate any errors or double entry, and keep track of your customer data, all in one place.
- Delivery capabilities: Integrated delivery with no hidden fees is key to having a successful online ordering platform. Toast customers using Toast Delivery Services pay less than 4% per order* vs. up to 30% commission through 3rd party delivery providers.
Restaurant CRM system
Your restaurant’s customer experience is everything when it comes to driving repeat business, and a customer relationship management tool, also known as a CRM system, can help. These platforms are meant to cultivate customer relationships and drive repeat orders. Essentially, CRM systems keep track of customer data. This data can include email addresses, phone numbers, order history and preferences, dietary restrictions, birthdays and other special occasions, and more.
This data is important. It helps you customize your guest’s experiences, leading to increased engagement and retention. This information allows you to send personalized emails, understand customer ordering patterns and tailor communications, customize your loyalty program to include birthday and anniversary discounts, and much, much more.
When deciding on a CRM system, here are a few things to consider:
- Data management: A great CRM should seamlessly track and organize guest data. This includes customer ordering information via digital receipts and online ordering, any rewards or gift card activity, and contact information. With the ability to view this information and identify your most loyal customers, you will be able to build a marketing plan that best serves your customers.
- POS integration: A direct integration with your POS is essential to gather guest information. This allows your CRM to grab information from sales reports and other metrics to provide the best overall picture.
- Email and loyalty: Your CRM platform should directly connect to your email marketing and loyalty programs. Email and loyalty are where your data is the most valuable, so make sure to take advantage of all that it can do for your business.
Restaurant inventory technology
Tracking inventory measures restaurant profitability and prevents unnecessary food waste. Successful inventory management means that you know exactly what supplies are coming into your restaurant, what is being used, and what you have left. These metrics are key for calculating how much money you’re bringing in with that inventory, and how to optimize your menu to increase profits and reduce waste.
Though this can be done manually with par inventory sheets, the process is time-consuming and isn’t the most effective way to calculate costs. Restaurant inventory technology makes this process a lot easier. The right inventory management technology will track waste, take into account variance and COGS, and streamline kitchen operations.
When deciding on an inventory system, here are a few things to consider:
- Waste tracking: Waste tracking looks out for over-portioning, over-buying, and theft. A great inventory management system should provide tools to flag and prevent waste.
- Data reporting: Food cost percentage is essential to running a profitable restaurant business. Your inventory management system should analyze your food cost percentage and figure out how your performance compares as well.
- Menu engineering: With easy tracking, you’ll be able to see what menu items sell well, which are underperforming, and run experiments to improve menu profitability.
Restaurant payroll technology
Payroll isn’t the most exciting part of running a restaurant, but a great payroll processing system can make it so much easier. Payroll refers to the full process of paying employees, including wages, tips, taxes, and overtime. The payroll set-up process for employees can be tedious and, for many restaurants, figuring out paychecks each week is time-consuming and frustrating.
A great payroll processing system will take away all of the frustrations. An automated, dynamic, and centralized payroll technology platform will track hours and labor costs, keep you up to date on changing laws and regulations, and keep all timesheets, taxes, and tips all in one place with centralized spreadsheets.
When deciding on a payroll system, here are a few things to consider:
- POS integration: By integrating your payroll and point-of-sale systems, the two can work together to make payroll faster and smoother. This type of integration helps you focus your saved time on your restaurant, and it’ll streamline your systems to manage blended overtime and multi-location setup from one platform.
- Integrated team management: A good digital onboarding workflow for new hires saves you from manual, time-consuming processes while consolidating the paperwork into one location. This means tech training is easy and you can get employees hired and onboarded (or re-hired post-COVID-19), as quickly as possible. This makes it easier for employees to access their schedules and get paid.
- Legal compliance: State and federal requirements can be difficult to keep up with. Having an HR expert and resources on hand makes the process much easier and saves you time.
Handheld POS system
The best technology should allow you to work smarter, not harder. The time it takes walking back and forth to a terminal not only wastes servers’ time but also means that food is taking longer to be sent to the kitchen and customers are waiting longer to enjoy their meals. And, at the end of the meal, the back and forth with the check becomes one simple step with a handheld.
Whether it’s by getting to tables faster and offering pay at the table or getting out from behind the counter and busting lines during busy hours in a quick-service setting, these systems work.
When deciding on a handheld POS, here are a few things to consider:
- Contactless payment: Contactless payment right at the table is a huge perk of handheld POS systems. Make sure that your handheld can take NFC and digital wallet payments, to make it easy and safe for your guests to pay.
- Technology integrations: Seamless communication between your handheld, POS terminal, kitchen display system, and online ordering is key to keeping orders coming in and everything running smoothly.
- Durability: Foodservice can be messy. Make sure your handheld is built to hold up in a restaurant environment and protected from drops, spills, and dust.
Having the right technology is key to running a restaurant
But the best technology will run your restaurant efficiently with powerful cloud-based software, integrated payroll, CRM, inventory, online ordering, and more all in one place. A simplified, integrated technology stack saves you time, ensures accuracy across your entire restaurant, and provides the best experience for your guests.
*No upfront costs. Delivery fees are assessed on a per-use basis. Must maintain an active Toast subscription plan to be eligible for Toast Delivery Services
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