This post was last updated on Jul 24, 2020.
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2018 has been full of changes, especially in the restaurant industry.
From robots flipping burgers to cashless locations, it feels like the future envisioned by The Jetsons has, in many ways, arrived. And, a mere 10 days into the new year, we're already witnessing some impressive restaurant technology innovations bursting on the scene. What could possibly lay waiting for us in the 355 days ahead?
Now in it's third year, we bring you Toast's favorite New Year's tradition: our 2019 restaurant technology predictions.
A mix of insights from the industry and Toast's own leadership team, our 2019 restaurant technology predictions highlight solutions to ongoing operational obstacles in our space – like the crave for convenience and the costliness of human capital – as well as trends we foresee picking up steam in the hospitality sector this year.
Our Experts Weigh in: Where Is Restaurant Technology Headed in 2019?
Restaurant Technology Product Predictions
1. The crave for convenience will continue to mount
Aman Narang, Co-Founder, and President
“The continued increase in expectations of consumers to have faster and more seamless interactions, specifically in the world of quick service restaurants. QSRs will begin to adopt order and pay ahead apps that link directly to the POS. Additionally, this will require more restaurants to consider their physical design. How can they create a space for a smooth pick-up experience as well as an increase in technology to keep foods hot or cold as they await pick-up?"
Related Resource: 3 Restaurant Customer Engagement Mistakes And How to Avoid Them
2. Online ordering will need to optimize for mobile
Chris Comparato, CEO
“Mobile digital ordering will continue to grow at a rapid pace. Consumers will start to prioritize their focus on what works best for them within their market and within their personalized habits. These experiences will become even more personalized, complimenting the choices that we already have to access great food.”
Related Resource: The Restaurant Management Software Ecosystem in 2019
3. Collecting and learning from guest feedback will be paramount
Steve Fredette, Co-founder, and President
“Food tastes will continue to change every day, this means restaurants should prioritize investing feedback mechanisms. Those that don’t have the ability to track if their customers like these changes will be a major disadvantage to more progressive brands who are more in touch with changing customer demand.”
Related Resource: How to Respond to Negative Reviews of Your Restaurant
There's a lot to learn from restaurant trends, including what your customers may be looking for.
4. Robots will make life in the industry easier
Lucy Wang, Senior Product Manager
“In 2019, some of these technologies including AI, Big Data, Predictive Analytics will help us unlock new knowledge about ourselves, our behavioral patterns, and the way we think and connect with one another. They will continue to integrate and help streamline some time-consuming tedious tasks in our lives.”
Related Resource: Everything You Need to Know About AI For Restaurants
5. Guests will engage with each other, not screens
Ellery Fink, Senior Director of Services
“I would love to see a decrease in the use of technology on the part of restaurant patrons in FSR and fine-dining establishments. Encouragement to put down the devices and enjoy your company, the food, and the dining experience.”
Related Resource: 22 Ways to Delight Your Guests in 2019
Restaurant Industry Trend Predictions
1. Labor & human capital will continue to be a hot commodity
Jon Grimm, CTO
“Restaurants will need to continue to innovate to retain talent or to reduce their labor needs. Self-service technology like digital ordering and kiosks can help reduce labor needs. Wage increases to attract talent will bring the need for more efficiency throughout the restaurant to maintain margins.”
Related Resource: How to Stay Above Water During The Restaurant Industry Labor Shortage
2. The 'Continued Service Model' will streamline the guest experience
Kevin Hamilton, SVP Marketing
“Fast Casual concepts, especially those with beverage programs, live and die based on their ability to serve that second drink or transact the 2nd order like dessert. With the adoption of handheld technology designed for restaurants, the Continued Service Model will enable Fast Casual concepts to increase second order volume through roving staff while maintaining flat operational expenses.”
3. Restaurants will need to navigate a chilled global trading environment
Brian Elworthy, General Counsel
“I think that navigating a potentially chilled global trading environment (with the threat of tariffs and tensions with China- a source of significant technology manufacturing) will cause many companies to assess their procurement plans and devise alternatives if/when it becomes cost prohibitive to source from China.”
Related Resource: How to Calculate Inventory Turnover Ratio In Your Restaurant
Industry-Wide Predictions About Restaurant Tech (And Trends) in 2019
1. Restaurant Technology Innovations & Advancements
- Nation’s Restaurant News, 3 Restaurant Tech Predictions 2019
“Consolidation will continue in the hyper-competitive third-party delivery space. Market leaders such as GrubHub, Postmates, Uber Eats, and DoorDash will battle for domination. A differentiator in the space will be those that can add delivery through drones. Uber is already on the move, allegedly designing a drone delivery system called UberExpress that could be operational by 2021, according to a recent report by the Wall Street Journal.”
- Forbes, Top Food Technology Trends You Will See In 2019
“The number of ghost restaurants, also known as delivery-only restaurants, will continue to increase in 2019. These establishments exist only to cook and deliver food to customers who place online orders. Although you cannot pick up orders directly because there are no storefronts, consumer demand heavily influences ghost restaurants. As customers ask for faster deliveries, these businesses will turn to more automation and robots for efficiency. Changes will include robots that flip burgers and manage the grill to AI programs that decide which part of the meal to cook first and automatically reorder ingredients.”
2. Food & Beverage Trends
- Food&Wine, These Will Be the 11 Biggest Restaurant Trends of 2019, According to Chefs
“People want to know more and more about where their food is coming from. They don't want to ignore what they’re eating anymore, which forces chefs to take a closer look at sourcing. – Jean Imbert, executive chef at L’Acajou and Swan and Bar Bevy”
- Business Insider, These 10 trends will decide how we eat in 2019, according to Whole Foods
“Produce departments are encouraging customers to bring their own bags, chains are banning straws, and single-use packaging is on its way out.‘Some movements start as trends, then become necessities,’ Whole Foods writes. ‘This is one of them.’”