The Top 12 Restaurant Food and Tech Predictions for 2018

By: Karen DeVincent-Reinbold

6 Minute Read

Jan 23, 2018

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2018 restaurant tech predictions

Last year, we premiered our very first tech predictions blog. You loved it so much that we brought it back in 2018!

Below are some bold restaurant predictions from Toast's leadership team. Plus, we pulled some of the top food and technology predictions to give a sense of where the market is heading in the next 12 months.

Download the Restaurant Technology Report to read about 2017 trends and what's new for 2018.

Our Experts’ Takes on 2018 Restaurant Technology

pos technology

1) Food Delivery Services Will Become a Focus of Discussion

Aman Narang, President and Co-Founder

“The market will form a point of view on third-party delivery; there is growth with third-party delivery services. Restaurants support them, but they are very pricey; it's a catch 22. If you do, you miss out on demand, but if you don't, you can lose out. There is friction here.”

brook-stevens-white-background.jpg2) Restaurant Innovation will be the New Norm

Brook Stevens, Director of Engineering

“While the POS will remain the central hub for operations in restaurants, we will see increased demand for innovative products that work together seamlessly as restaurant technology shifts from an early adopter into the early majority segments of the technology adoption lifecycle.”

technology in restaurants

3) Restaurant Mobility to Become More Prevalent

Chris Comparato, CEO

“I think the mobility of a restaurant itself will pick up momentum, whether in the form of a pop-up restaurant, a small quick storefront served by a commissary (or within corporations), or kiosk-oriented concepts with high-quality grab-and-go food. Healthy, convenient food is what’s in store for 2018.”

cmiller copy.png

4) Customization is Becoming Key

Colleen Miller, Senior Director- Product & UX

“Today's consumers enjoy customized experiences and personalized recommendations. Restaurants will use data more and more to deliver those experiences, along with proximity marketing methods to drive traffic into the store.”

restaurant apps

5) More Robotic Restaurants?

Steve Fredette, President and Co-Founder

“You’ll see more robot restaurants opening in 2018 than last year. There will be a lot of Alexa food skills; one of the big chains will roll out automated voice ordering at the drive through; Panera will add a button for one-tap ordering to their app, much to my delight and every other user.”

technology trends in restaurant industry

6) Facial Recognition Will Debut in Restaurants

Yi Chen, VP of Product

Facial recognition technology will help restaurateurs track repeat customers and allow servers to remember guests and to create delightful guest experiences.”

2018 Restaurant Food Predictions

1) Easier Grocery Shopping From Home

Forbes, 10 Food Trends That Will Shape 2018

“Technofoodology and Artificial Intelligence are the best things to ever happen to a grocery store. Alexa, Google Home, Sonos, and other home-based assistants are ushering in a new way to buy our foods. We can easily replenish our foods by asking Alexa to reorder from Amazon. And just last week, one of the nation’s leading c-stores, Sheetz, announced that its “made to order foods” from all 564 stores can be ordered on Alexa. By 2020, there will be 55 million smart devices in our homes, making that the biggest supermarket chain on the planet."

2) Fine Casual Shows Up to the Party

NRN, 15 Food and Beverage Trends to Expect in 2018

“Fine-casual. Coined by Danny Meyer to describe Shake Shack, AF&Co., says, ‘Think upscale counter-service — and even table service — with curated ingredients and unexpected touches like a wine bar and optional tasting menu.’”

3) Food Sourcing and Labeling Will Matter More

Whole Foods Blog, Whole Foods Market Reveals Top Food Trends for 2018

“Transparency 2.0: More is more when it comes to product labeling. Consumers want to know the real story behind their food, and how that item made its way from the source to the store. GMO transparency is top-of-mind, but shoppers seek out other details, too, such as Fair Trade certification, responsible production and animal welfare standards. At Whole Foods Market, this plays out in several ways, starting with these three happening in 2018:

  1. In January 2018, all canned tuna in our stores will come from sustainable one-by-one catch methods;
  2. In September 2018, labels will provide GMO transparency on all food items in stores;
  3. Dishes from Whole Foods Market food bars and venues are now labeled with calorie information.”

Can’t get enough food trends? Eater rounded up what looks like every single 2018 prediction, here.

2018 Restaurant Technology Predictions

Like any industry, advancements in the restaurant world are contingent on the changes the rest of the world has seen. Restaurant kiosks, for example, could not be engineered in their current state until the proper touchscreen technology was invented.

In that light, we think it's important to highlight general technology trends for the upcoming year so you can know how this may affect your business in the future.

1) Drones Take Flight, Self-Driving Cars Speed Up

Business Insider, 35 Big Tech Predictions for 2018

“BI Intelligence, Business Insider's premium research service, has put together a list of 35 Big Tech Predictions for 2018 across Apps and Platforms, Digital Media, Payments, Internet of Things, E-Commerce, Fintech, and Transportation & Logistics. Some of these major predictions include:

  • Cryptocurrencies will become more widely accepted
  • Google and Apple will challenge Amazon in the smart speaker space
  • The resurgence of the VR market
  • The real self-driving car race will begin
  • Drone regulations will relax
  • Alibaba’s international expansion
  • Gen Z will become a major focal point for media companies and advertisers
  • Payment security will become paramount
  • Smart home devices will take off”

2) Smart Everything? Maybe Not.

Seeking Alpha, Top Tech Predictions For 2018

Connecting all kinds of devices together using simple internet protocol connectivity standards was supposed to enable smart cities, smart homes, smart factories, heck, pretty much smart everything. And yet, here we stand at the dawn of 2018 and – with a few notable exceptions – very few of those things have really come to pass. In retrospect, it's not really hard to see why. Just connecting things together doesn't necessarily provide any real value, and even tapping into the new data sources enabled by IoT hasn't proven to be as fruitful as many had hoped.”

3) Serverless Computing

Network World, Tech Predictions for 2018

Serverless computing takes off. This one is easy to make. It’s bubbling like a cauldron with tremendous interest, and development is racing along. Once people get past the misleading name and realize its benefits, it will take off.”

Is your restaurant ready for 2018?
Download the Restaurant Technology Report to see what 1,200+ restaurant goers want this year.

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