All the Ways Restaurant Technology Has Evolved in 2017

By: Karen DeVincent-Reinbold

5 Minute Read

Dec 05, 2017

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restaurant trends

We’re officially in the thick of the gorgeous fall season.

For most of the country, this means cool, crisp mornings, football, and all-things pumpkin. It also means the day we have all been waiting for – a day of celebration, candy, and almost always a little beer, is near: the launch of the annual Toast Restaurant Technology Report.

Wait, did you think I meant Halloween?

Read the Restaurant Technology in 2017 Industry Report

On October 30, the third annual report will unveil a slew of restaurant technology-centric data points and insights.

What we’re particularly excited about this year is that the report will cover both restaurant and diner perspectives, not just one or the other, as in past years.

What this means is you can compare your restaurant's business decisions to your competitors' actions and your guest preferences. All of this information is available for free in the 2017 Toast Restaurant Technology Report.

To help hold you over until the launch, here’s a look back at some of the top findings from past reports and what you can expect from this year's release.

Previously, in the Toast Restaurant Tech Report...

What's Up With Restaurants? (2015)

It's been two years since we formally checked in with restaurants about their technology. We sought to learn:

  1. What kind of technology restaurants use
  2. What kind of technology restaurants will invest in
  3. How often restaurants examined sales and important data

Upgrading Restaurant Technology

restaurant technology trends

The report, launched in October of 2015, revealed that 73 percent of restaurants planned to upgrade their technology within one year of taking the survey. This includes management software and point of sale (POS) systems. 52 percent of restaurateurs said "advanced functionality" and "ease of use" were their top reasons for replacing their existing method or software

Back in 2015, the top features restaurateurs looked for in a POS upgrade were: inventory management (20 percent), online ordering (13 percent) and PCI compliance (9 percent).

Sales and Reporting

Two years ago, it was found that just 46 percent of restaurateurs looked at their business reports and sales metrics every day, meaning less than a half of restaurateurs are actively looking at their important numbers on a daily basis.

What Do Customers Want? (2016)

Last year, we flipped the script and asked restaurant-goers how technology shaped their dining experience for the 2016 Restaurant Technology Report.

In the age of readily-available, user-friendly technology, diners' opinions on restaurant technology were largely positive.

Technology for Diners

Online ordering, mobile tablets, credit cards, loyalty software...I could go on and on. Sometimes it seems like there's too much technology.

However, your guests would likely disagree with you. In 2016, four out of five diners (79 percent) diners agreed that restaurant technology improves their guest experience.

Online and Mobile Ordering

opinions on restaurant technology

Diners also appreciate the benefits and efficiency of mobile devices in the restaurant experience.

Last year, it was found that 57 percent of diners ordered from a restaurant's website online daily, weekly, or monthly, while 68 percent agreed that server handheld tablets improve their guest experience.

Furthermore, diners appreciated ordering from web-based devices and when their servers use them, but they weren't too enthusiastic about mobile pay. More than half never paid with mobile payments such as Apple Pay, Level Up, or Samsung Pay.

Have any of these numbers shifted? You'll have to read this year's Tech Report to see for yourself.

Exclusive Findings: Restaurant Technology in 2017

Looking for newer information? You can read some of the highlights below or download the full report here

Here's the key takeaway: restaurant technology not only improves the restaurant experience, but it also shows trends around the industry embracing restaurant technology more than ever.

Rising in Popularity: Server Handheld Tablets

This recent article in Eater shares how tools like tabletop tablets help improve the customer experience so much that servers see increased tips with tablets:

In fact, tips have stayed steady or even increased, thanks to the ease of tipping via tablet: Diners can typically tap just one button to automatically apply a tip of the industry standard 20 percent, which is easier than manually entering a smaller tip. Tips are likely also higher thanks to diners’ increased satisfaction with service — e.g., their ability to pay their check rather than having to wait around for the tab.”

Dropping in Popularity: Cash Payments 

tech trends in restaurants

We’re also seeing growing trends in cash versus credit preferences.

Despite quite a few recent, very public hacks, cash isn’t still necessarily king anymore. Don’t agree? This helpful article from The Motley Fool lays out an argument for why consumers do (or should) use credit over cash, hinting at an emergence of cashless restaurants.

In stark contrast to previous years, a large number of diners use mobile pay now more than ever.

It makes sense, too. While mobile pay is steadily increasing in popularity in the U.S., it is virtually the only way to pay in other parts of the world. Evelyn Cheng, reporter for CNBC, recently said, “mobile pay is growing so rapidly in mainland China that as a foreigner, I sometimes found it difficult to complete basic transactions without it.”

Also on the rise? Online reservations, online ordering, and the demand for guest wi-fi.

Want the Full Report?

Click here to read the 2017 Restaurant Technology Industry Report

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