PYMNTS Intelligence: Technology Can Help Restaurants Through the Current Crisis

Restaurant owners can adopt new software new software and technology to help with staffing shortages, along with digital ordering and payment technology to raise customer satisfaction.

Download the PYMNTS and Ingo Money March 2023 Money Mobility Tracker: Inflation Makes Technology Table Stakes for Restaurants to explore how new technology and digital tools can help restaurant owners navigate high inflation, staffing shortages and supply chain issues to improve customer satisfaction

As many industries embraced modern payments systems and other digital capabilities in recent years, the restaurant industry largely lagged behind. This changed, however, during the pandemic as restaurants were forced to adopt digital tools to operate at a time of store closures and social distancing.

Restaurants benefited tremendously from the shift, with one survey finding the majority of restaurant owners in agreement that new technology adoption over the past two years has been critical to their businesses’ survival. Now that the industry finds itself in another crisis, technology once again is poised to come to the rescue.Many restaurants are already automating, yet additional automation opportunities exist.

Automation saves restaurants time and money.

Restaurant owners have a variety of software and other digital tools at their disposal to address rising costs and labor shortages. One primary way they can do this is through automation. Already, 75% of restaurants are using automation in at least three areas of operations, yet many restaurants have opportunities to innovate further — especially their back-office tasks.

According to one estimate, restaurant operators are spending 20 hours per week on employee-connected administrative tasks that could easily be handled with software. Indeed, 90% of restaurant owners view increased automation of back-of-house operations as a way to free up time to focus on more important tasks. Solutions that could deliver these improvements run the gamut from labor management software to inventory management tools to better internal communication methods.

As restaurants pursue automation, they should consider adopting cloud-based point-of-sale (POS) systems to help streamline operations. An effective cloud-based POS device supports third-party integration and application programming interface (API) standardization, allowing restaurants to create a centralized platform across all their ordering and payment methods. This reduces user errors, saves time and potentially drives additional revenue. In a survey of restaurants with such connectivity, 70% of respondents said that customer frequency and traffic increased due to the seamless connection between online and mobile ordering and POS systems.

Restaurants can also expand ordering and delivery methods.Restaurants are expanding and adopting online ordering, and customers want new technology at the drive-thru.

Restaurants can also reach more customers without needing to hire additional staff by expanding their online ordering and delivery services. Many restaurants have already pursued such technology and have enjoyed the benefits. New or expanded online ordering systems were among the most adopted technology tools in 2022, according to a survey, and were also cited as having improved business the most.

Restaurants can also adopt digital tableside ordering and payment capabilities to deal with staffing shortages. Implementing tableside ordering and payment technology helps reduce labor costs because customers can order and pay without the need of a server. Similar technologies can be brought to bear on the drive-thru experience — a development that many customers would welcome. A survey found that 70% of restaurant customers want technologies such as personalized menus, voice assistants powered by artificial intelligence (AI) and smartphone apps incorporated into the drive-thru.