We live in an age where the smartphone has become part of the table setting. Technology and the web is such an integral part of the eating out experience that restaurateurs can't ignore the fact that diners have certain expectations when it comes to technology at the table.
By adopting new technologies early on, you can stay one step ahead of your competitors and enhance your customers’ experience. Of course, not every advancement will be the next iPhone but it's up to you to decide which upgrades suit your brand and make your restaurant a place that patrons want to return to again and again.
Whether you’re running a food truck or Michelin starred restaurant, there are ways to incorporate technology in to your business that will streamline service and make life easier for your customers. Here are a few of the technological advancements that we think are here to stay...
1. Free Wi-fi for Your CustomersRecent studies have shown that 61% of people will search for a Wi-Fi hotspot when they’re out eating and 45% of all people surveyed say it’s important to them to have Wi-Fi access when dining out*. Attract extra foot traffic by advertising your free wifi with a sign in the window.
Read more: Should you Offer Wi-Fi to your Customers?
2. Let Customers Check-in
If your establishment already has a Facebook page, that's great and you can tick this one off the list! If not, it's something you should consider as you could be missing a great opportunity to attract new customers. In order for people to check-in, you must have your location information published on your page so make sure you've entered your street address in the settings.
You can encourage your customers to check in and leave reviews by putting a reminder on your menu boards, menus, receipts and other printed materials on the premises. Whenever a customer checks in, a good portion of their Facebook friends will see this, giving you the potential to reach real people in your area (for free!) who might even become customers down the line!
3. Digital Menu Boards
Most suitable for quick-service restaurants, digital menu boards are the flexible alternative to the traditional menu board and can even save you money on design and printing costs in the long-term.
With the flexibility of a digital menu board, you can switch from the breakfast to lunch menu right on schedule. All out of the daily special? No problem, just scratch it from the menu. Want to highlight that dish that hasn't been selling as well as it did last week? It can do that too.
4. Ordering on the GoUse an app or mobile website to take orders ahead of the lunch-time rush, especially if you're already taking orders over the phone.
If you're in the business of hot beverages or food-to-go with highly customised orders, your customers will appreciate the extra convenience of being able to order (and even pay) for their food upfront so it will be ready at a time convenient to them. The food should be waiting for the customer, not the other way around.
You'll also spend less time answering the phone, freeing up valuable time to focus on the food.
5. Mobile PaymentsMaking life easy for your customers should always be a priority and mobile payments are quicker, more convenient and can even mean better tips for staff.
Mobile payments will soon be the rule, not the exception. Apple Pay is probably on your radar already and there are a host of alternatives already on the market. Mobile payments use NFC (Near Field Communication) and if you have a contactless card reader on your premises, you're already on your way to accepting mobile payments as this uses the same technology.
Not all of your customers will be on board yet, but you should be making a start. Research by Deloitte predicts that in-store mobile payments will increase by more than 1,000% worldwide in 2015**.
* Why BT Wi-fi for pubs, bars and restaurants?
** Deloitte: TMT Predictions 2015