When Ray Kroc, the first McDonald’s franchise restaurant opened its doors in Illinois, 1955, fast food dining became the latest breakthrough in the eating out sector. The fact that food could be ordered and ready to eat within a significantly short amount of time was considered to be something of the future. Fast forward to 2018 where all the advances in technology mean service throughout the foodservice industry is quicker than ever. So, what sorts of technologies are now shaping the foodservice industry and out of home eating?

Mobile Ordering – the process is simple and easy to pick up. The customer downloads the mobile app and with the tap of a finger is able to place food orders with specific operators. Mobile apps offer customers the convenience of reading a menu at leisure. In some cases a customer can arrive at a restaurant where a prepaid order is ready to pick up. Larger companies have picked up on this trend, with the likes of McDonald’s and Starbucks creating their own apps facilitating menu-browsing, food and drink ordering, loyalty schemes and even restaurant-themed games.

Tablet Ordering – restaurants are increasingly facing stiff competition and tough choices to increase table turnover during peak periods, boost profit margins and streamline the dining experience to accommodate time-strapped customers. With tablet ordering, customers are able to have faster sit down meals. No longer do they have to wait for front of house staff to prepare the bill, at the touch of a fingertip diners eating out can pay for their meal, there and then, with no delays. Diners can use this service to order drinks, sides, starters or entire meals in their own time, eliminating the time waiting for a server to appear with menus or to take their order. Pan-asian chain Inamo is an excellent example of pairing innovative technology with quality food and drink.

Third-Party Delivery – in the world of ordering online, convenience is the key. The only thing better than ordering online is having it delivered to your door. Having the access to summon prepared food to your doorstep with the click of a button is causing the online delivery industry to expand at a phenomenal rate and is reshaping the market, maximising convenience and transparency. As the demand for delivery service skyrockets, so has the field of competition with the likes of Deliveroo, UberEATS and Just Eat fighting for the top spot. The huge benefit for consumers ordering through these delivery platforms is the variety of food that can be delivered from just one app. From healthy, nutritional salads to pure indulgence and comfort food, there is an option for everyone. Not only does this benefit the consumer but the operator too. Big online delivery companies are beginning to expand their delivery zones and customer base as well as gaining more operators as the trend booms. So, does this mean the next move for delivery services will be the ability to order from multiple restaurants in one transaction? I hope so.

Management Systems – the capabilities of today’s cloud-based technologies go past the traditional point of sale. Using technology, restaurant owners can improve inventory management by using data from customers’ orders. Through a cloud-based device, employees are able to submit and directly view inventory counts, which make for greater efficiency and accuracy, providing staff with better visibility of their main assets. This not only improves profitability but allows the operator to review performance depending on certain days, or weeks and can review how elements such as weather, sporting events etc. affect essential pieces of data. These types of technologies are more reliable enabling operators to take stock counts and view stock levels, notifying employees when there is over-portioning, waste and theft meaning employees can resolve issues quickly and easily.

With the growth of new technologies within the foodservice industry showing no signs of slowing, we’re beginning to wonder, will technology take over the out of home industry to such an extent that it would reduce the need for staff? That’s a discussion for another day…