People are constantly seeking new and delicious ways to feed themselves and their families without spending the time and effort shopping, preparing, and cleaning up after a meal. It seems like no one has time for that anymore, so restaurant entrepreneurs are filling the void with creative solutions.
“Ghost” restaurants that are only kitchens and a pickup counter are serving up delicious takeout dinners for families of two, four, or more. There are more delivery options in smaller markets, and convenience and grocery stores have been expanding their foodservice offerings with more prepared foods and heat-and-serve meals. The desire for ease and speed, combined with the expansion of take-out only options means that off-premises traffic will post stronger gains than on-premises dining. Consolidation in food manufacturing and distribution will intensify.
SMB restaurant owners can prepare for these shifts in the industry by deploying the right technology. According to The National Restaurant Association, technology will take over by 2030, so here’s what you should expect.
1. Customer Use of Mobile Payment Technology Will Become More Widespread
Mobile payments are catching on—quickly. From 2015 to 2018, the percentage of customers placing orders and paying through a smartphone app increased from 11% to 39%. Mobile represents 60% of all digital restaurant orders today.
Currently, 60% of Americans order delivery or takeout once a week, and this number is expected to climb, as the popularity of off-premises dining outpaces dine-in. Restaurant owners and managers should prepare for this increase by deploying an online ordering system or mobile app and delivery solution.
Online ordering engages the customer and gives them control over the ordering process, so they can place an order and securely process payments anytime, from anywhere. It is a win for both the customer and the restaurant: the average order placed via mobile app or online system is 20% higher, so restaurants boost their earnings while customers satisfy their cravings as quickly and easily as possible.
2. Customers Will Expect Pay-at-the-Table Solutions
Pay-at-the table solutions streamline the guest experience at the end of the meal. They eliminate the time spent after the check is brought. The diner puts his card on the table, the server takes it, processes the payment, and then brings it back. Most customers don’t give a second thought to handing their credit card to a restaurant employee so the payment can be processed, but when the server leaves with the card to swipe it at the POS terminal, it’s an opportunity for theft. Restaurant staff can run cards through a skimmer to steal the number before swiping it at the terminal to process the payment.
Mobile/tablet POS solutions that process payments tableside are a more secure and convenient alternative for employees and diners. These solutions process payments in front of patrons, so their credit card never leaves their sight. Mobile POS solutions include several enhancements for tableside payments, including on-screen signature capture using a finger or stylus for an added layer of security. Tablets secured to the table are another option that eliminates the need for the server to visit the table, so diners can pay their check and the table can be turned immediately. More table turns means more meals served, which is invaluable for a small restaurant that requires multiple table turns to make a profit.
3. 30% of Customers Say They Would Prefer to Order from a Kiosk
The self-service kiosk market will reach an estimated $30.8 billion by 2024, according to market research compiled by the National Restaurant Association, and it’s easy to see why. The average ticket size for orders placed via kiosk are larger than those taken by employees because they upsell or cross-sell on every screen and every transaction, without needing reminders or incentives.
Self-service technology engages with customers digitally, which is what people prefer. Although some people may feel better about placing their order with a live employee, most people are comfortable with, and will even seek out, self-service kiosks, which send orders to the kitchen as soon as they are entered.
The National Restaurant Association conducted a survey of 2,000 quick-service and fast casual restaurant visitors, which revealed more about how long people are willing to wait for a counterperson. If the line for an employee and kiosk were of equal length, 30% of people would choose the kiosk. The same survey noted that if the line is more than four people long, most customers would prefer to use the kiosk.
Free Self-Service Kiosk Resources
The future of many industries lies with self-service solutions. That’s why Star Micronics is offering free online ordering resources for resellers and software developers who are helping customers future-proof their businesses with self-service solutions.
4. Point of Sale Hardware is Constantly Evolving to Keep Up with Software Innovation
POS hardware isn’t a one-time purchase; it’s constantly evolving because there’s so much innovation in restaurant software due to changing customer preferences and the demand for convenience. Choosing hardware based on appearance or price instead of functionality and flexibility stunts your opportunity for growth and future success. Don’t limit yourself by choosing hardware that doesn’t accommodate critical modern applications.
For example, cloud-based POS solutions have gone from optional to mainstream, but this technology requires “always on” connectivity. Downtime is damaging for a small restaurant because it costs you money and can drastically reduce the likelihood that guests will return in the future.
Future-proof your hardware by choosing POS components and software offered by a company that is known for innovative and reliable hardware solutions with a record of long-term success.
Want to upgrade from a locally hosted POS setup to the cloud, but worried about connection reliability? Leveraging a solution like Star Micronics’ mC-Print3 receipt printer, with SteadyLAN®, ensures that downtime due to a poor or interrupted Wi-Fi connection is eliminated, so you can modernize your operation without worry.