What are the emerging technological trends in the restaurant market?

Technology has been at the forefront of change in business, and in life, for hundreds of years. From the creation of the combine harvester to help with farming, to the internet making everyone virtual, technology is usually the force for change. When considering how PESTLE, or any external business environmental analysis, effects businesses, technological and social change are the true drivers when it comes to change in business. Certainly some changes have more impact than others. It is unlikely that any of the changes in the next few years will be have as much of an impact as the washing machine or the internet did. However, change is important, and one universal truth is that technology will keep advancing in the years to come. The restaurant sector is no different.

So what are the emerging technologies in the restaurant sector?

Mobile phone app usage is proving to be the biggest development for food businesses.

Convenience is key

Technology has played a key role in the UK restaurants market in recent years, with significant advancements in mobile technology and the rise of social media have seen the dining out experience become increasingly virtual, convenient and accessible. Many leading brands, especially those in the quick service sector, have adopted the use of apps as a key means of widening their target audiences and opening up new avenues of growth. Companies such as Burger King, McDonald’s and Nando’s have introduced their own apps, thus enabling consumers to have an account, accumulate points, get access to deals and view detailed nutritional matters and advice.

– KeyNote (2016)

KeyNote suggests that advancements in apps and social media are the big current technological changes. This is evident to see, with rewards systems such as Nando’s Chilli Collection (Nandos, 2017) taking full advantage of the advancing gamification trend, i.e. using apps and games as a platform to reward repeat purchase and customer loyalty. Quick service sector brands are becoming increasingly tech savvy, with McDonald’s  as the clear example of “self-service” machines popping up around the globe (PCmag, 2016), although this is likely an attempt to reduce staff overheads, rather than embracing change. However, a lesser known feature of this self service is that Mcdonald’s have devised an app, essentially working as an online menu, similar to self service machines, except you don’t have to leave your seat. Convenience really is key!

However, self service and increased “technologicalization” of businesses will see less and less friendly staff, which is really a key USP of more “restaurant-like” restaurants. It is unlikely that many mid-to-high tier establishments will introduce self service any time soon.

What technological changes are effecting all restaurants?

The biggest change that technology has had on the market is that it allows untold convenience for consumers. But what is more convenient than not leaving your seat in a restaurant? Not leaving your bed, that’s what.

Apps have resulted in a rise in the number of consumers ordering food for delivery. This seems like a relatively old trend, but the truth is that it has started booming further than ever before. Apps such as Deliveroo and UberEATS have driven sales across the market by delivering hot restaurant meals to consumers doors with the click of a button. This is no over-exaggeration, with JustEat you can get food to your door in less than four clicks if you have used the app in the past.

Here is an example, Domino’s recently announced the launch of a gamer-oriented application, which is open to UK consumers and utilises Microsoft’s latest console: the Xbox One. Gamers can bring up the Dominos menu through the use of hand gestures or by saying ‘Domino’s, feed me’ to the console, thereby using its voice recognition capabilities; the application also features an on-screen order tracker, providing customers with a clearer indication of when their food will arrive. (Telegraph, 2014).

Make no mistake though, eat in restaurants are still the dominant sector by far, but the delivery market is taking out more of a chunk every year. (Keynote, 2015)

Conclusion 

Technology can change the face of many businesses. Realistically though, the restaurant sector is currently coming off quite lightly. With things like automation in driving waiting in the wings – which is likely to put tens of thousands of drivers out of jobs – restaurants aren’t seeing too much of a change. But comparisons can often be misleading. The restaurant market is changing as much as most other sectors, and if companies do not begin to adapt, they will die with the generations. Large companies are always ahead of the curve when it comes to expensive technology, but how will smaller companies fare? Only time will tell.

 

 

 

References:

Keynote (2016). Online at: https://www.keynote.co.uk/market-report/food/restaurants?page=8 Last accessed 17.09 06/04/17

Keynote (2015). Online at: https://www.keynote.co.uk/market-report/food/fast-food-home-delivery-outlets?full_report=true Last accessed: 18.49 06/04/17

Nandos (2017). Online at: https://www.nandos.co.uk/card/how-it-worksLast accessed 18.19 06/04/17

PCmag, (2016). Online at: http://www.pcmag.com/news/349707/mcdonalds-pilots-mobile-ordering-and-self-service-kiosks Last accessed 17.43 06/04/17

Telegraph (2014). Online at: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/video-games/video-game-news/11242971/Order-pizza-from-your-Xbox-One.html Last Accessed 18.41 06.04.17

Deliveroo (2017). https://deliveroo.co.uk/

JustEat (2017). https://www.just-eat.co.uk/

McDonalds (2017). http://www.mcdonalds.co.uk/ukhome.html

UberEATS (2017). https://www.ubereats.com/london/

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