Supply chain disruptions and labour shortages within the restaurant and catering industry can put services and operations on hold. Not only does this cut into profits, but it can also negatively impact the customer experience and their loyalty in the long term. Additionally, a recent survey of food businesses in the UK notes that aside from the lack of staff and supplies, the manual processes and outdated technology of almost a quarter (23%) of restaurants surveyed can also pose problems in terms of performance, sales, and overall revenue.
To increase business confidence and survival even during economically uncertain periods, 87% of respondents agreed that upgrading technology makes processes more efficient and streamlined. In this article, we look at the different technologies that are already transforming UK restaurant services.
Online ordering and takeaway services
More and more people are using their phones not just for social media and entertainment but, more importantly, to purchase basic needs like food. Thus, restaurants are now incentivised to embrace online ordering and takeaways to reach more customers. A report on the restaurant industry by Customer Experience Magazine found that about 20% of restaurants derive the majority of their revenue from online delivery and takeaways. But there is an expected shift from third-party delivery apps like UberEats towards restaurants offering services via their own websites/apps.
This digitised ordering experience is similarly offered by the click-and-collect approach that restaurants like Leon are already utilising. With a robust click-and-collect strategy, restaurants and customers alike can avoid incurring additional costs from delivery fees. There’s also a decreased likelihood of long waiting times and order errors as they’re directly fed into the online ordering system.
Contactless payment solutions
According to the Payments Market Report by UK Finance, contactless payments now account for over a quarter (27%) of all payments made due to faster and more convenient transactions. Aside from introducing virtual payment gateways into their online ordering systems, mobile card payment machines are also ideal for restaurants because they accept payment methods ranging from major credit and debit cards to mobile services like Apple Pay.
The portability of this payment equipment also allows staff to safely and securely take payment anywhere on the premises, whether at the till or directly at the table. Additionally, fast food chains like Burger King have been integrating their self-service touchscreen kiosks with card readers and receipt printing to ensure a fully contactless journey from ordering to payment processing.
Digital rewards system
Recent reports show that four in five Brits are reducing their restaurant spending to cope with rising living costs. In light of this, restaurateurs can gear up and introduce a digital rewards system to increase customer loyalty and engagement.
Food and drink businesses can learn a thing or two from major fast food chains like McDonald’s, which piloted and rolled out its in-app loyalty program in the UK last year. Customers can sign up using their phones or emails via the McDonald’s app, earn points for every purchase, and redeem these accumulated points for immediate incentives like in-store discounts and free food items.
Personalised dining experiences
Another innovative way to boost customer loyalty and engagement is using big data and virtual channels. For businesses with established online ordering and delivery services, data on customer preferences and spending behaviours can be tracked and analysed to tailor food recommendations based on past purchases. Meanwhile, restaurants and bars focusing on delivering an elevated dining experience can further build customer relationships and foster communities by introducing one-of-a-kind experiences like cooking classes and food and wine-tasting events via video conferencing platforms.
As the world becomes increasingly digitalised, upgraded tech has become crucial to success in the food and service industry. To attract more customers and stand out from the competition, restaurateurs must consider upgrades like those listed above in their digital transformation efforts this year.