As technology changes the way we shop, in-store retailers have adopted new marketing and retail tactics to continue attracting customers. There’s one industry, though, that might seem impervious to the increasing demand for online retail: food service. While online shopping can bring clothing, hardware, housewares, sports equipment, even groceries to your doorstep, food service appears irreplicable via app or website. Nonetheless, as food delivery sites and apps like Grubhub and Uber Eats increase in popularity, fast-casual and quick service restaurants need to keep current to draw customers off their couches and into their stores.
Here are a few trends in in-store technology you’ll be seeing in restaurants in 2019:
Automation Technology: A demand for speedy dining has lead restaurants to adopt new ordering technology–tabletop tablets, kiosks, and phone apps allow customers to skip countertop service, sending orders straight to the kitchen and cutting out the cashier middleman. These technologies respond to demand for automated service while still allowing for personalized orders. Blaine Hurst, CEO of Panera Bread, revealed at the NRF 2018 Retail’s Big Show that 10 percent of Panera’s sales are through their rapid pickup option, which allows customers to order in advance of their arrival at the restaurant. Technology facilitates speed, bringing restaurants into an increasingly fast-paced market.
Customization: Following the wild success of Chipotle and Subway, both known for their behind-the-counter, buffet-style ordering and food prep, more and more restaurants have adopted a “create-your-own” food service model. MOD Pizza, Qdoba, Saladworks, and Sweetgreen are serving wraps, bowls, salads, and even pizzas personalized for each customer. This service style is the perfect for busy consumers–no-fuss, fast dining–as well as consumers with dietary restrictions, allergies, or simply specific tastes. Its success is evident as smaller retailers have begun adopting this pseudo-self-service style to great success: Junzi Kitchen, founded in 2014, has opened three storefronts in the last three years, while Pokemoto has expanded across three states in the last year and a half.