With technology coming into play, the restaurant industry is drastically different from what it used to be. Source: Shutterstock.

With technology coming into play, the restaurant industry is drastically different from what it used to be. Source: Shutterstock.

TD Bank: Automation and mobile apps inevitable for the restaurant industry

IN THE age of constant technological disruptions, it is common wisdom that to stay relevant, businesses must be sensitive to trends that have the potential to redefine their industries.

In the restaurant industry, two such emerging trends are increasingly apparent.

Firstly, consumers are getting more digital, leading to their increased use of mobile ordering apps. Secondly, automation is making businesses more efficient.

Most business leaders recognize this. TD Bank recently surveyed 254 owners, operators, and executives of multi-unit restaurant companies (both independent and franchised), and found that most respondents believe increased automation (34 percent) and mobile loyalty apps (31 percent) will strongly impact the industry this year.

Many have started responding to these changes, investing heavily in automated services such as self-serve kiosks and are also looking into mobile loyalty apps that reward customers when they spend. Smaller local and regional chains are expected to follow suit soon.

TD Bank Head of the Restaurant Franchise Finance Group Mark Wasilefsky emphasized the significant shift in consumer expectations today.

“If consumers have a brand’s app on their phone, it’s much more likely they will visit the store. It’s clear that technology from a delivery and mobile ordering standpoint is important, and investing in technologies […] is necessary to compete.”

Mobile apps drive sales primarily through on-demand delivery services.

The number of restaurants with a delivery strategy is soaring- there was an approximate 10 percent increase from 2018 to 2019-and 52 percent reported that delivery makes up 10 percent of sales.

“The cost of delivery is decreasing as third-party providers become more efficient and larger operators are able to negotiate more favorable deals, thus there is tremendous potential for operators to use delivery to account for a larger percentage of businesses, and will be a big part of a business going forward.”

There isn’t a need to look far when it comes to technology-savvy restaurants.

McDonald’s, for example, is already deploying self-service kiosks at full-scale in most of its restaurants.

They also have an established mobile app that covers a wide geographical network, seamlessly linking customers with the nearest McDonald’s restaurant, allowing them to receive their orders in a timely manner.

Singaporean sushi chain Sakae Sushi now uses mobile/tablet devices to take orders which it claims helps effectively spread out manpower, channeling resources to more value-added work instead.

Third-party food delivery providers are also exploding in growth, bringing consumer convenience to a whole new level. All these point towards the great imperative for those in the industry to up their game in technology.

The role technology plays in just about any industry is paramount.

Thus, it would be wise for businesses to start integrating it into their daily business operations, or else risk being eliminated from the race to dominate in their respective industries.