8 Technology Trends to Watch Out For in 2021

In 2020 and 2021, restaurants have either had to adapt to new changes posed by the COVID pandemic or risk going out of business. The installation of new technology has given them a shot at survival during these incredibly troubling times for the industry. 

As restaurateurs begin to increasingly implement new tech into their restaurants, we thought we should take a look at the top 8 technology trends that you can expect to be served up in your local restaurant.

Contactless Payments 

COVID has really driven contactless payment solutions into the mainstream. And for obvious reason. Cash is dirty and ridden with germs. in a global pandemic that is very very bad news. Cashless payment technologies, therefore, provide a much safer and more hygienic method of payment. 

Even before the pandemic and over the last decade cashless payment technology has been growing within the restaurant industry, but COVID-19 has seen its growth exponentially boom. Juniper Research estimates that contactless payments will grow to $6 trillion worldwide by 2024. For clarity, in 2021 they stand at around $2 trillion, so that’s a 300% growth. 

 A survey across 50+ US states found that 34% of customers viewed contactless payments as “Extremely Important”. 

Ordering Online & Delivery Apps 

Ordering online and delivery apps allow restaurants to maintain a connection with their diners, even if they are unable to physically dine at the restaurant. Delivery apps such as Uber Eats or DoorDash operate delivery services, for restaurants as a third party. Restaurateurs avoid the trouble of developing their own online system but do experience a fee.

 To avoid this fee and maximize profits after a financially troubled past 18 months, many restaurants may begin to start their own online ordering system into place. Hospitality Tech report that this is the preferred option for consumers as their money goes straight to their local restaurant – not a mega-company. 

QR Codes 

Similar to the concept of Contactless Payments, QR codes avoid the potentially unhygienic practice of sharing a menu with the 50 other previous customers who dined before you. 

QR codes provide an easy and uncomplex means for customers to browse menus, place orders and pay for their meal. You don’t have to download an app to use them and they are cheap to implement. 

They also enable restaurants to ‘track & trace ’their customers. 

Simple, easy, and effective. QR codes aren’t going anywhere. 

Air Purifying 

Maintaining the cleanliness and hygiene of a restaurant has always been of utmost importance and even more so following the pandemic. Therefore, technology that purifies and cleans restaurant air is of great benefit to a modern-day restaurant. As this tech develops, expect to see it implemented more. 

Reserving a Table Online 

The easing of the pandemic has allowed people to return to restaurants but after the pandemic and a significant lack of social interaction, we don’t seem to enjoy talking to people anymore.

 Online platforms like Table Agent allow people to reserve a table at their favorite restaurant, as and when they please without having to talk to anyone. 

Restaurants also benefit, as they are able to automatically log reservations in their systems and avoid over-booking. This means no more awkwardly having to send customers away or forcing them into the corner near the toilets. 

Vital client data can also be collected via these systems enabling further track and trace capabilities and market insights. 

But it’s not just all about the customer. Tech can make the lives of the restaurant and its workers easier too. 

Kitchen Display Systems (KDS)

These systems are a “digital menu board” for restaurant and kitchen staff. Giada Pezzini, writing for LS Retail, writes about how such systems are able to “completely transforms restaurant kitchens. 

 She tells of how these systems allow often chaotic kitchens to avoid delays, prevent lost orders, ensure that food is prepared in the correct order and help to provide an overall faster and more efficient restaurant service. 

As the age-old saying goes “if you can’t stand the heat of the kitchen, then get a kitchen display system”. 

Inventory Management Software 

Food waste is costing hospitality over $100 billion a year. Over 70% of this wastage occurs before being served up to a customer. 

Artificial Intelligence is being employed by companies, like Winnow Solutions, to help restaurants monitor their inventories more accurately. This enables restaurateurs to spend less on unnecessary food/drink items and prevents the hugely detrimental environmental impact of food wastage. 

An example of technology being used in all the right ways – to help restaurant owners and works, to save money, but most importantly to save the planet. 

Automated Employee Scheduling  

Technology such as ZoomShift now provides restaurants a simple way to manage the working schedule of all of its employees. Staff are able to effectively and efficiently request time off, swap shifts, and view their upcoming schedule. 

This helps to avoid confusion behind the scenes if the restaurant and enables a smoother running of operations. Owners are also able to monitor their staff’s workload to check that they aren’t turning up late and are working where they should be. 

These new and upcoming tech trends will help, and have helped, restaurants to run more efficiently and have enabled them to adapt to a rapidly changing landscape following the aftermath of the COVID pandemic, so expect to see them around for a little while longer. 

This advice has come from Toronto’s leading HOSPITALITY BUSINESS BROKERS™, CHI Real Estate, who help clients buy and sell restaurants and commercial properties.