Technology that is driving the catering industry today
It’s not easy to stay successful in the modern-day catering industry.
Whether it’s a new business venture or the expansion of an existing one, a catering company needs to create flexible and unique experiences to make it stand out.
Restaurants, pubs, bars, and event caterers alike are discovering the need to adapt to new customer expectations as competition grows—especially following the challenges that 2020 has brought us so far.
In order to thrive, these businesses should consider investing in fresh methods of engaging the masses.
But how can you ensure you stay ahead of the game and entice customers looking for an exceptional, modern experience?
Not long ago, technology for the catering industry centred mostly around table booking software, payment systems, and scheduling software. While these can help your business run smoothly, the next generation of technology that is emerging can allow businesses to harness innovation and development.
Here are our top tech picks that are driving the catering industry this year.
Home delivery technology
First in our list is the technology that helps you bring your product straight to your customers’ doors.
Some restaurants have received such a great response for delivering orders during lockdown in the UK that they are considering offering the option permanently even though pubs and restaurants have begun to reopen.
Making the right move forward with software now could mean you can fully capitalise on providing a delivery service alongside the running of your usual establishment in the future.
The total food service delivery market was worth around £8.5 billion in 2019, and that is very likely to grow. By teaming with a popular home delivery app—or even developing your own—you can allow your customers to enjoy your food wherever they are.
Interactive dining experiences
On the other side of the coin, restaurant and pub owners may find they need to attract existing and new customers to their establishment in light of recent restrictions.
As people start to go out again, they may be looking for more special and unique experiences. According to a survey by Eventbrite, 75% of people said that they believe unique dining experiences are worth paying more for.
Making your environment more engaging with interactive technologies is a great way to get started, and there are lots of ways to introduce them to your establishment.
Technologies like robotic bar tenders and hi-tech dining tables are a sure-fire way to pique the interest of potential customers, but the more imaginative and original the better!
AI taste technology
If you want to ensure your customers return because of your incredible food, a new AI technology that can imitate the way people perceive taste could be the solution for you.
This is important since a survey by Steritech showed 23% of people who see a negative review about food quality will choose somewhere else to eat.
The ground-breaking AI taste technology concept allows producers to create new flavours that people like.
While it is unlikely that business owners will have direct access to this technology, being the first to the market with a new flavour could yield a huge competitive advantage.
Self-service mobile technology
In the same way that delivery technology is likely to aid the catering industry in the long-term, self-service digital tools are likely to stick around too.
As the world prepares for a new normal, many restaurants, bars and pubs are implementing self-service technology to minimise social contact between staff and customers.
JD Wetherspoon implemented their app for ordering and payment back in March 2017 and was a huge hit even before social distancing was prevalent.
And some experts suggest customers are likely to spend more and order more frequently from a mobile app too.
By utilising a self-service mobile app, it also becomes much easier to collect data about your customers’ spending habits.
If your app requires each customer to hold a unique account, you can then deliver personalised marketing for other products on your menu that you think they will like.
Add to that the ability to finetune your menu based on your best sellers, you could be hosting a data-powered dining experience you and your customers will love.
Traceability and blockchain
Blockchain offers a world of new opportunities for the catering industry.
The most effective use so far has been in food safety.
Utilising blockchain for the real-time tracking of produce means you know its exact origin from farm to fork. As fears are increasingly about food hygiene, now may be the time to boast about your locally sourced produce, with the evidence to back up your claims.
According to the World Health Organisation, an estimated 1 in 10 people in the world fall ill after eating contaminated food. Food rescue apps that use blockchain technology are widely available to help you ensure your establishment has top-quality food safety.
Not only that, they help to cut down on food waste.
Voice commands are becoming more and more common in modern warehouses for inventory management, and there is no reason why this technology can't be utilised in commercial kitchens and bars too.
Amazon’s Alexa or Google’s equivalent voice assistant could be hugely helpful in keeping track of bar inventory and ordering new supplies when stocks run low.
Although in its infancy, voice AI technology could be incredibly useful for taking telephone and drive-thru orders.
For example, Google Duplex makes and takes calls for you, but with a natural-sounding human voice. It’s currently live throughout the majority of the US, and is also reported to be helping UK businesses to update their business hours during the pandemic.
Taking advantage of the latest technologies could take your business a long way—so why not consider the investment?
While the world becomes increasingly digital, it is important for the catering industry to keep customers engaged. And adding some innovation into your business is the ideal way to achieve that competitive edge.