What You Need to Know About the Top 3 Restaurant Technology Trends for 2016

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Many changes happened in 2015 to inspire trends in 2016, including the wider use of mobile applications for consumer loyalty programs and ordering as well as the EMV liability shift. The largest change was in the mentality of how restaurants view and use technology to drive every facet of the business. Technology can be a great tool for restaurants to enhance consumer experience and get more of them to both buy food and visit the restaurant.

There are three overarching technology trends for the restaurant industry predicted for this year.

1. Payments

As of October 1, 2015, the EMV, Europay, MasterCard and Visa, liability shift passed in order to reduce fraud and make it harder for others to produce counterfeit cards. This is a global standard for cards to have computer chips and for places to have the technology to authenticate these transactions. Customers will expect restaurants to be able to process these cards and you need to make sure to consider their experience in this process change.

Data security will also continue to be an issue and payment-related breaches are expected to continue in 2016. All businesses need to make sure to have their security measures in place to protect payment networks and customers’ card data.

It’s important to get to know your customers to find out the best mobile offering as mobile wallets are increasing as a secure alternative for payments. Restaurants should invest in a payment platform with demand now and in three years down the road in mind.

2. Mobile Consumer Engagement

According to a Forrester Research report, mobile commerce transitions are anticipated to exceed $142 billion in 2016. There also exists data to support that customers who place online orders are more loyal to the brand. Let’s face it, most people order things online now for a wider selection and so as not to have to go out searching for something. It’s much more convenient to have something either come to your house or place an order ahead of time to save time at a restaurant. This is especially true for workers who need lunch. It’s much easier and faster to order something online, pay for it and have it delivered. This way they can keep on working and still get fed.

According to a NRA/LevelUp whitepaper, people that place an order online at a restaurant, visit 67% more often than those that haven’t placed an online order. This makes sense because these people must like the restaurant in order to order from there so going in isn’t a huge stretch. People may be more likely to add toppings or send in group orders when using the app as opposed to going into a restaurant.

Restaurants will want to at least look at adding and making an app that is efficient to create higher customer interest and engagement. Not only do you need an app, but you have to make it user friendly otherwise people will get no further and not use the app again. It needs to be easy to sign in and place orders. If it’s a pain to navigate, they won’t order anything.

There is also risk involved with a mobile engagement strategy. If there are issues with order flows, it could cause an unpleasant experience for those in the restaurant and hurt sales. The systems must be integrated effectively. Your staff should be properly trained also.

3. Employee Productivity

One of the largest challenges in the restaurant business is still managing the cost of labor. The good thing is that technological advances that are focused on customers also have a positive impact on employee productivity. More emphasis can be on kitchen production and serving when you optimize labor costs by allowing customers to order either through a kiosk or mobile device. This also gives the employees more flexibility.

Managers will have access to real-time data which makes it much easier to evaluate employee productivity. This also lets employees know how they are performing and the tracking makes it possible to provide for rewards and incentives when reaching a goal. The employees will know ahead of time what to do in order to meet their goals.

Technology will continue to help restaurants gain customers and make sales, but they must use technology effectively by knowing their market and the needs of the customers.

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Rafi Cohen, a graduate of Baruch College & Brooklyn native is the Co-Founder @ Orders2me, an online ordering platform that gives restaurant owners all the features they need to grow their business in the digital age.

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