Bits and "Bites" - Technology Enters The Restaurant

My dad came over today for a visit today. He’s an avid reader and consumes The New York Times from front to back. I guess you could say he’s part of my research team as he frequently cuts out articles for me related to digital business. This past weekend he brought over the front page of the business section, profiling the use of tablets in the quick serve restaurant category. Although many digital technologies in physical spaces have yet to transform shopping behavior, the restaurant industry has one of the stronger use-cases to employ digital, including:

  • Improving service by eliminating waiting in line. At Panera, customers go straight to their table and order via their smartphones. No more waiting in line to order, and standing around for your order to be ready.
  • Increasing average order size and margins with contextual meal recommendations. Chili’s employs tablets that drive up order size by providing meal recommendations that may have a higher price point, higher margin, or is highly rated.  In their tests they indicate a 20% lift in dessert sales! Yum.
  • Expediting service and improving accuracy.  Restaurant staff has a lot to gain by employing digital technology. They can reallocate cashiers to kitchen or service roles, and having customers order at the table improves order accuracy.

Another indication showcasing the importance of digital technology in restaurants was revealed today when Oracle acquired MICROS. Oracle is seeking to bolster sales of its technology, and they recognize that the restaurant and hospitality industry is ripe for digital disruption.  

Benefits are not just limited to fast casual or quick serve restaurants. Recently, researcher Lily Varon authored with me a report documenting The State Of The Digital Store, highlighting the changing expectations of customers in stores as well as the technology retailers are employing to meet the needs of these empowered customers.  It’s full of great examples of retail store technology including both associate and customer facing utilities. We are at the cusp of real transformation, with digital business driving the revolution. Stay tuned for even more research on the digital store, including a forward-looking view of technology as well as the impact of this technology on privacy. If you'd like a preview of our research, please schedule an inquiry with me and Lily.

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