It’s difficult to predict which new technologies will resonate and have staying power in the foodservice industry. Low profit margins mean operators have limited capital for investing in new technology and equipment. In addition, low foodservice budgets in certain sectors of non-commercial foodservice (such as K-12) make choosing and implementing these technologies incredibly time-consuming and perilous (if the wrong technology is adopted).
In the near-term, foodservice operators should make use of current available technologies (such as internal websites or social media) to keep customers aware of foodservice offerings and nutritional information. Furthermore, operators should embrace app-based ordering that can save on labor, improve efficiency and increase customer satisfaction.
In the mid-term, operators should investigate the introduction of self-serve kiosks that can further reduce front-of-house labor and reduce guest wait times. The addition of “smart appliances” that can be integrated into their central POS system to assist with energy consumption, sales tracking, consumer preferences and inventory is also an addition that is worth evaluating. Looking farther into the future, operators will need to analyze their ROI to see if additional automation in the front-of-house, kitchen (i.e., smart appliances or robotics) or delivery services (i.e., drones) is needed or even warranted.
However, if foodservice operators wait too long to adopt game-changing technologies, it could put their operations at a competitive disadvantage. Different segments and foodservice concepts will have to balance those competing pressures to choose the most appropriate solutions for them. One thing is clear: features such as digital ordering, varying degrees of automation and integrated operating systems, are too impactful to ignore.
Entegra Procurement Services regularly publishes blog posts on food trends and innovations in food services. Entegra is more than a group purchasing organization (GPO): Our team of procurement specialists implement strategic sourcing to bring the most value to your business. We help our clients, in many segments ranging from the healthcare supply chain to restaurant supply, to cut costs and consolidate their portfolios.