Restaurant Tech Stack: 10 Tips To Make the Most of Yours
Discover essential tips to optimize your restaurant tech stack. Enhance operations, customer experience, and stay ahead in the modern dining landscape.
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The restaurant industry has changed a lot in the last few years. Data from a 2021 National Restaurant Association survey revealed that about half of full-service, fast-casual, and coffee and snack spots dedicated more resources to technology since March 2020.
Whether it was the shift to online or in-app ordering, or the embrace of mobile payments, technology has shifted from a “nice-to-have” to a “must-have.”
Consider QR codes. Half of full-service restaurants integrated them for digital menus in 2020.
But even with this massive adoption, only 1 in 5 customers felt a QR menu would influence their dining choice. This suggests that while innovations are important, understanding customer priorities is just as important.
There’s no doubt tech solutions are changing the restaurant industry. So, how can you make sure your restaurant isn’t left in the dust? We offer tips to help keep your restaurant efficient, relevant, and customer-approved.
- Modern diners seek convenience, speed, and personalization.
- Harnessing data-driven insights can guide business strategies.
- Investing in staff training maximizes the potential of your tech tools.
- Energy-efficient tech offers both cost savings and an eco-conscious appeal.
What is a restaurant technology stack?
A restaurant technology stack encompasses a comprehensive suite of integrated digital tools and software, aimed at optimizing, streamlining, and enhancing various facets of restaurant operations. This technology stack allows restaurants to manage their daily activities efficiently and offer a good customer experience.
Key components of a restaurant tech stack
The core components of a restaurant technology stack include:
- POS system. Point-of-sale (POS) systems like Square and Toast are integral for managing transactions and analyzing sales data. They also often integrate with inventory management and employee scheduling software.
- Online ordering system. With the rise of takeout and third-party delivery giants like Uber Eats, the digital dining experience has been reimagined. These platforms extend the restaurant’s service reach and provide alternatives to dining in.
- Mobile app. A dedicated mobile app makes it easier for customers to book tables, order food, and accumulate loyalty points. Push notifications can also keep your restaurant brand top of mind.
- Kiosks. Pioneered by brands like McDonald’s, self-service kiosks are gaining momentum, reducing wait times and optimizing overhead costs by promoting user-centric experiences.
- Customer relationship management (CMS) systems. A CMS can help enhance guest experiences through personalization. By analyzing customer data, it crafts unique offers, making diners feel valued and special.
- Inventory management. This component efficiently manages the supply chain, ensuring optimal stock levels and minimizing waste, helping control food costs.
- Customer loyalty software. Loyalty programs help foster repeat business, providing insights into customer preferences and dining behaviors.
- Last-mile delivery software. Given the popularity of food delivery, using last-mile delivery software enables restaurants to bypass hefty commissions imposed by third-party platforms like DoorDash, Grubhub, and Uber Eats.
- Social media platforms. Offering a direct communication channel to customers, social media allows for instant brand promotion and real-time feedback through tweets, posts, and stories.
- QR codes. QR codes are integral for digital menus and contactless payments and have become indispensable in the restaurant industry since 2020.
Why modern restaurants need a tech stack
Today’s diners love experiences — not just a warm meal. Experience-based dining like dinner theaters, internet cafes, supper clubs, conveyor sushi spots, and themed cafes are on the rise.
And it’s not just novelty.
Ever seen a friend skip a restaurant because it didn’t have an online reservation system? Or maybe you’ve gone back to a restaurant or ordered on a food delivery app because of a personalized discount or great reward system.
Imagine this: A couple decides to have Italian for dinner. Within minutes, they find a nearby restaurant, book a table, preview the menu, and even order an appetizer — all from their smartphones.
When they walk in, they’re greeted by name, seated at their reserved table, and their appetizer is moments away from being served. This smooth operation is thanks to a robust tech stack.
From an operational standpoint, there are significant advantages. No more scribbled orders leading to the wrong dish being served. And remember those times when the restaurant ran out of your favorite dish? Inventory management systems help make those disappointments rarer.
Let’s not forget the data. POS analytics can reveal insights like the most ordered dish on a Tuesday evening or the peak times when customers pour in. This information can help inform staffing decisions, menu tweaks, and promotional offers.
10 tips for making the most of your restaurant technology
Here are some tips you can use to control costs, improve efficiency, manage inventory, streamline back-of-house operations, and more.
1. Keep software and systems updated
Imagine a customer trying to place an order, but they can’t because the system is glitching. That’s a problem — you could lose business.
It’s important to keep your software and systems up to date. Most updates come with some new features and better security, making the system work smoother and keeping troublemakers at bay.
Using old software can cause a lot of issues. It can have security holes that make it easy for bad actors to get in, potentially leading to stolen information and a damaged reputation. Plus, it may not work well with new apps or gadgets, which can slow things down.
On the flip side, keeping things updated helps you shore up defenses against security issues and make sure everything works well together, keeping services running smoothly and customers happy.
It also means you get to use the latest features and improvements, keeping your restaurant competitive and in line with what tech-savvy customers expect.
2. Integrate your systems
Imagine your restaurant’s tech stack is like a sports team. Every player, or in this case, every piece of software, has an important job. But if they’re not passing the ball to each other, the game’s going to be a mess.
It’s crucial that all parts of your tech — from the cash register software to the customer management tools — talk to each other smoothly.
Let’s say your cash register is connected to your reservation system. This means you can easily see which dishes are popular when you’re busiest. And if your customer management system is linked to your app, you can send deals straight to a customer’s phone based on what they usually order.
Getting all these systems to work together means fewer mistakes, less manual work, and it helps you see trends and make decisions to keep your customers coming back.
3. Invest in staff training
The technology in your restaurant is a tool. And like any tool, its effectiveness depends on the skill of the user.
Your front-of-house team needs to be comfortable navigating your POS system during a dinner rush, just like your back-end staff should be comfortable using inventory management software to minimize waste.
When your team knows what they’re doing, everything runs smoother. Customers get their orders faster, there are fewer mix-ups, and your restaurant becomes a place people want to come back to. It’s all about giving service that makes you stand out.
Holding regular training sessions keeps everyone in the loop about new features and the right way to do things. It might seem like extra time and money, but in the end, it makes your restaurant run better and keeps your customers and staff happy.
4. Leverage data-driven decision-making
Ever wish you could know in advance which times of the week will be the busiest or which new dish will become a favorite? Well, the information from your tech tools can help you do just that.
You can use this data to make smart choices that can help your business grow.
Here’s an example: Let’s say the information from your cash register system shows that Tuesdays are usually not as busy. Instead of just accepting a slow day, why not do something with this information? You could try something like a “Tuesday Kids Eat Free” deal. A smart move like this could turn your quietest day into a booming one.
By making decisions based on real data, you can change the way your restaurant operates and give your customers what they want when they want it.
5. Select the right tech solutions
Every restaurant is different.
For example, a busy city diner might need a really good cash register system and a handy reservation app because they have so many customers coming and going. But a small local cafe might find more value in having a special loyalty program for their regular Sunday brunch crowd.
So, before jumping for the newest tech, stop and think. What does your restaurant really need right now? Are you thinking of growing your business soon? Is there a specific group of customers you want to attract? What are your customers asking for?
Choosing tech tools that match your restaurant’s needs and goals means you’re not wasting money on things you don’t need and you’re making the most of what can really make a difference for your business.
6. Engage with customers using technology
A customer’s journey doesn’t begin and end at your restaurant’s door. It’s a continuous loop, with numerous digital touch points that offer chances to connect, impress, and engage.
Consider online feedback forms. Digital surveys can be sent post-meal, making it easier for customers to provide their thoughts while their experience is still fresh. With their input, you can make real-time adjustments, so small issues don’t become recurring problems.
Think about mobile order notifications. Instead of just sending a “Your order is ready” text, why not spice it up a bit? Use your brand tone and voice. Have fun with it. Pop in an emoji or two. Or offer a loyalty discount on their next order.
7. Stay abreast of emerging tech trends
In the tech world, you can’t just stand still. To really make a mark, you need to keep learning and adjusting all the time.
Remember the QR code example we talked about? It went from being something people didn’t pay much attention to, to an important tool for contactless dining. The restaurants that started using this tech early made things smoother and safer for their customers.
So, how can you stay ahead?
Consider subscribing to newsletters or magazines about restaurant tech. Chat with other restaurant owners online or join groups where you can share ideas. Go to events and online meetings that talk about the newest tech for restaurants.
8. Embrace customer feedback platforms
Customers’ opinions are crucial, and their feedback is invaluable.
Platforms like Google My Business allow you to collect feedback in real time and let you adapt and improve your service quickly and efficiently. Tools like SurveyMonkey or Typeform can also be used to create digital comment cards for more structured feedback.
Feedback platforms — especially ones offering prizes for completing surveys — are more than just ways to market your restaurant. They give you direct insights from your customers.
It might be easy to only focus on the good reviews, but the bad ones are just as important. They show you where you need to do better and let you fix and enhance your customers’ experiences.
9. Optimize for mobile experiences
Today’s consumers are increasingly mobile-first. This means they often reach for their phones before any other device when they want to order food, make a reservation, or read restaurant reviews.
Given this shift, if your restaurant’s digital platform doesn’t shine on mobile, then you’re risking missed opportunities.
A clunky or slow-loading mobile website can quickly send a potential diner to your competitor. It’s essential to make sure your website is responsive, meaning it adjusts to the screen size, whether on a smartphone or a tablet.
Beyond a mobile-friendly website, consider a mobile-optimized online ordering system. If users have to pinch and zoom to see menu items or navigate through a cumbersome checkout process, they might abandon their cart.
And while you’re at it, why not think about a dedicated mobile app? With features like push notifications, loyalty rewards, and personalized offers, an app can boost customer engagement and repeat visits.
10. Invest in energy-efficient tech
Opting for energy-efficient technology is like killing two birds with one stone — you save on operational costs and contribute to environmental preservation.
Consider modern appliances like ENERGY STAR-rated refrigerators, smart thermostats, and LED lighting. These not only consume less power but also cut down on your energy bills.
And don’t overlook energy management information systems. They can provide a holistic approach to energy savings, giving you control and insights into your restaurant’s overall energy use.
In today’s world, a green approach isn’t just about the environment. It’s also about meeting your customers where their values are. Many consumers are environmentally conscious and prefer to patronize businesses that showcase a commitment to sustainability.
By investing in energy-efficient tech, you’re broadcasting a clear message — you care about the planet and are willing to do your part.
This stance not only paints your restaurant in a positive light but also attracts like-minded customers who share similar values, fostering a sense of community and shared responsibility.
Elevate your restaurant tech stack today
In the fast-paced world of the restaurant industry, having a robust tech stack is crucial for staying ahead. However, the essence of a truly efficient tech stack is a powerful delivery management system, and that’s exactly what Circuit for Teams offers.
Circuit for Teams can help bridge the gap between your restaurant’s operational needs and your customers’ expectations. Our software provides real-time tracking to keep your customers informed and engaged, and it optimizes your delivery processes, allowing you to cut delivery costs by up to 20%.
But the benefits don’t stop at customer satisfaction. Circuit for Teams empowers your restaurant to leverage advanced route optimization, making your delivery processes more efficient and reliable.
This optimization not only helps you save time but also reduces unnecessary delivery costs, allowing your restaurant to thrive and boost profitability in a competitive market.