As restaurants press on into 2022, they continue to increase their reliance on the latest restaurant technology tools and services as they navigate the complexities of serving customers during and after a pandemic.
It has been a gruelling few years for the restaurant industry, and the challenges are far from resolved. Variant spikes continue to disrupt consumer behavior, the ongoing labor shortage is hitting restaurants harder than in most sectors, and bottlenecks in the supply chain gum up the works as well.
The good news is that emerging restaurant technology solutions look to mitigate these challenges, helping restaurants overcome them and even thrive in 2022 and beyond. Below, we’ll show you some of the top restaurant technology trends in the industry. Let’s start with an overview of the state of the industry.
What is the state of restaurant technology?
Restaurant technology overall has been advancing rapidly, along with the pace of technology in general. The problem in recent years hasn’t been one of innovation but one of adoption; prior to 2020, much of the industry appeared to be complacent about adopting new tech. The large quick-service restaurant chains were investing in branded loyalty apps and order-ahead tech, but otherwise, there seemed to be little impetus to change the status quo.
It’s almost impossible to overstate how much the pandemic disrupted restaurants and, by extension, restaurant tech. Almost overnight, the status quo was no longer good enough. The restaurants that survived early COVID-19 closures suddenly faced an innovate-or-die moment. The ones that had already begun investing in new restaurant tech to better support omnichannel ordering, contactless interactions, analytics, and digital customer loyalty largely fared better than those that had not.
Where new restaurant technology requires on-premises hardware, supply chain issues and chip shortages continue to confound technology resellers, who sometimes struggle to source components and devices on time and on budget. These constraints are especially challenging given the way the restaurant industry has tended to respond to the pandemic: Most restaurants that need to upgrade tend to upgrade the same types of tech, exacerbating existing shortages.
Promising developments are still just out of reach
From an operator standpoint, many of the most promising developments look likely to disrupt the market, yet they remain just out of reach — still future promises rather than reality.
For example, kitchen automation technologies remain limited to specific narrow use cases, and costs remain high. While there’s little doubt that kitchens will become much more automated (especially in QSRs) over the coming decade, real-world game-changing technologies are hard to come by just yet.
The same goes for artificial intelligence and machine learning. While these technologies are beginning to improve behind-the-scenes software tools, they haven’t yet reached the point of being useful to the everyday operator.
The restaurant technology trends to know for 2022
As restaurant leaders and technology providers press on into 2022, these are four of the most significant restaurant technology trends that will influence the year.
1. Return to in-person dining, with off-premises demand remaining elevated
One restaurant technology trend with serious implications is the mix of order types and sources, which continues to grow in scope and complexity. In-person dining is back, yet off-premises orders (via phone, online, curbside, carryout, and so forth) remain elevated.
QSR Magazine notes that overall transaction volumes (on and off-premises) sit higher than they did before the pandemic. Restaurants must navigate increased volumes, often with beleaguered, inexperienced, and understaffed teams — and those teams must juggle a hybrid environment, with orders coming in from multiple streams.
Technology has numerous roles to play here, from more efficient order intake workflows to kitchen automation to AI-powered predictions of customer buying patterns.
2. Ghost kitchens and virtual brands continue to rise
Fueled by the pandemic-driven need for change and the resulting success restaurants found with the model, ghost kitchens, virtual brands, and other elements of off-premises models will continue to rise. We foretold this in our 2022 Predictions post, and thus far, this restaurant technology trend seems to be holding.
Restaurants increasingly struggle to balance their attention between in-person and delivery audiences. Those with the scale to do so may increasingly move ghost and virtual operations outside their traditional brick-and-mortar restaurant locations. The only limits to this sort of move involve finances, kitchen space, and technology support — all of which are solvable for QSR chains with deep pockets.
Independent restaurants with few locations, on the other hand, can continue to benefit from in-house ghost kitchens, expanding their reach into delivery-only audiences.
3. Tech will help mitigate supply chain issues and inflationary pressures
Restaurants have already had to curtail their menu offerings due to supply chain pressures. Many have adopted digital-first menus that can easily be edited, eighty-sixing items they can’t get stock for without obvious visual cues that anything has changed. Supply chain issues aren’t likely to ease anytime soon, so finding emerging restaurant technology and workarounds to these limitations will be an ongoing restaurant technology trend for 2022.Along those same lines, restaurants face intense pressure from inflation in the form of higher food costs. New technology in the restaurant industry can’t fix the cost of food directly. Still, it can help restaurants more quickly analyze how those food costs translate into specific dishes and even offer recommendations for appropriate pricing and portioning strategies.
4. Digitization of the foodservice industry reveals new insights and data
With the transformation of restaurants going digital, we have a treasure trove of online restaurant data. This includes everything from reviews and prices to menus and cookbooks for inspiration! Harnessing this newfound power can empower those looking in on the restaurant industry more closely as well as help any foodservice operators gain competitive intelligence so they’re not left behind during these changing times
Of course, restaurants need the right tools and the right partner in insights and data analytics to make their transaction data as powerful as it can be. And that’s where Brizo FoodMetrics comes in.
Make your food business smarter with Brizo FoodMetrics
In a world where the restaurant landscape is changing and technology has helped operators cope with supply chain issues, labor shortage etc., it’s no wonder that many restaurants today have turned into tech-savvy businesses. Understanding the needs and wants of today’s restaurant operators can be difficult. To make things easier, we have compiled restaurant data that will help you arm yourself with insight into what they are looking for in a vendor – all while understanding how your business compares!
Brizo FoodMetrics is a leading provider of benchmark data for all things foodservice, providing restaurant vendors with strategic data that can drive sales and increase lead generation. It’s an all-in-one restaurant intelligence platform with more than 1.2M contacts in the industry, offering proactive insights on who to call on first and why you should. Brizo transforms the approach you take to analyzing restaurant data, turning complicated data into actionable insights that drive smarter sales decisions. To see for yourself what Brizo can do, get started for free today.