A booming $90.8 billion industry, the future of restaurants in the U.S. continues to evolve in new and positive ways.
2024 will offer unprecedented opportunities for continued market expansion and tremendous avenues for growth. As we look toward a new year, the following five trends will continue to influence the restaurant industry.
1Assessing Tech Effectiveness
Working from home has changed the way consumers use restaurants, and mealtimes are blurring into all-day dining. Additionally, many restaurants are faced with orders coming in from multiple touchpoints – online, at the point-of-sale (POS), through a third-party delivery platform, from an app or tablet at the table, or a self-ordering kiosk. Restaurants that quickly adopted new technology to help combat these new demands spurred by the pandemic may be reassessing these tools with a more long-term outlook and will be evaluating what’s working and what isn’t.
2Order Accuracy and Speed = Guest Satisfaction
The restaurant industry has changed a lot in the last three years, but one thing remains the same – customers expect quality products in a timely manner with complete order accuracy. Technology solutions like Kitchen Display Systems (KDS) and liner-free labeling are necessary to assist in improving order accuracy, especially for multiple points of order origin. Moreover, labels are not just functional but also offer restaurants an opportunity to personalize labels with dynamic, on-demand printing.
3Labor-Saving Tech Solutions
Restaurants are still facing rising inflation and labor constraints. Implementation of self-ordering devices via kiosks will become more popular and can help alleviate workload, freeing up staff to focus on other customers with different needs or assist in other areas of the restaurant. These solutions also give merchants additional value-added ways to connect with their customers. For example, as part of the ordering process, customers may be prompted to provide or join the business’ loyalty program or log in and activate or redeem loyalty points. It also offers suggestions for complementary items and provides the option to add a tip.
4Customer Experience Still Reigns Supreme
An improved customer experience is still the most important thing in the restaurant industry today and in the future. Restaurants need to offer a complete experience for guests, taking control of the customer journey and the technology that drives it. Whether it is offering contactless payment options through self-service kiosks, smart phones, smart watches, tap and go, or a new delivery system that provides ease and flexibility for customers – more and more options will need to be offered and supported while maintaining the same high-quality experience.
5Online-Ordering is Here to Stay
While online-ordering continues to thrive via third-party delivery apps, expect more restaurants to start creating their own online platforms and apps for online and delivery orders. Additionally, ghost kitchens, cloud kitchens and virtual kitchens will continue to serve as additional options for fulfilling online orders for restaurants with specific online-only business models.
While the headwinds of 2023 will carry over into 2024, the future of the restaurant industry is brighter than ever. With the right tools, restaurants can streamline their operations, improve overall customer satisfaction, and find ways to circumvent challenges they face – ultimately helping restaurants sustain growth in the coming year and beyond.