Editor’s Note: This blog has been adapted from The Kinettix Guide to QSR Tech. Click here to download the guide in full.
The quick service industry is constantly evolving — especially as the world grapples with a public health emergency. Recent shifts in the industry have impacted daily operations, causing restaurant operators to look for viable solutions.
Fortunately, restaurant IT vendors and managed services providers can help their QSR clients keep pace by deploying the right technology in response to the following challenges.
Top 4 Challenges in Today’s QSR Market
1. Increasing mobile orders
Writing for Star Micronics POS, Heidi Orpilla cites a significant statistic: “Currently 60% of Americans order delivery or takeout once a week.” Online ordering gives customers more control, so food orders via mobile apps online are typically 20% higher than over the counter, which can help restaurants boost revenue.
From an operations perspective, mobile orders can also remove bottlenecks at the register. But this benefit only materializes if restaurants have the necessary resources.
According to a 2019 study by Rakuten Ready, timely food delivery is a significant factor for customer satisfaction. Having to wait once at the restaurant was a resounding frustration among participants. Some noted that restaurants didn’t prepare their food until they were already in the store.
To overcome this challenge, today’s QSRs need tools that will help them efficiently fulfill mobile orders and meet consumer expectations. From cloud-based software that automatically sends mobile orders to the kitchen to arrival technology that alerts workers when Order for Pickup customers are approaching, restaurants’ must make the most of their tech stack.
2. The need for safe self-service options
In the Star Micronics POS article, Orpilla also notes that the demand for self-service kiosks is expected to climb to $30.8 billion by 2024. “Self-service technology engages with customers digitally, which is what people prefer,” she explains.
The problem, though, is that touch-based kiosks could now be considered a health and safety risk. As a result, a 2020 Deloitte report suggests that adoption of this technology could slow if not reverse all together.
The challenge becomes finding a way to address this demand for self-service without relying on traditional touch-based tech.
According to QSR Magazine, Newk’s Eatery may have found one option. Reports say the fast casual chain started implementing “hardware-less kiosks'' amid the pandemic. They cleverly mounted placards throughout the dining room with instructions to scan a QR code. Doing so downloaded a web app where guests could quickly order and pay via their smartphone.
3. Changing consumer preferences
Current QSR challenges go beyond the growth in mobile orders and the increased demand for self-service options. Consumer preferences are changing across the board — and not just because of the pandemic.
Yes, COVID-19 has increased the need for frictionless digital tools that minimize interactions between customers and staff. But the prevalence of smartphones, high-speed internet, and other technologies have caused consumers to expect convenience and speed on the whole.
For example, they want to be able to quickly scan a QR code or browse a well-lit digital display. They want to be able to pay for their food in the way that makes the most sense for them — whether that’s in cash or through Apple Pay. They want to be able to get in and out of the drive thru with minimal wait times. If they ordered online, they want to wait in a dedicated parking space or go through a dual drive-thru, rather than waiting in line with everyone else.
More than ever before, QSR owners need to lean on technology and innovation to meet the challenges of a post COVID world and rapidly changing market demands.
4. Adapting to a post-COVID reality
QSRs must rely on technology to remain resilient in a post-COVID economy. In fact, according to a recent food services and food retail survey by Panasonic, 100% of respondents say agility has been a driving factor for business decisions since the pandemic began.
Technology that promotes resilience is now more important than ever before. Automation tools such as cloud-based kitchen management software and food temperature sensors, for example, can help QSRs increase efficiency and reduce costs by streamlining middle- and back-of-house tasks. They can also provide valuable insight into areas of improvement.
Think about drive-thru timers. These devices measure how quickly a restaurant is taking, processing, and fulfilling orders. This data can then illuminate potential bottlenecks and help operators address inefficiencies and increase their speed of service.
QSR operators who wish to be agile and resilient in the post-COVID marketplace require quality field services to implement these technologies.
To accurately address these challenges, managed service providers and restaurant IT vendors must help their QSR clients deploy the right technologies at the right time — without creating any interruptions in service. Download the Kinettix Guide to QSR Tech for more on how to help your QSR clients stay agile and resilient.