New research looks at effect of technology on food-and-beverage

The National Restaurant Association released new research focusing on technology in the restaurant industry. In "Mapping the Restaurant Technology Landscape," the Association set out to explore current technology adoption in restaurants, plans for future adoption, and restaurant operators' thoughts and opinions on restaurant technology overall.

"Restaurant operators and consumers generally agree on the benefits of technology use in restaurants but they're also in agreement that while new technology is useful, it can complicate the restaurant experience," said Annika Stensson, director of research communications for the National Restaurant Association.

"About four in five restaurant operators agree that technology can help make restaurants more productive, increase sales and provide a competitive advantage. However, half say it also makes the customer experience more complicated. This research highlights the importance that user-friendly, streamlined tech solutions play in creating an innovative restaurant environment and that closing this divide will be a priority for the industry going forward," Stensson added.

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The extensive survey of more than 500 restaurant operators was sponsored by American Express.

 “As a long-time partner to the restaurant industry, American Express is constantly looking to deliver insights and resources that can help restaurant operators grow their businesses and be successful,” said Danielle Wallis, Vice President, Merchant Services-U.S. Industry Development, American Express. “Research like the National Restaurant Association’s survey demonstrates the integral role technology can play in helping restaurants enhance the customer experience, increase efficiencies and drive their businesses forward.”

The survey found varying adoption rates among restaurant industry segments and ownership categories. For example:

Limited-service restaurants have a significantly higher adoption rate of customer-facing technologies that facilitate speed of service or ease access to off-premises options such as online ordering, smartphone apps and mobile payment.

Franchisees and chain-owned restaurant operations have implemented more technology overall.

The report's key findings show:

  • 81 percent of restaurants use a POS or electronic register system.
  • 68 percent of restaurants offer Wi-Fi for guests.
  • 37 percent of restaurants offer online ordering.
  • 32 percent of restaurants accept mobile payment.
  • 53 percent of restaurant operators say they would implement predictive ordering technology if it were available to them today.
  • 37 percent of restaurant operators believe customer ordering is the most important area of technology development in the next five years.
  • 32 percent of restaurant operators consider their operations to be lagging when it comes to technology use.
  • 12 percent of operators consider their operations to be leading-edge.

"Operators say that costs in various forms remain the primary barrier to implementing more technology in their operations. Cost-effective solutions and strong arguments for ROI are going to make all the difference going forward, as operator interest in exploring the technology arena is clearly there," Stensson said.

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