by Paul Damaren, Executive Vice President, Business Development at RizePoint
What if there were tools that allowed your restaurant to improve food safety and quality, identify food safety risks, increase transparency along your entire supply chain, boost operational efficiencies, and elevate the customer experience? Today’s hottest tech trends can accomplish all these things – and more!
The hottest tech trends of 2023 – artificial intelligence, machine learning, the Internet of Things, blockchain, augmented reality and virtual reality – are instrumental to improving restaurants’ safety and quality programs and providing a host of other benefits, as well.
12 reasons that your restaurant should use these hot technologies include their ability to:
- Boost safety and quality. Artificial Intelligence (AI) can help restaurants improve their safety and quality programs. Machine learning algorithms can predict food safety risks based on various parameters, such as storage conditions, handling, etc. IoT devices monitor various safety and quality parameters, such as temperature, humidity, and vibration, in real-time to identify (and mitigate) risks. IoT provides constant feedback, allowing restaurants to act quickly to prevent safety breaches and quality degradation.
- Improve operational efficiencies. AI will elevate your operational efficiencies, automating tasks like inventory management, product ordering, etc. AI provides key insights on customer preferences and historical data to inform better decision-making. For example, AI-enabled software can track historical purchasing data, identify trends, and determine the proper quantities of supplies to order based on these insights. This way, you can ensure you’ll have proper inventory in stock, while reducing food waste that often comes from overbuying. Additionally, AI automates traditionally time-consuming tasks so your staff can focus their time and energy on providing an exceptional experience for guests.
- Elevate the customer experience. Machine learning uses complex algorithms to learn critical information, then makes predictions based on historical patterns. Consider how your online shopping habits result in targeted ads for related products. When McDonald’s used predictive technologies to analyze historical data about what customers ordered (and when), they improved their drive-thru operations. Predicting busier times allowed McDonald’s to increase staffing to accommodate the rush, and knowing which items would be most popular throughout the day informed ordering and prep. As a result, McDonald’s was able to successfully shave off 30 seconds of drive-thru wait times to improve the customer experience.
- Reduce waste. An astounding 22 to 33 billion pounds of food is wasted in US restaurants each year. IoT sensors can monitor kitchen equipment to improve food safety and prevent waste. For instance, smart refrigerators can automate inventory tracking and use-by dates for more efficient food management. IoT can also help restaurant managers anticipate product needs based on sales, order new products based on historic demand, and avoid overstocking perishable items that will need to be tossed if not used promptly. And restaurants can use blockchain to track supply levels and the expiration dates of their products so they can use ingredients mindfully and minimize waste.
- Ensure product authenticity. Blockchain can also provide food authentication through increased transparency and traceability. Restaurants can leverage blockchain technology to ensure the food they’re getting is safe, authentic, and high-quality. Blockchain can trace food back to its source to prevent food fraud and increase food safety. As foods reach different checkpoints along the supply chain, data is documented in blockchain ledgers, providing real-time visibility during every step of each product’s journey. This allows restaurants to identify potential contamination, mishandling, and/or errors. Since blockchain technology integrates seamlessly with third-party verification systems, it helps eliminate fraud and validate compliance.
- Elevate safety training. Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) will improve training programs and make information more memorable. Using VR to simulate emergency situations – and/or role play common scenarios – will engage and motivate employees better than any safety poster or workbook ever could. Use AR to provide sample situations so employees can make real-time decisions about proper protocols – and immediately learn from any mistakes.
- Improve food allergy protocols. Do your employees struggle to remember every ingredient in every dish you serve? That can be extremely dangerous for food-allergic guests, who need reassurance about what they can safely eat in your restaurant. AR can help you better communicate menu information to guests through their smartphones. As a result, your employees can easily, accurately communicate allergens in each dish so food-allergic guests can confidently order meals that will be safe for them to eat.
- Cut costs. AI technology can automate many tasks, like taking orders, conducting inventory, or buying supplies. By automating and streamlining administrative tasks, you can spend less money on staffing – and boost your bottom-line. Additionally, using IoT to order products based on sales patterns will help you only order what you need and avoid costly waste.
- Reduce errors. Human errors are common in restaurants, especially during busy shifts when employees are rushed and harried. For example, a server in a crowded dining room might misunderstand a guest’s order and serve them the wrong dish. This could be devastating in the case of a food allergy, where a simple mistake could make the guest sick (or even kill them). Using AI to take orders means less chance of human error, which can protect your guests – and your restaurant’s reputation.
- Improve scheduling. Labor is one of the biggest expenses for restaurants. Therefore, proper staffing and scheduling is essential. Too many employees on a shift are a waste of money, but too few employees can cause long wait times and diminish the customer experience. Now, restaurants can use AI-enabled software to track sales data to determine historical trends. Armed with that information, they can staff appropriately for the anticipated traffic and sales for each shift.
- Optimize food delivery. The COVID pandemic forever changed food delivery demands. Food delivery soared during the pandemic, and that trend continues today. Many restaurants are relying on AI technology to optimize their delivery processes, such as determining the most efficient routes for delivery drivers and using data to avoid traffic. AI also allows guests to track their orders – like how Dominos allows customers to monitor their pizzas from the oven to their doorstep. Using AI technology allowed Dominos to improve the accuracy of their customer monitoring from 75% to 95%.
- Enhance data privacy and security. Data privacy and security is essential in all industries, and restaurants are no exception. Data breaches have become more widespread and can be extremely damaging to an organization’s reputation. Blockchain protects digital transactions, prevents hacks and data tampering, and keeps customer data – including credit and debit card information – safe and secure.
These hot tech trends are becoming increasingly essential for restaurants, allowing them to improve safety and quality programs, boost transparency, increase efficiency, elevate training, enhance security, and more. From reducing safety risks to improving transparency and traceability across the entire supply chain, the sky’s the limit for what restaurants can do with these innovative tech solutions.
Paul Damaren is Executive Vice President, Business Development at RizePoint, a technology leader in the food safety, quality management, compliance, and social responsibility space. RizePoint’s quality management software solutions help companies, including Starbucks, McDonald’s, Marriott, and more, keep brand promises through their quality, safety, and compliance efforts. Customers gather better data, see necessary actions earlier, and act faster to correct issues before they become costly liabilities. Check out RizePoint’s website to learn how these solutions can help your company.