There’s no denying that the past two years have been rough on the restaurant industry. Many had to permanently close their doors during the COVID-19 crisis, but plenty managed to stay afloat and are slowly climbing back to financial health. One thing has become apparent in today’s post-pandemic world: survival will depend on your ability to adapt to technological shifts in the industry.
Here at Chowly, we’re always keeping a pulse on what’s developing in the restaurant world to help our customers succeed. Here are five emerging trends to watch in 2023.
(1) Progress in dynamic pricing in restaurants
Dynamic pricing has been successful across many industries, and now restaurateurs are experimenting to see how it works in the food space. Not only does it help combat rising food costs, but can also be used for order throttling: you can set prices based on weekday and weekend to either drive demand during slower periods or capitalize on premiums at your busiest times.
There’s still more to iron out before restaurants of all sizes can embrace dynamic pricing, but with companies like Juicer and Sauce gaining early traction, the future is promising.
(2) Fully autonomous delivery
We haven’t reached the point of autonomous delivery through self-driving cars or drones yet, but we’ll see significant progress in 2023. As the economy continues to shift and costs rise, customers will continue turning to delivery and eating at home. What does this mean for innovation? Delivery will become more efficient, with kitchen robotics partnering with GPS intel to ensure that meals arrive fresh and hot.
(3) Loyalty programs as a way to retain customers
Another trend continuing to gain traction for restaurants is the use of loyalty programs to invest in an already existing customer base. Nearly three-quarters of restaurants with loyalty programs recently reported that continuing their loyalty programs would be critical to maintaining post-pandemic business. Over half of restaurants surveyed without loyalty programs indicated they wanted to start a program in their business.
Some restaurants extend loyalty programs through value offerings – for example, specialty menus with items falling under $5 – and others have begun experimenting with Web3 elements similar to a digital Groupon for loyalty members.
Celebrating a loyal customer base goes a long way in staying afloat and can include the passive benefit of free advertising of word-of-mouth recommendations from your happy customers.
(4) Use of AI
AI can sound intimidating, but it has some practical uses for restaurant owners. AI-powered voice command can streamline phone orders and the drive-thru experience. Self-service kiosks can help redirect staff’s energy while providing customers with additional customization options – all within an appealing user interface.
We’ll also see an uptick in the use of AI across various aspects of order preparation: Flippy, the robotic arm running the french fry station at select White Castle locations, made a splash in 2022 and is a picture of what’s coming soon across the globe.
(5) Predictive analytics and data products to support restaurant health
This recession has been tough on restaurants, with inflation and supply chain issues making it even harder to survive. It’s clear that the restaurants that best control their costs (i.e., labor and food) are the ones who will make it out on top. We’re not talking about robots anymore: we’re talking about product flow, sales projections, and the smart use of robust data around the customer life cycle and other crucial KPIs.
There will be a number of tech companies and startups building data products for the next advancement of business-enhancing restaurant tech. Companies like 5out and ClearCOGS, while in the early stages, are proving with their growth that restaurants need help forecasting some of their highest costs.
The future is bright.
Change can be hard – but you already know that as a restaurant owner. Technology helps restaurants make the most of transitions within the industry. At Chowly our goal is to make the technology work for you and your business rather than overwhelm you. With the proper tools and support, your business can flourish in 2023 and beyond.