Friday, December 29, 2023

Increased Tech Adoption Once Again Insights on What’s Next


The team at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions® has not talked to an operator in any sector of retail foodservice that wants to spend more money on technology. That said, you will and accoding to our own Grocerant Guru® Steven Johnson,  Paul Damaren, Chief Revenue Officer at RizePoint is one of the ones you should at least listen too.

Here is wat Paul had to say about 2024 recenlty, “many within the restaurant industry wish we could see into the future and anticipate what’s on the horizon for 2024. While we, unfortunately, don’t have a crystal ball that can predict the future, we do have some indications about what’s in store for our sector in the new year. The anticipated 2024 theme is increased adoption of advanced technologies, including AI, IoT, blockchain, and machine learning. These innovations will help us optimize and improve all aspects of our businesses.

In the new year, expect restaurants to leverage tech solutions to:

§  Optimize operations – Many restaurants harnessed tech solutions to enhance inventory management, streamline supply chains, improve food safety, and more. These tech solutions also provided brand managers with critical data, allowing them to make more informed business decisions on everything from purchasing to scheduling.

§  Boost automation – Labor typically accounts for one of restaurants’ largest operating expenses, so many brands are hoping to cut costs by automating certain tasks, especially as the labor shortage continues. For instance, Sweetgreen has added automation to their kitchen in certain locations, improving accuracy, quality, consistency, productivity, and profit margins. This tech-driven automation dispenses ingredients into 500 bowls per hour, saving labor costs, improving efficiency, and boosting quality control. Interestingly, Sweetgreen is experiencing 50% higher visits at locations with automation vs. their stores without it, and the chain plans to add automation to all its restaurants within the next few years. In 2024, expect more restaurants to follow suit. Chipotle, for example, is testing automation for their salads and bowls. By 2026, the automated food market is expected to be worth an astounding $28 billion globally.

§  Elevate convenience. Technology is making the guest experience far more convenient. In the coming year, more restaurants will feature a one-button checkout experience using stored payment details. Anticipate more tech-enabled, contactless solutions, including mobile ordering and payment, QR code menus, and self-serve kiosks, which will likely enhance convenience and safety. Restaurant tech will also suggest customized offers, add-ons, and new items based each guest’s purchasing history, personal preferences, and dietary needs.

§  Gain data-driven insights – In the new year, expect an increased focus on leveraging data analytics to gain insights into customer behavior. Restaurants will use this valuable data to anticipate customer preferences, track dining habits, and predict peak hours. This will help managers make smarter decisions about every facet of their business, from purchasing strategies to optimizing staff schedules.

§  Improve customer engagement – Restaurants are wisely using tech tools to intensify customer engagement, such as using data analytics to drive personalization and loyalty programs. Accessing a deeper level of insights into customers’ evolving needs allows restaurant brands to meet (and exceed) guests’ expectations. When brands focus on customer service innovation – and personalizing customer experiences, offerings, and recommendations – it boosts customer relationships, loyalty, and retention.

§  Enhance personalization – Did you know that 79% of consumers want personalized menu items based on their purchasing history? Therefore, an important trend for 2024 will be personalized menus, recommendations, and service that meets guests’ individualized needs and dietary requirements. Savvy restaurants will use tech tools to customize all aspects of the dining experience. Expect to see more tailored marketing messages, as well as customized recommendations based on guests’ past purchases. In short, technology will help restaurants connect with customers on a deeper level.

§  Offer omnichannel experiences – Restaurants will continue to invest in their online presence and mobile apps technology, providing elevated, consistent omnichannel experiences. This means that whether a customer dines in, orders takeout, or gets delivery, they’ll receive the same high level of personalization, convenience, quality, and engagement. Additionally, anticipate more loyalty rewards and targeted promotions tailored to individual preferences.

§  Amplify food safety – Food safety and quality remains a focus for restaurants, who are increasingly relying on advanced technologies, including AI and IoT, to maintain the highest food safety standards. Innovative equipment – from smart refrigerators to Bluetooth sensors – indicate any anomalies that could potentially cause a food safety breach. For instance, smart refrigerators generate alarms when temperatures deviate out of the safe range so employees can immediately rectify the situation and prevent food spoilage.

§  Boost sustainability – In 2023, sustainability was a priority within the food industry, as consumers demanded more eco-friendly practices. Restaurants met – and will continue to meet – this call, using technology to monitor (and improve) their eco-friendly practices, reduce waste, enhance ethical sourcing, boost supply chain sustainability, pivot away from single-use plastics, etc.

§  Improve supply chain transparency and resilience – Supply chain disruptions persist, so it’s essential to use tech tools to ensure the steady flow (and safety!) of products. In 2024, restaurants will leverage data analytics and real-time tracking to anticipate and mitigate supply chain disruptions. Blockchain technology, in particular, will play a pivotal role in enhancing supply chain transparency and resilience.

§  Improve traceability – As the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) approaches its deadline, restaurants will focus on meeting the document’s guidelines. This includes preventing foodborne illnesses and ensuring traceability across the food supply chain. The FSMA adoption will be driven by heightened consumer demand for enhanced food traceability, as well as tech advancements for monitoring and compliance. The industry will work collaboratively to create and maintain a safer, more secure food supply.

§  Meet regulatory compliance – Although it can be challenging to stay current on ever-changing food safety regulations, restaurants rose to the challenge last year. Many brands took proactive efforts to monitor regulatory changes and implement protocols to ensure compliance and mitigate risks, a trend that’s predicted to continue next year.

The future of restaurants is tech-driven, and the most successful establishments will embrace tech solutions. Innovations like AI, IoT, blockchain, and machine technology will help restaurants improve safety, quality, efficiency, transparency, personalization, and more. Restaurant leadership would be wise to adopt tech advancements, using these solutions to meet (and exceed!) customers’ expectations. The key to success in 2024 is to leverage technology to stay relevant – and boost customer loyalty – amidst increasing competition.

Paul Damaren is Chief Revenue Officer 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, Hard Rock International, 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 and/or contact the team to learn how these solutions can help your company”

Foodservice Solutions® specializes in outsourced business development. We can help you identify, quantify and qualify additional food retail segment opportunities or a new menu product segment and brand and menu integration strategy.  Foodservice Solutions® of Tacoma WA is the global leader in the Grocerant niche visit us on our social media sites by clicking one of the following links: Facebook,  LinkedIn, or Twitter

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