Smart Technology

7 essential restaurant technologies you need to know

These 7 restaurant technologies are essential for restaurants of all sizes to stay relevant and competitive, streamline their operations, and boost their revenue.

By adopting these 7 technologies, restaurants can keep up with the digital revolution that's happening. That means staying competitive, streamlining operations, and boosting revenue. Here's what modern restaurants need.

A Mobile-Optimized Website

Your restaurant's website serves many different purposes in a digital world. It should:

  • Provide important information like hours of operation, locations, and contact information.
  • Keep guests updated on events, promotions, and specials.
  • Allow guests to browse your menu.
  • Direct guests to online ordering and delivery options (more on that further down).
  • Offer the same great browsing experience whether guests find you on a desktop computer or (more likely) a mobile device.

According to an MGH survey, 77 percent of guests visit a restaurant’s website before they decide to dine in, order takeout, or even get delivery. What's more, 68 percent of consumers report that they've been discouraged from visiting a restaurant after seeing its website, which means your website creates a vital first impression that could be the difference between gaining a new customer or missing out on business altogether.

But in 2021, there's another crucial consideration for restaurant websites: whether they're mobile-friendly. Today's internet users are moving away from desktop computers and toward mobile devices—more than half (55 percent) of all search traffic now comes from smartphones. If your website is difficult to browse or read on small screens, guests are likely to get frustrated and go elsewhere.

A Search-Optimized Online Menu

The next essential restaurant technology is part of your website, but so important it deserves its own section: your online menu.

So many restaurants simply upload a PDF version of their menu to their website and call it a day. But with more than half of all web searches coming from mobile devices, that's a serious problem. A PDF menu can be difficult (or even impossible) to read on a small screen, leaving guests to pinch and zoom just to see what dishes you offer. Studies show that 30 percent of consumers are put off by menus that are difficult to read, so a PDF menu could be literally driving guests away.

But there's another big problem with PDFs: Google can't read their text. That means the contents of your menu don't get indexed for Google searches. An important part of your restaurant's website (and online menu) is its search engine optimization (SEO), which is how hungry potential guests in your area find your website when they search for things like "burgers near me."

Your online menu needs to be mobile-friendly and searchable, which calls for solutions like dynamic menu technology.

Digital Marketing Tools that Meet Guests Where They Are

One of the biggest benefits of technology for restaurants is how easy it makes it to find and reach new customers. 

From social media to email newsletters to SMS remarketing that turns first-time guests into loyal regulars, restaurants need to go all-in on digital marketing strategies that are proven to work for their industry.

Digital marketing can feel intimidating, since most restaurateurs aren't marketers. But the right tools make it easy—or even automate the entire process so you can take advantage of proven marketing channels without investing a lot of time, money, or work. 

Learn more: 11 Top Restaurant Marketing Tools

Direct Online Ordering and Delivery

The COVID-19 pandemic caused online orders and restaurant delivery (already a fast-growing segment of the industry) to explode in popularity. Now, restaurants that don't offer online ordering and delivery are in danger of being left behind by those that do.

Many restaurants opt to use third-party delivery platforms, which offer some benefits (like built-in marketing and an all-in-one platform guests can use to browse menus, place orders, and track their delivery). But those platforms charge high fees that can severely cut into a restaurant's bottom line. The restaurants that are getting ahead today are those using technology to offer direct online ordering through their own websites, keeping those commissions and fees as their own revenue.

AI Marketing Solutions

Marketing is an important part of running any successful restaurant, but it can be difficult to find the time to write out a consistent content schedule. That's why owners are taking advantage of AI marketing solutions that use data from their website to draft a calendar chock full of emails, texts, and social posts that are unique to their restaurant. By freeing up time from writing, restaurants save time while still connecting with guests and generating additional sales.

Digital Waitlisting

A busy, fully booked restaurant is the dream. But manually managing a big, handwritten book of reservations and names on the waitlist can quickly become a nightmare for front-of-house employees who should spend their time focusing on guests.

That's why digital waitlisting tools—many of them with automation features—are becoming a must-have technology tool for restaurants. Waitlist apps take over the hard, manual work of managing your waitlist and communicating with guests about their wait times. They also make sure guests never fall through the cracks, like they can when a busy host is tasked with keeping track of the reservation book by hand.

As an added bonus, waitlist apps collect valuable guest data (like their contact information) that you can use to remarket to them later, encouraging more guests to make repeat visits to your restaurant.

AI Phone Answering

Speaking of how busy your front-of-house staff can get during a packed dinner service, what happens when your restaurant's phone rings and no one is free to answer it?

We surveyed restaurant guests and found that when calling a restaurant to make a reservation, a whopping 42 percent of them will move on to another restaurant if their call goes to voicemail. Missing calls from guests can directly impact your number of reservations—and your bottom line—but it's impossible for a busy restaurant to keep someone next to the phone 24/7. So what's the solution? Technology that automatically answers your phones and uses AI to answer common, simple guest questions.

Having robots to answer your phones might sound straight out of a science fiction movie, but it's just one of the new, advanced pieces of restaurant technology that's become more accessible, thanks to the industry's tech revolution. Which brings us to the final tool on our list—the one all restaurants need if they want to reap the benefits of all the restaurant technologies featured in this article.

All the Tools You Need In 1 Platform: Popmenu

So to take advantage of all these restaurant technologies, you need to choose, invest in, and learn 7 different technology tools, right?

Thankfully, no. You can get all of these technologies in one platform: Popmenu.

Popmenu is the all-in-one digital toolkit for modern restaurants. 

You may already know of Popmenu because of its patented, one-of-a-kind, interactive menu technology. But Popmenu also includes website design, automated marketing tools, direct online order, delivery service integration, contactless dining tools, waitlisting, automatic phone answering, and even more, all in one platform. That means, instead of a sea of point solutions, you can get all the restaurant technologies you need for a single monthly price (that never goes up, guaranteed). 

Make this your restaurant's best (and most digital-forward) year yet. Sign up for a free Popmenu demo today.

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