Technology

Restaurant Technology: Essential Tools for Modern Restaurants

Restaurant technology can be hard to navigate—here are the essentials a modern restaurant needs to build the perfect tech stack.

We live in a digital world, which means there’s a technology tool for everything

All industries are adjusting to the sharp rise in technology that’s now available. The newest struggle for busy restaurateurs? Wading through the sea of available tools and picking out the ones that will help the restaurant run without making processes too complex or cutting into the bottom line.

A lot of the restaurant technology we’ve seen emerge in the digital age is flashy, but ultimately unnecessary. How do you cut through the noise to determine which technology tools you actually need—both to keep up with your competition, and to streamline your operations to save time and money while better serving your guests?

That’s where this list comes in.

Investing in restaurant technology is necessary if you want to keep up; but there is some restaurant technology you can skip altogether.

Creating the perfect combination of technology tools will look different for every restaurant— depending on location, clientele, staff, service volume, and budget. But these tips and essential tools will help every restaurant determine what technology is necessary to reach the next level.

5 Tips for Building a Strong Restaurant Technology Stack

In startups, it’s called a tech stack: A collection of different technology tools that all work together to help make your business run.

Now, let’s be honest, restaurants aren’t exactly known for being on the cutting edge of technology; and given the slim profit margins that usually come along with restaurant operations, it’s unsurprising that cost is often a major barrier to investing and adopting new, untested restaurant tech. 

The key to choosing the restaurant technology that will help your business and boost your bottom line, is to be clear and focused about your restaurant’s needs and goals. 

Consider What You Want Your Tech Stack to Do

The sheer number of suppliers and restaurant technology products can be overwhelming. For many restaurants, the toughest challenge is just figuring out where to start.

Unfortunately, this is no easy job, and there’s no shortcut or quick tip that will help you get it done faster. You just have to consider what you need your tech stack to do for you. Some common needs are:

  • Menu management
  • Online ordering and delivery support
  • Website design
  • POS integration
  • Reservation management and waitlisting

We recommend making your own prioritized list of your restaurant’s needs. 

Then, look for a foundation product that addresses all your highest priority needs. With the sheer number of platforms available, you’re likely to be able to find one that has the right functionality to address most, if not all the top needs in your list. 

Make Sure Your Foundation is Integration-Friendly

As your restaurant starts using its new technology, you’ll likely come across new needs and features you’d like to have. That’s why it’s extremely important to make sure your foundation platform is integration-friendly—meaning it can work together with the restaurant technology you already use, and is set up to integrate with a wide variety of other tools you might want to add to your tech stack in the future.

Think About the Cost

You already know how important it is to consider cost for any new investment. 

In particular, when you’re looking to future integrations with other tools, mind the cost for plug-ins and add-ons. A seemingly great platform might not be the right fit if every added feature comes with an increase to the cost.

Think About Your Guests

The first goal of any piece of restaurant technology should be to simplify and streamline your restaurant’s operations to better guest experience. 

With that in mind, approach any customer-facing parts of your tech stack—online ordering system, menu designer, mobile app, etc.—with your guests’ needs and behaviors  in mind. They need tools that are functional, but are also simple and pleasant to use.

Think About Your Staff

And finally, consider your staff when choosing new tools. Adding to your restaurant's tech stack is likely to change existing processes and may even require new training for your staff. Ultimately, the success of any restaurant technology tool will depend on your staff’s ability to use it properly. 

Essential Features for a Restaurant Tech Stack

As we just discussed, every restaurant will have different priorities for its technology tools. However, in the digital age, there are some essential processes that restaurant technology can help streamline and simplify. When choosing tech tools that will help build your online presence and digital guest experience, be sure to consider things like web design, SEO, online menus, online ordering, POS integration, reservations and even reviews. 

Website Management

One of the most essential pieces of restaurant technology is website management—a platform that will help you build, host, and maintain your restaurant’s web presence. 

It is an absolute necessity for restaurants to be online. It’s how guests find restaurants, it’s how they browse  menus, and increasingly, it’s how they place orders.

Menu Design and Management

Did you know that 80% of restaurant searches take place on a mobile device?

That means that PDF online menus, which require guests to pinch and zoom to read tiny text, create a pretty terrible user experience.

In this digital culture, your online menu is often your first point of contact with guests; think about investing in tools that make dynamic online menus that live within your website and interact with potential guests. An extra tip? Make sure your online menu tool makes it easy to promote deals, swap out specials, swap seasonal menus, and perform additional menu management tasks.

Online Ordering and Delivery

Online ordering is becoming more and more popular—especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. Not only do you need restaurant technology tools that offer a user-friendly interface for online ordering, but you should be able to integrate it with your POS so orders are entered seamlessly, and with any third-party delivery services you use.

Ease of Use

Your new restaurant technology won’t do you any good if you can’t use it. It’s essential for tools to be user-friendly, even for the less tech savvy among us, and to integrate seamlessly with other common and popular tools used by restaurants.

Broad Range of Marketing Tools

One area where technology has the opportunity to make a huge impact for restaurants is through marketing. The right tech tools can allow you to collect the data needed to re-market to your guests, turning them from first-timers to regulars.

With that in mind, whatever technology tools you choose should allow you to capture and own that guest information (unlike third-party delivery apps, for example, which don’t share data with restaurants). 

If you haven’t considered a need for restaurant marketing tools, consider how much additional traffic you could bring in if you could create a previous guest email list, launch email campaigns offering promotions and specials, and post to your restaurant’s social media on a regular basis. When guests start thinking about what they want to eat, your restaurant will be top-of-mind. 

Reservation Management

Finally, many restaurants are turning to technology to help better manage (or automate) their reservations and waitlisting. This is a popular feature for guests, who increasingly want to be able to make restaurant reservations online or join virtual wait lists for busy eateries.

Popmenu: The All-In-One Restaurant Technology Tool You Have to Have

Overwhelmed? We don’t blame you.

There’s so much that restaurant technology can do to help busy restaurants succeed—but that all depends on choosing the right technologies with the right features and integrations at the right price. 

What if one tool could just do it all—for an affordable, flat monthly fee?

That tool is Popmenu.

Just take a look at some of the features Popmenu offers (or has coming soon):

  • Website Management
  • Menu Management
  • Multi Location Menu Management
  • Physical Menu Designer
  • Native iOS & Android Client Apps
  • Online Ordering
  • 3rd Party Delivery Integration
  • Digital Gift Card Creation
  • Google My Business Integration
  • Events Calendar
  • QR Codes
  • Native Email Support
  • Mass SMS
  • Scheduled Social Posting
  • Automated Re-Marketing
  • Offers/Promo Code Generation
  • Dish Photos and Reviews
  • Reservations
  • Waitlisting

If it looks like that list covers every one of the restaurant technology essentials we listed earlier, it’s because it does. 

Popmenu offers all of those features, all in one platform, all for a low monthly fee. With other popular restaurant technology solutions, you need plug-ins and add-ons that make your tech stack complex and expensive. With Popmenu, it’s all there, and you don’t have to pay extra for any of it.

Building your restaurant tech stack doesn’t have to be expensive or complex. Look to Popmenu for your website and a full suite of tools that work seamlessly together to save you time and money.

Ready to see for yourself? Schedule your Popmenu demo today.