Smart 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 solution for everything—and for good reason! Across the restaurant industry, technology has proven to help operators save time, drive sales, improve the guest experience, and outperform competitors. But how can you wade through the seemingly infinite pool of options to find the best solutions for your restaurant.

That’s where this list comes in. These tips and essential tools will help you determine which tech is best to help your restaurant reach the next level!

5 tips for building a strong restaurant technology stack

In business, a collection of different technology solutions are called a tech stack. You may not realize it, but your restaurant likely already has one! If you’re using a POS system, a website, or online ordering, each of those tools can be considered a part of it.

how restaurant technology connects

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 restaurant tech. 

To get started, it’s important to be clear and focused about your restaurant’s needs and goals so you select the restaurant technology that can make the biggest impact on your business.

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.

The best place to begin is 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
  • Marketing execution
  • Phone answering

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

Then, look for a foundation product that addresses all your highest priorities. 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

Whether starting with a new website or online ordering system, you’ll likely uncover needs and features you didn’t identify in your original list. That’s why it’s extremely important to find a foundation platform that is integration-friendly—meaning it can work together with the tech 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. There are plenty of seemingly great, free-to-use platforms that might try to nickel-and-dime you for every added feature.

Think about your guests

Any piece of restaurant technology should  make running your restaurant easier to improve the guest experience.

With that in mind, approach any customer-facing parts of your tech stack—online ordering system, menu designer, phone answering, 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

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 team. Ultimately, the success of any restaurant technology tool will depend on your staff’s ability to use it properly. We recommended getting buy-in and early training for any employees that will have the most experience with the technology. Their expertise can be an effective way to get other team members educated and excited about the new tools!

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 significant challenges that restaurant technology can solve. When choosing tech tools that will help build your online presence and digital guest experience, be sure to consider things like web design, search engine optimization, online menus, online ordering, POS integration, phone answering, and even reviews. 

Website management

One of the most essential pieces of restaurant tech stack is finding a platform that will help you build, host, and maintain your restaurant’s website

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

Google restaurant search

Menu design and management

Your online menu is often your restaurant’s first chance to make a good impression on guests. In a world where nearly 80% of Google searches are on a mobile device, having a PDF for your online menu won’t cut it. Invest in technology that turns your online menus into a dynamic experience. That means it provides guests with all of the information they need when trying to plan their next meal—such as dish photos and positive customer reviews.

Additionally, you’ll want a tool that makes it easy to update menu content and promote deals so your guests always have access to the most up-to-date information. 

Online ordering and delivery

Consumers have become more accustomed to ordering meals online, which means you need a solution that’s user-friendly. While third-party ordering solutions are plentiful, there are a number of drawbacks. Consider implementing first-party online ordering so you can save money on commissions and own the customer data collected at every transaction.

Make sure that whatever solution you use, it integrates with your POS so orders are seamlessly entered into your system without manual input from your staff.

Restaurant marketing

Guests love hearing directly from their favorite restaurants, especially if those messages include special promotions or discounts. Research has shown diners are even more responsive to personalized messages. Make sure your marketing solution takes into account customer data and behavior to create effective content.

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

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.

Automated phone answering

Answering every phone call is vital for restaurants looking to establish relationships with new customers. When surveyed, many diners said they are more likely to dine somewhere else if a restaurant doesn’t answer their calls. That’s why many operators have turned to automated phone answering.

Using artificial intelligence, these tools automatically respond to guest questions using information from a restaurant’s website and Google Business Profile. This ensures every call is answered and saves staff valuable time from talking on the phone. Make sure your solution is able to text guests links to online ordering or reservation platforms to limit the reasons a call might need to be forwarded to your team.

The essential technology platform for restaurants

Sorting through the long list of technology solutions for your restaurant can feel overwhelming, that’s where Popmenu can help! Our platform includes website and menu management, first-party online ordering, a suite of marketing tools, and AI phone answering to provide restaurants with all of the essential technology they need in one place. 

Interested in how Popmenu can help your restaurant? Schedule a free demo with one of our experts to learn more!

Front of the House Resource

Restaurant Email Marketing Guide

Our tips and best practices for restaurant email marketing are combined into this robust toolkit. From the anatomy of a good email, to planning and creating craveable content—this free resource is sure to inspire you next email.

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