How Restaurants Can Feast On The Growing Appetite For High-Tech Innovation

Dean Afzal

Let’s go out for dinner tonight!

Sounds like a great idea. Your mind generates pleasant images – soft lighting, satisfying food, a break from the standard home life, no dishes to wash. It is an idealized scenario.

In picturing it, customers tend to overlook some of the less-enjoyable but very common annoyances of dining out, such as waiting in line, waiting to order, and waiting to pay. We forget about the challenges of limited menus, especially for people with food allergies, or the tendency for the tab to creep substantially upwards, especially when one glass of wine becomes two.

We accept these inconveniences as a regular part of restaurant dining, but they do not have to stay that way. A few restaurants around the world are now experimenting with a digital menu that will change the dining experience entirely.

It appears on a customers’ phone or tablet as an app, and it handles many of the supporting aspects of the dining experience, from booking a table to placing an order, investigating a meal’s nutritional information, receiving pairing suggestions, and paying digitally without having to wait for the server to return.

This is an example of how high-tech innovation improves service for the dining customer while giving restaurant management greater access to vital data. Management can observe the way customers browse the electronic menus, the items they choose, those they pass on, and their methods of researching, decision-making, and payment.

After capturing and analyzing this data, a restaurant could then opt to share it with other channel partners like food distributors, beverage and liquor suppliers, advertising agencies, and property managers. The list of potential partners in the data-sharing exercise is huge, even those whose apparent relationship to actual dining might be distant.

Movie theaters, for example, might share data with restaurants to better coordinate show times and to present highly individualized offers to convince those diners who may not have considered seeing a movie after their meal to do so.

When they share customer data with their suppliers, forward-thinking restaurateurs enter into multi-sided business relationships, a staple of the new high-tech economy. They start to pull away from the traditional siloed approach to data retention and lay out a path for repeat business, long-term monetization, and more creative relationships with industry partners.

The multi-sided business relationship is just one of the opportunities available. It creates a more agile culture, better attuned to the social media-dominated marketplace. Real-time analysis and the refinement of data identify mobile moments for customers, help in the design of new processes for enhanced engagement, and most importantly, tailor the relationships – both retail and B2B – by leveraging “in-the-moment” personalization capabilities.

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