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How Mobile Technology is Changing the Foodservice Industry

Oct.19.2015
10:57:49 AM

foodservice mobile appNearly two-thirds of Americans own a smartphone, according to the Pew Research Center’s “U.S. Smartphone Use in 2015” report. Smartphone ownership is particularly prevalent among younger Americans and those with higher education and income levels. Fifteen percent of smartphone users also report that they have limited options for going online other than their cell phone.

Couple these smartphone stats with the fact that Americans are now spending more money on dining out than on groceries, and you’ve got a recipe for innovation in foodservice – mobile technology.

Here are a few ways the foodservice industry is keeping up with the mobile revolution.

Mobile Apps
With so many consumers depending on smartphones to meet many of their needs, now is the time for foodservice brands to expand and enhance their mobile presence. In the NRA’s 2015 Culinary Forecast, 26% of respondents believed that smartphone and tablet apps designed for consumer use (such as apps for deals and specials, menus, and ordering) would be a hot trend for the year. Burger King’s branded mobile app, for example, allows users to explore the chain’s menu and access mobile-only coupons.

On the industry side, mobile apps can be leveraged by chefs and kitchen or operations staff to track inventory and invoices, schedule deliveries, manage tables, perform POS tracking, and organize recipes. There are even apps that allow users to access foodservice equipment service and instructional manuals as well as food safety or health inspection documentation.

Mobile Menus
Customers have to look no further than their own pocket to find a restaurant menu: it’s in their phone. Digital menus and mobile-optimized websites are practically requirements for modern foodservice operators. Food trucks that are often on-the-go and in different locations (sometimes daily) can use mobile menus to advertise the day’s selections. But it doesn’t end there – even some school districts are offering mobile menus to allow students and parents to see the upcoming breakfast and lunch options. Whether checking out a brick and mortar establishment or stopping by a food truck, consumers want to peruse the menu in advance in a way that’s convenient for them – and in today’s world that means mobile.

Mobile Ordering
With mobile ordering, foodservice operators can accept orders from customers in a fast, reliable and secure way. These apps can allow customers to save their favorite orders and improve group ordering. Customers that are in a rush can quickly pre-order their meal and avoid waiting in long lines at the register. The average time-crunched American appreciates the speediness and convenience that mobile ordering offers. (Consumers are already tweeting their praise for Starbucks’ new mobile ordering function.)

Mobile Payment
Of all the technologies making their way into the foodservice industry, perhaps none has received more buzz than mobile payment. Like other retailers, restaurants and foodservice operators are feeling the pressure to adapt to a cash-less/card-less model. The “digital wallet” allows customers to pay without ever digging into their wallet.

Mobile payment also includes POS technology such as transaction systems and mobile card readers. Rather than waiting for a server to collect their card for payment, customers can utilize an on-table mobile device to swipe their card and pay as soon as they are ready to leave the restaurant. Without the need for POS stations, restaurants may find themselves with additional floor space they can leverage for merchandising or extra seating.

Are you interested in learning more about how foodservice trends and data can improve your sales and marketing programs? If you’d like to speak with one of our representatives, please email [email protected] Or, feel free to give us a call.

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