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June 16, 2022

Insights on How Technology is Changing the Face of Foodservice

Tony Treadway

Technology in the restaurant and foodservice industry article.

Driven by lessons learned from the pandemic, venture capital and budding technology, the world of foodservice is changing through technology built for the segment. Can operators keep up with the tech and will it really make a difference as consumers address roaring inflation on everything from gasoline to menu prices? Here are some insights.

It’s Largely Centers Around Mobile Ordering –

Before COVID, food delivery was largely only offered by pizza restaurants. Today, McKinsey estimates the global food delivery market to be worth $150 billion. Technology is the driver, whether the food is delivered, picked up by the customer, or table reservations for a dine-in occasion.

Operator considerations involve their brand’s position as a convenient customer-centric experience. Mobile ordering also involves real estate. Mobile tech ordering that boosts takeout can reduce the necessary size of a restaurant’s bricks and mortar and reduce labor costs for waitstaff.  

Market growth chard for top U.S. food delivery services.

While the industry has experienced explosive growth during the pandemic, delivery platforms, with few exceptions, have remained unprofitable. As DoorDash chief operating officer Christopher Payne told the Wall Street Journal recently, “This is a cost-intensive business that is low-margin and scale driven.” As delivery services, and their resulting technology platforms, have become increasingly competitive, profit-hungry investors continue to pour more dollars into technologies. So, what is ahead?

Plug In’s & Add On’s to Restaurant Tech

Driving the next generation tech movement is the Achilles heel of food delivery platforms… the 25%–35% fee restaurants must pay to have their food delivered. Thus, operators have been scrambling to buy their own universal mobile ordering and management systems within a single package. As operator skills in using the systems and leveraging the valuable analytics from their use, greater efficiencies can be owned by them, not their third-party delivery partner.

In addition to mobile ordering, Toast offers an in-restaurant point of sale (POS) system and plug-ins for staff hiring and management, back-of-house inventory management, and marketing.

Emerging Tech Add-Ons

Creative Energy has held numerous discussions with emerging restaurant tech start-ups offering a unique twist poised to offer operators a competitive advantage. Here’s a quick look at a couple and their offerings:

Devour Leveraging the growth in cryptocurrencies, Devour’s platform promises to be one of the first to market with automated use of crypto payments by guests. The company is likewise a pioneer in the development of non-fungible tokens (NFTs) for restaurant brands. For example, a bitcoin is fungible — trade one for another bitcoin, and you’ll have the same thing. A one-of-a-kind trading card, however, is non-fungible. If you traded it for a different card, you’d have something completely different. Thus, a restaurant could sell their NFTs to offer a members-only dining space, bar space, invitation-only events, or customized gaming experiences for their NFTs customers.

GastonGaston promises to give an operator an edge in marketing to the 32 million people in America who have food allergies (including 5.6 million children). From milk, soy, peanuts, eggs, and shellfish, the Gaston plug-in would review a restaurant’s menu ingredients and automatically market allergen-free menus to share with online or mobile customers. Gaston can likewise alert customers interested in diets for fitness or health, religion, vegans, and flexitarians.

Getting Emerging Restaurant Tech into The Spotlight

Creative Energy is celebrating its 30th year as a leader in brand development and activations within the foodservice channel. That expertise gives our firm extraordinary access to paths for gaining attention for our clients within the channel.

From advertising to e-marketing, social, and PR, our clients enjoy premier access to a suite of solutions for generating actionable leads for their brand. Here’s just one example.

During the recent National Restaurant Show, we offer media tours for some of our clients with editors of top foodservice publications. One exchange was with an editor who mentioned that he was working on a post-show article on top tech finds from the global gathering of 50,000 foodservice operators and suppliers.

Top technologies from the National Restaurant Association Show.

Our client in the conversation was a seafood company. Our intent was to discuss how delicious and sustainably raised our fish can be for a restaurant’s menu. We quickly pivoted to a discussion of the unique technologies employed by the client to raise their fish far from shore in automated enclosures around the globe. The result? Inclusion of the client in the published editorial selecting the seafood clients as one of the top technology finds of the show. Amid an article filled with software, kiosks, and smart beverage dispensers, our client was the only food supplier making the list. Public and media relations are only one of many customized tactics used in developing a strategic approach for our clients. If you are ready to deploy a smart strategy for your brand, we’re happy to start a discussion.