by: Christopher Kane (4 min)
In short, yes.
According to the National Restaurant Association’s 2015 industry forecast:
"roughly one-quarter of consumers say technology options are important features that factor into their decision to choose a restaurant. This is up from the nearly one-fifth the prior year that said the same, underscoring that technology quickly is becoming an expectation rather than a novelty when dining out."
Mobile technologies are emerging at the forefront of this transformation. A recent report published by Federal Reserve on consumer and mobile financial services, states that in 2015 39 percent of all U.S. mobile users made a mobile payment, which is up from 14 percent in 2014. Furthermore, the report stated:
"In terms of the value proposition to consumers, the significant number of mobile users who reported an interest in using their phones to receive discounts, coupons, and promotions or to track rewards and loyalty points suggests that tying these services to a mobile payment service may increase the attractiveness of mobile phones as a means of payment."
From mobile payments to mobile loyalty programs and beyond, customers are expecting more interaction and accessibility from restaurants then ever before. Portrayed in the graphic below 47% of adults ages 18-34 say “the availability of technology options is an important factor when choosing a restaurant.” In addition, 35% of people are more likely to use restaurant tech compared to 2 years ago. Younger generations tend to lead the pack and become early adopters. Therefore, we will see the largest and quickest adoption of these types of technologies from this digitally native age group.
Since these numbers are steadily climbing, in the near future, technology and what it enables a consumer to do, are going to play a vital role in where people choose to eat.
Why isn’t significant restaurant technology already a part of our lives? The problem lies in interacting with the brick and mortar stores themselves. Primarily, distributing a technology to the numerous mom and pop restaurants is almost un-scalable. This coupled with the fact that overall mom and pop restaurants have a lower risk tolerance because this is their sole livelihood. In addition, they have been late adopters of technology in the past. This is why restaurant tech needs to be approached from the top-down, with larger chain restaurants being the first to adopt and implement new technologies. Larger chains have the capital available, the control, and the sheer number of establishments to sufficiently meet the growing demand for new technology. Furthermore, any new technology needs to keep the physical changes for the brick and mortar restaurants to a minimum, to maintain scalability and increase adoption.
Technology will continue to mold and shape the future of our experiences on earth. If you look at the biggest technology services of our time they typically revolve around basic facets of our lives:
Our need to communicate and interact with each other (Facebook, Snapchat)
Our need to get around and move (Uber, Lyft)
Our need for shelter (Airbnb)
Our need for information and to learn (Google, YouTube)
Our need for food is no different.
Our need for food is obviously vital to our existence. In regards to technology, this need has been slow to reach the level that we have become accustomed to in other areas. However, it is only a matter of time until it will be another part of this trend.