The Evolution of Technology in Food Service - Part 2 of 3

Posted on: August 17, 2021
By: Dina Townsend


In our first installment of our 3 part series on The Evolution of Technology in Food Service, we looked at the way indoor dining has been impacted by the pandemic. As noted in that same discussion, on average a drive through is responsible for 50-70% of a quick serve restaurant’s revenue. But we also noted that not all Quick Serve, or Fast Casual restaurants in particular, have drive through options.

As a reminder, we were taking a high-level look at 3 areas of purchase in the restaurant space and the technology demands, limitations, and requirements for each:

1. Dine In delivery guys food
2. Carry Out/Take Away
3. Drive Through

So, in the spirit of “here we go again” as the Delta variant gains steam, it is fitting that for part 2 of our series we look at Take Away and Carry Out options.

With Dine In, patrons linger longer and can be more readily enticed by in restaurant marketing. This can contribute to upsell opportunities as patrons add to their order during, or even after the meal. How many times have you gotten a text while dining and a child or roommate asks you to ‘bring them home something’? Or maybe you did not plan to order dessert, but that image on the screen looks delicious and you decide you do have “room” after all. Those opportunities diminish with takeout. The orders are generally placed online, and patrons run in and pick up or the food is brought to the vehicle by servers. Either way, that upsell opportunity and the associated spontaneity is more limited.

As a reminder there is much to cover and because the space is evolving through these times, we will address the subjects with a combination of trends, opinion, and ideation to balance what is working with what is possible.

So why are we talking about Takeout? Hasn’t delivery dominated during COVID? According to a recent article in QSR Magazine, “delivery remained just 8 percent of the industry’s overall transactions” and “92 percent is non-delivery”. They go on to explain that, “Of that total, digital delivery represented 6 percent, whereas digital overall was 17 percent. So where is the other 11 percent flowing from? …Ten percent of that definition, unsurprisingly, comes from takeout”.

While much of the takeout ordering process is handled in an online environment, it is still critical to ensure that communication remains consistent across all customer touchpoints from mobile or online ordering through their arrival at the restaurant to pick up their food. Outward facing digital signage at the destination should match the online environment in branding and messaging. This is an opportunity to grab attention, promote new offerings and limited time offers, provide clear pick up instructions, track order readiness, and communicate safety information. Here is where the client can have a personal experience and one that builds on their online experience.

team joining hands As this aspect of food service grows, internal communication is critical as well. The business model is changing for owner operators and employees as much as it is for customers; and, ensuring accurate and consistent messaging inside the organization is just as important. As the pandemic continues to throw its merciless curve balls, operations may vary from state to state and perhaps even regionally making a single content management platform more important than ever. This technology allows corporate to distribute messaging to the proper endpoints fleetwide and internally including employee breakrooms, corporate campuses, distribution centers, and along relevant supply chain facilities. Signage in food service does not stop at drive through or digital menu boards, and a single backend management console allows messaging to be immediate, accurate, monitored and managed.

In the technology space we talk a lot about Day 2 issues and how to mitigate their impact on digital signage. The pandemic has taught us that every single day in the life of our communication efforts must be one punctuated by agility, flexibility, accuracy, and immediacy. It has been a wild ride, but there are solutions that make it easier. Our team is ready to be that lifeline for you!

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