Our recent era represents a paradigm shift to the way restaurants and food services concepts do business. It has caused industry leaders to consider the fundamentals of their restaurant technology as far as how it serves the transformed landscape. But it’s important to note that many of the trends and movements that we see in the industry today had been emerging for many years before our new decade and this new world of serving guests in a disruptive period began.

As usual, restaurant mobile ordering functionality has played an important role in all of this. But the biggest driver has been the cumulative effect of how technology shapes perceptions, habits, and expectations of today’s consumers. The bottom line to all of that is just this: consumers want and expect a greater sense of independence, control and immediacy when interacting with restaurant and food services offerings.

Food delivery via mobile, and kiosk ordering – the stats

For a long time, and in part thanks to generational shifts that focus on millennials and in anticipation of Gen Z, UI-driven processes as offered by mobile technology and kiosk options enabled by restaurant POS are often the primary means whereby to engage the modern guest. This isn’t really news by now, with the trend lines sloping upward in this direction for some time. But to illustrate the point as to where consumer preferences and habits intersect with technology trends, here are some salient statistics to consider:

  • Today, food ordering and delivery is not just a technology trend – it’s a cultural movement. According to an IBISWorld study Australia’s market size, measured by revenue, of the Online Food Ordering and Delivery Platforms industry is AU$850.5m in 2022.
  • The market size of the Online Food Ordering and Delivery Platforms industry in Australia has grown 20.6% per year on average between 2017 and 2022.
  • The market size of the Online Food Ordering and Delivery Platforms industry is expected to increase 1.7% in 2022.

This trend is not at its end. Recent shifts in demographics and global events that have disrupted the status quo are significant. But it’s clear that preference, habit, and expectations have driven these trends, and have created the kind of momentum to which restaurant and food services organisations must respond.

Ordering options at the guests’ fingertips

There has been an explosion of mobile technology development, and the comfort levels that most consumers feel when it comes to online processes and interfaces like kiosks has spiked. This only stands to reason, given how common these factors are in so many other areas of people’s lives, with visibility and control always available at one’s fingertips. All these factors play into why guest control is such an important concept to grasp and to support. Doing so translates into some important benefits for guests that includes:

  • Easy access to menus – either by kiosk UI, third-party app, or tableside/website QR code
  • Intuitive workflows within these interfaces to customise orders without necessary interaction with staff
  • Confidence in the accuracy of orders, with visibility over wait times, and notices via display or SMS that it’s time for pickup

With these benefits in place, that sense of control becomes second nature. Also, it creates a certain level of consistency and dependability no matter where the guest is – online or dining-in. Either way, they have the control they’re looking for to engage with an offering in a way that is most preferable to them.

How do restaurants and managed food services continue to adapt?

Once again, this is not just a technology shift. It’s a cultural one. The payoffs for consumers around food ordering are the same as in so many other areas of their lives – convenience, immediacy, and control over how they get what they want. Understanding this vital dynamic is the keystone on which technology roadmaps are built to help ensure resilience. The technology is only in place to support all that.

This means that restaurant POS and other technology serves best when it is a part of a holistic ecosystem, rather than just isolated solutions with end-of-life dates that are disconnected from a greater platform. Technology must scale, and it has to do so in an above-store capacity, to continue to serve consumer and guest needs in all locations now, and to serve them later as new integrations become necessary to deliver the best possible experience every time.

The keys to continuing resilience

The restaurants and food services industry has proven itself to be resilient during a period that certainly has tested the limits of a range of organisations. That journey continues as emerging trends of all kinds continue to shape the landscape.

It also requires sturdy and long-term partnerships with the right technology providers and experts who understand the industry.

Jarrod Kinchington is vice president and managing director for Infor Australia and New Zealand.