SFIO CRACHO | Shutterstock

SFIO CRACHO | Shutterstock

By Mandy Wolf Detwiler | This is part two of a two-part series looking at trends in the restaurant industry in 2022. The first part can be read here. The restaurant industry is being challenged like never before but technology is paving the way for success in 2022.

QSRweb and PizzaMarketplace reached out to industry experts via email interviews to get insight on what they expect in 2022 and how technology is playing a role.

POS systems becoming more intuitive
Restaurants are quickly learning that POS systems can do much more than simply add an order to the kitchen and provide the guest their check.

“In 2022, one key factor to meeting and exceeding digital consumer expectations is data, but not just the raw figures,” said Chris Lybeer, chief strategy officer at Revel Systems.

“Merchants need data insights; numbers that tell a story that’s easy to read. For example, a restaurant operator will want their POS platform to offer them insights into their strongest revenue streams, whether off premises or on site, and depending on that answer, where there could be improvements to the digital consumer experience. The savvy POS providers will focus on visual and actionable analytics solutions that make it easy to be a data-driven restaurant. This will certainly be a huge focus for our team at Revel Systems in the coming year.”

Touchless remains at the forefront of technology
Touchless ordering and food delivery are now critical components thanks to the years of COVID-19 and were at the forefront of technological advances in 2021, and likely to expand in 2022.

“Restaurants have reshaped the guest experience to offer both contactless curbside pickup and contactless dine-in to meet customer expectations,” said Dirk Izzo, president and general manager of NCR Hospitality. “Looking ahead, research shows 38% of consumers will continue ordering takeout instead of dining in, and 28% will stick with delivery options. Restaurants will need trusted partners that can enable and accelerate digital transformation and constantly adapt to changes in the market so they can focus on what they do best, great food and customer experiences.”

Andy Orrock, COO of OLS Payments, said since the onset of the pandemic, there has been a growing demand for contactless transactions.

“Within the restaurant industry, we also saw a significant decrease in cash payments, and an increase in digital payments, namely QR codes,” Orrock said. “And both consumers and restaurants are signing on to this trend for the long haul. QR codes as a payment mechanism will continue to gain traction in 2022, especially as they enable restaurants to accept payments quickly without direct POS engagement, as well as engage and drive loyalty with patrons. Furthermore, contactless pay-at-table technology will continue to be adopted as it allows for direct engagement with loyalty programs, increased payment security and faster processing — freeing up staff to focus on customer service.”

Waste reduction
Restaurant consultant Mark Moeller said waste reduction will gain traction in 2022.

“With a strong focus worldwide on climate change, carbon footprint and zero waste goals, operators in larger cities will look to do more of this,” he said. “Cross utilization of ingredients, composting, organic based paper products are the obvious choices. Looking at food digesters that turn food scraps into fertilizer and wastewater. Food digestors can reduce waste by up to 90%.”

Beginning in November 2021, diners in Los Angeles have to ask for plastic utensils and napkins under a new ordinance designed to reduce waste. The ordinance first took effect for restaurants with more than 26 employees but will be applicable to all restaurants in April 2022. That includes takeout and delivery orders, according to a report in The Los Angeles Times.

Automation is just one way to reduce waste, said Clayton Wood, CEO of Picnic Works, a restaurant robotics company.

“Heading into 2022 we know that food costs are at all-time highs, which means that waste is even more expensive and impactful on a food service operation’s profitability than ever before,” Wood said. “Reducing food waste is a primary benefit of automation solutions, which can eliminate errors in consistency, communication and the wasteful process shortcuts that occur during rush times with human workers. Given the challenges of the past year, we most certainly predict that in 2022 food service operators will be even more focused on finding new tech solutions for their restaurants.”

Loyalty programs
Loyalty programs will continue to grow as tech-savvy, rich minefields of data that can be used to tailor a customer’s experience to a restaurant.

“Loyalty programs will continue to be a critical component of the success of any restaurant concept, moving forward, but even more so for the QSR space,” said Shyam Rao, co-founder and CEO of Punchh. “As brands continue to evolve their loyalty, they will be looking to close the gap on knowing their customer and providing them an engaging and relevant customer journey. This will include diversifying current programs to include more personalization, gamification, and experiential rewards that allow guests to choose the way they engage with their favorite brands. AI will further be utilized to enable growth and innovation, and create scalable, resilient loyalty foundations that will scale to provide greater personalization to each and every guest.”