Restaurant Tech Revolution: Kiosks, Mobile Apps, and AI Take Center Stage
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Restaurant Tech Revolution: Kiosks, Mobile Apps, and AI Take Center Stage

Restaurant Tech Revolution: Kiosks, Mobile Apps, and AI Take Center Stage

Diners should get ready for a high-tech upgrade at their favorite restaurants, according to a new report from restaurant technology company Qu. Customers can expect to see more kiosks in stores, new mobile apps, and voice AI on the phone and in the drive-thru.

The Qu 2024 State of Digital Report, based on a survey of over 179 QSR and fast-casual restaurant brands and 62,000 locations, highlights the rise of self-service options as a key solution to manage labor challenges and boost sales. Kiosks are making a significant comeback, with 44% of brands planning to introduce them in 2024. Mobile apps and voice-activated ordering (both phone and drive-thru) are also high on the list of planned additions.

“Guests are more comfortable ordering on screens and from their mobile devices,” said Qu CEO Amir Hudda. “Combine that with a tight labor market and we’re seeing a shift to self-serve ordering even in the store." These self-service options offer guests more control and convenience, while helping restaurants streamline operations and potentially increase revenue.

The pandemic surge in digital ordering isn't a passing fad. The report confirms that digital sales now account for a significant portion of overall revenue, with 26-50% reported by many restaurants. This trend is expected to continue for the foreseeable future.

While digital ordering is flourishing, traditional loyalty programs are falling short. A staggering 80% of respondents say their current program isn't effective. The report predicts a new era of "Loyalty 3.0," centered on a data-driven framework that prioritizes guest experience.

Looking ahead, restaurants are prioritizing flexible, data-driven platforms. A whopping 65% of respondents plan to (or already have) transitioned to cloud-based, API-forward systems. These platforms unlock valuable insights through data normalization, allowing for guest personalization and a "single source of truth" for restaurants.

"Brands have learned what is working for guests and are investing in modernizing and elevating the guest experience,” said Hudda. “As the economy and market settle into predictability we’ll start to see more innovation and a focus on technology for guest acquisition, loyalty, and ordering advancements.”

The Qu 2024 State of Digital Report paints a picture of a rapidly evolving restaurant landscape. With a focus on self-service, data-driven strategies, and AI integration, the future of dining promises to be a convenient and personalized experience for all.

Published: April 10th, 2024

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