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“The COVID-19 pandemic has created a major void in the quick-service restaurant industry. But with digital kiosks, dark kitchens, super-apps, kitchen display system (KDS), integrated payment gateways, and more, quick-service restaurants (QSR) fill the void and deliver superior guest experiences.”
Speed and efficiency are the two essential success pillars for businesses in the digital age. And the quick-service restaurant industry is no exception. Many quick-service restaurants (QSRs) resorted to technology solutions when the coronavirus outbreak disrupted the normal functioning of restaurants.
- To attain speed and efficiency
- To ensure business continuity
- To reinvent revenue models
- To deliver impeccable customer experiences
- To unlock opportunities amidst the new normal
The transformation trend attracted QSRs even in the pre-COVID-19 days, but restaurants' demand for digital-first solutions certainly accelerated in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In between lockdowns and social distancing, reaching out to customers and engaging with them is challenging for quick-service restaurants. But thankfully, we are in the digital age, which has the right technology, a web of intelligent devices, and other efficient tools that can help QSRs build a connected ecosystem. They just need the right digital transformation partner to build robust technology solutions that can help them align disparate digital-age capabilities, enabling interaction, engagement, and transaction with customers in a virtual environment.
Why should quick-service restaurants consider creating a technology roadmap?
Garnished with a dollop of technologies, QSR brands are forecasted to grow enormously in the takeaway, home delivery, or fast-casual segment. According to Statista, the market size for the quick-service restaurant industry worldwide declined in 2020 (i.e., $875.26 Billion in 2019 to 859.89 Billion in 2020) due to stay-at-home restrictions imposed all over. But soon after QSRs gained momentum, Statista predicts that the market size would reach $885.07 Billion by 2021. The pandemic came as a blessing in disguise for the QSR market, though only for the quick-service restaurants, which undertook the technology roadmap and forged digital solutions, including:
- Digital kiosks
- Digital signage
- PoS (Point of Sales) terminals
- Virtual kitchens
- Kitchen Display Systems (KDS)
- Digital menu cards
- Smart devices
- Integrated payment gateways
- Super apps
Quick-service restaurants are precisely as the name suggests, i.e., quick to serve customers. Foods in such food retailing houses are prepared and delivered to customers comparatively faster and with minimum variation. And technologies can help them augment performances in whatever they do.
Tech seasonings play a critical role in enabling the QSR brands to achieve performance excellence and deliver superior customer experiences across their food chains and restaurant franchises. The following are some ways in which digital transformation partners help quick-service restaurants use high-quality digital ingredients to prepare a condiment of tech innovations.
Creating high-performance QSRs with a robust backend
- End-to-end Workflow Automation
Modern automation is about redefining processes, tasks, and functions with these metrics: speed, efficiency, and accuracy. It incorporates intelligence and helps fast-casual or drive-through restaurants beyond traditional RPA (Robotic Process Automation) capabilities. Intelligent automation deploys technologies such as the cloud, AI (Artificial Intelligence) and ML (Machine Learning), and more. Such disruptive technology forces enable these lite restaurants to build automated systems that help automate rule-based tasks and encourage continuous learning and evolution triggered by cognitive abilities. The result is speed, efficiency, consistency, and accuracy, improving turnaround times and increasing customer satisfaction.
Data is the key to innovation in modern times, and APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) sits at the core of innovation driven by the data. APIs enable seamless communication between the operating systems in quick-service restaurants and even helps integrate with third-party systems. Besides, digital transformation enablers leverage APIs to help QSRs function in a connected ecosystem and reap the benefits of digital integration. It means better cross-departmental collaboration and continuous innovation, which can help QSRs increase throughput and reinvent revenue models.
- Data enablement
Technologies such as big data and analytics help turn data into the most valuable asset for quick-services restaurants. They can harness such technologies to know their customers, anticipate their choice and demand, analyze the food ordering trend during festive seasons, track the continuously changing customer behavior, and more. The technologies help collaborate data generated across chains and franchisees spread across regions or geographies. Thus, data enablement allows quick-service restaurant businesses to build reflective and progressive strategies to identify friction points and eliminate them.
- Product bundling strategy
Product bundling strategy is an efficient and proven approach that enables quick-service restaurants to encourage customers to buy more. They can build a dedicated app to create customized bundles of various products — for instance, a burger can be bundled with a bottle of cold drink and French fries and offer the same, be it delivery, dine-in, or drive-thru. A robust approach to optimize stocks, product bundling strategy significantly helps QSRs reap the benefits of cross-selling. Moreover, it helps increase sales, total order value, and revenue.
Building responsive QSRs starts with an intuitive frontend
- Digital kiosks and digital signage
Digital platforms, including self-service kiosks and digital menu cards, replace long queues outside the QSR brands and pick-up windows and enable fast servicing to meet customers' satisfaction. According to a recent report, the self-service kiosks market will grow at a CAGR of 8.6% between 2020 and 2027. Another report validates that self-service kiosks provide comfort to 85% of customers while ordering food. The same report informs that digital signage can trigger a 28% increase in sales and 20-30% 9n order values.
Technology solutions providers help QSRs build SuperApps, a collective, holistic, and collaborative approach to achieving excellence and pursuing development. An ecosystem of business apps or a multipurpose app, SuperApps lists products and services offered by a QSR brand or third-party providers. It works as an integrated platform that supports sales and marketing strategies, reduces business costs significantly, and works as a data hub, enabling quick access to actionable insights. In short, SuperApps is all about delivering end-to-end experience right through a single platform.
- Self-service food ordering platforms
Tech-savvy, digital-age customers, love personalized food ordering experiences. Be it navigating digital menu cards, building the foods they want to order, incorporating discount coupons, using reward points, or making the payment through the integrated payment gateways or online wallets using their smart devices. The demand for web- and app-based online food ordering platforms surged dramatically, especially when COVID-19 forced people to live in isolation and with social distancing measures to stop the noble coronavirus from spreading.
- Rewards and loyalty programs
QSR brands are continuously hunting for new ways to engage with customers, especially in the wake of the COVID-19-led pandemic. The brands can build technology solutions to offer rewards and loyalty programs to customers, encouraging them to engage more. For instance, a solution powered by AI (Artificial Intelligence), data science, and analytics can help the QSR brand monitor data and track customers’ behavior and their food ordering habits to offer them customized discounts and other incentives. Such programs are critical to attracting new customers and retaining the existing ones.
The growth imperative: QSRs must continually adopt new-age technologies to lead in the next
A responsive restaurant runs on an intuitive frontend, which consists of a robust digital ecosystem. It is the face of QSR brands. The digital ecosystem fills the gap that the COVID-19 pandemic has created or forges vital channels that help the QSR industry function amid the new normal.
Besides, there is no denying that technologies add a new layer of convenience to QSR businesses and help prepare delectable, mouth-watering solutions that suit the customers’ palate. From managing the in-house operations efficiently to understanding the continuously changing market dynamics outside, tech seasonings enable quick-service restaurants to set the growth parameters right. Incredibly when crises such as COVID-19 hit hard, challenges mounts, and reaching out to the right customers at the right time becomes difficult. Technology-backed QSR brands drive innovation at speed to attract and serve new customers at a breakneck speed and encourage them to a continued, long-term relationships.