There has been a fundamental shift in the way consumers interact with foodservice brands. The idea of going out to a restaurant as the only option for dinner has become a thing of the past.
Think: Are you on-the-go and ready to pick something up? There’s an app for that.
Do you feel like having dinner from your favorite place on the corner, but don’t want to get out of your PJ’s? There’s an app for that too.
Want to get your custom order on the way to work without even leaving your car? Yes, you guessed it, there’s an app (along with a drive-thru) for that too.
Tech is influencing every aspect of ordering food. iPads are replacing pens and paper for in-restaurant ordering; mobile delivery is booming for companies like McDonald’s who have started expanding mobile ordering to Canada; and mobile pre-ordering is sweeping the nation as Starbucks recently rolled out their mobile app to all customers.
Consumers want everything they’ve already had, but faster and more conveniently. This is proving to be a challenge for many foodservice brands as they struggle to match the pace of consumer demand, while providing high quality customer service.
To keep up with changing consumer expectations, foodservice and QSR brands are investing heavily in tech to enhance their in-store experience. In fact, T.G.I.Friday’s recently called themselves “a tech company that happens to sell beer and ribs.”
As consumers’ options continues to grow, it means fiercer competition and a race for restaurants to provide the best value. How can you win? Investing in technology alone isn’t enough. You need to have the best people using the best technology.
Starbucks is a great example of a company leveraging technology to provide new and unique experiences for their customers. Kevin Johnson, who succeeded Starbucks’ co-founder Howard Schultz as Chief Executive Officer in April last year stated, “Some in the industry believe that you must either focus on a retail experience that is about community or a retail experience that is about convenience, you cannot do both,” he said at the company’s annual meeting in Seattle. “We do not buy into the false trade off.” Starbucks’ mobile ordering is a great example of this – pairing quick service and a friendly interaction with an associate.
When considering the in-store experience for any foodservice brand, the question you need to be asking is no longer, “What products does the customer want?”, it’s “How do we give the customer the products they want?”.
The answer lies in investing in technology and forward thinking strategies that support (not replace) your people, because, at the end of the day, food is a human experience.
Next time you sit down at a restaurant, or order a pizza for delivery, think about the role that both technology and people play in your experience. Are you ordering from a foodservice company that uses tech? Or a tech company that sells food?