Article contributed by Michael Schatzberg
The demand for digital automation at restaurants continues to soar as the hospitality industry navigates the return to normalcy with a greater reliance on cost cutting, maximizing employee output, and retaining customers.
More than 80% of business executives are ramping up plans to digitize their work processes by utilizing new technologies, according to data from the World Economic Forum released last fall. What’s more, 50% of employers are expected to actually automate more job roles at companies, particularly restaurants.
Indeed, restaurant automation is happening with point-of-sale integrations, apps that enable remote management and bespoke beverage delivery services, among other innovations in the food-tech space. And savvy startups that cater to these market niches are already ahead of the curve.
FOOD & BEVERAGE AUTOMATION
Food-tech innovations have been fueling restaurants and big tech in recent weeks.Amazon introduced a pay-with-your-palm service at a Seattle Whole Foods. Domino’s announced its driverless pizza deliveries via a partnership with robotics company Nuro. And, on the food and beverage front, New York City-based online beer platform TapRm earlier this year tested an autonomous beer service leveraging robots that could carry up to 36 beers (up to 50 pounds).
TapRm continues to capitalize on its business model by working with brewers to secure some of the most unique brews, ciders and hard seltzers distributing them to supermarkets and restaurants and also making them available direct-to-consumer for delivery. The aim for these automated efforts, is to reduce delivery costs and make consumers feel safe with a focus on contactless interactions.
Restaurant employee management has also become more automated, especially during a time when many owners are having difficulty hiring back employees and need to streamline efficiency. Blanket helps automate everyday operations — from food safety to repairs, maintenance and scheduling allowing managers to manage and seek feedback from employees remotely if needed.
DIGITAL ORDERING DONE IN HOUSE
Even as restaurants open back up for full service and at maximum capacity, many are still operating off-premise dining models. And while third-party delivery services like DoorDash and UberEats saw extreme growth during the pandemic, new tech that allows a restaurant to create its own delivery or food ordering platform while helping it avoid marketing commission fees is getting more traction. Chains like JuicePress have been relying on startups like GoParrot, which builds out digital ordering platforms for restaurants so customers can buy food, customize their orders and get recommendations for dishes based on previous orders all in one place.
GoParrot helped Juice Press and other food clients pivot digital operations during the pandemic to allow online grocery and drink buying through its app.
DIGITAL REWARDS TO INCENTIVIZE ORDERING OUT
After more than a year of restaurants going without seeing many their customers in person, with an uptick in delivery and take out-only options, loyalty programs are a major way operators are winning back guests.
LuckyDiem, a marketplace that offers cash back rewards to more than 200 million users, serves as an advertising platform for businesses that only pay for the service when customers buy a meal at their restaurant, an incentive for the customer and operator. The platform promises to increase new guest visits by more than 50 each month and increase check size by more than 30%.
Other customer-retaining startups like Spendgo create customized loyalty programs that include point systems for rewards, pay-with-points options and other incentives.The startup also integrates with point of sale systems to help optimize customer service through things like table side ordering and contactless payments.
Michael “Schatzy” Schatzberg is the Co-Founder and Managing Partner of Branded Strategic Hospitality and the Managing Director for Branded Restaurants. He has over 35 years of marketing, brand development, management, business development and hospitality experience. Schatzberg started working at Duke’s in 1995. He went on to turn a single concept restaurant into a multi-unit Hospitality Group -opening a second Duke’s location in Manhattan, and re-branding Big Daddy’s from a 1969 soda shop into a twist on the classic American diner. Schatzberg has developed, grown, and managed 6 hospitality concepts and advises over 22 restaurants in NYC. He is a founding member of the NYC Hospitality Alliance and Member of the New York State Restaurant Association.
After being an early adopter to Hospitality Technology within his concepts and serving as an advisor for many start-up HI-Tech companies, Schatzberg founded Branded Strategic Hospitality, an investment & advisory company, that leverages its ecosystem of hospitality venues, expertise, and deep relationships to influence, redefine and evolve hospitality technology (“HI-Tech”) and Food & Beverage innovation. To date, the company has made 21 direct investments.