Restaurant Automation Trends: From AI to Robot Waiters

Nick Mirev
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    With increasing labor costs and labor shortages some companies experience it’s only logical that businesses are striving to automate as many tasks as possible. Companies in the food and beverage industry are no different. The AI hype has made it more attractive for establishments to search for restaurant automation solutions. In this blog post, we’ll dive deeper into the topic of automation in restaurants. We’ll share some of the pros and cons of the process as well as the current trends in the field of automated restaurants.

    What Is Restaurant Automation?

    It is the process of using modern technologies and software in order to automate different tasks and processes of the restaurant business. Restaurants choose to automate different aspects of their business based on their priorities and the current processes. For example, an establishment that handles a lot of deliveries and takeaway orders might choose to rely on an AI ordering system. On the other hand, a fast food place might prefer to introduce self-ordering kiosks and other restaurant automation tools for self-service. 

    The main goal of automation in restaurants is to cut costs, integrate modern technologies, and improve customer service.

    Key takeaway: Restaurant automation helps businesses streamline their processes and improve customer experience. It’s mostly useful for fast food and casual dining venues. The main issue with restaurant automation is that it might lead to a loss of personal touch.
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    Restaurant Automation Trends

    Having a website with a modern design and reliable online ordering software is a must for restaurants. Currently, the trends in restaurant technology and automation are way ahead. Let’s see some of the current ones.

    1. Voice ordering. A large percentage of smartphone users search for things online verbally. That’s why restaurants can benefit from integrating voice recognition technology both on-premise and on their websites.
    2. Automated table reservations. Guests who wish to make a reservation hassle-free should be able to do so. By integrating automated table reservations with your current restaurant technology, you will not only make it easier for your clients, but it is also one less task for your staff.
    3. Food preparation. With the help of robots and AI in restaurants, the process of food preparation can be optimized. Even though robot chefs are not able to perform a large variety of jobs, they are great at repetitive tasks such as frying. This not only enhances and automates some aspects and processes in the kitchen but also ensures consistency.
    4. Restaurant inventory management. Thanks to modern solutions in the field of restaurant inventory, businesses can cut inventory costs by integrating artificial intelligence. Since AI can help with pattern recognition and predictions, it’s easier for restaurant managers to track supply levels and plan orders of ingredients. This also minimizes waste and helps establishments always serve meals made from fresh products.
    5. Self-ordering. Kiosks, mobile apps, and self-service tablets are powerful solutions for restaurants that wish to optimize their ordering process. This also helps improve the overall customer experience as guests don’t feel any pressure to order. Keep in mind that a lot of people wish to customize their meals. This should be taken into consideration when integrating a self-ordering system.
    restaurant online ordering

    Pros of Restaurant Automation

    There are many reasons why businesses in the hospitality industry choose to rely on restaurant automation technologies. Allow us to share the main pros of investing in restaurant automation systems.

    1. Increased efficiency and accuracy. Reducing errors and streamlining processes is a major goal for any business. With modern automation solutions, establishments can speed up payment processing, taking orders, and kitchen operations. Additionally, the quicker service and reduced waiting times lead to a better customer experience.
    2. Cost reductions. Thanks to restaurant automation, businesses have the opportunity to reduce their labor costs. Robots can perform certain repetitive tasks in the kitchen and technology can streamline various parts of the ordering process. 
    3. Scalability. Integrating different restaurant automation solutions is especially useful for restaurant chains and for businesses that plan to grow. It helps with scalability and expanding operations.
    4. Waste reduction. With the help of AI and automation systems, a restaurant can minimize food waste. Additionally, technology can help reduce paper usage. Using an AI delivery route planning software that analyzes real-time data can also help reduce fuel usage.
    5. Better customer service. Whether it’s on-premise or online, guests will be pleased to place their order at their own pace via self-service tablets or a mobile app.
    6. Integration and data analysis. In order to adapt and improve, a business needs to make data-driven decisions. Artificial intelligence algorithms can greatly help in that regard. By collecting and analyzing data from different sources like CRM and POS systems.

    Cons of Restaurant Automation

    Even though automation is something a lot of restaurants are striving for, it has some downsides. Let’s check the main ones.

    1. Loss of human interaction. Some guests might be disappointed that they are served by robots instead of waiters. Overreliance on technology leads to a lack of personal touch.
    2. High initial cost. Investing in restaurant robots or expensive automation software can put some businesses at risk as it requires a lot of capital.
    3. Technical issues. All machines are prone to technical issues. That’s why a restaurant should count on reliable technical support for both the software and hardware at their venue.
    4. Possible customer confusion. A lot of guests might be frustrated when ordering through a self-service kiosk or tablet. Therefore, it’s recommended that restaurants integrate these solutions gradually.
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    Frequently Asked Questions about Restaurant Automation

    Restaurant automation has become a popular trend in the past few years. That’s why it’s no wonder that many restaurant owners are vaguely familiar with the ways to integrate automation into their restaurants. Let’s take a look at some of the frequently asked questions regarding restaurant automation systems.

    What Is an Automated Restaurant Ordering System?

    Automated ordering systems for restaurants help automate various tasks. For example, notifications via email, text messages, or push notifications can be fully handled by the software. Additionally, automated restaurant online ordering systems can help with collecting feedback and building a customer database. These systems are suitable not only for restaurants that offer deliveries and takeout orders but also for catering businesses. As catering is often ordered for special occasions, It’s important for an online ordering system for catering to give customers multiple options for customization.

    What Restaurant Types Can Benefit the Most of Automation?

    Fast food restaurants are most likely to benefit from integrating AI in food service and ordering. The reason behind this is the fact that customers expect quick and accurate service when they order fast food. Self-ordering kiosks and other automation tools can help a fast food restaurant significantly lower the chance of errors and expedite their services.
    Casual dining places can also incorporate robot waiters or self-ordering solutions. Nevertheless, a restaurant manager should weigh the pros and cons of these integrations. In the long run, this depersonalization can lead to a decrease in customer experience and satisfaction.

    Can a Restaurant Be Fully Automated?

    Yes. There are restaurants that run entirely without any human interaction. These venues have a very limited menu as robot chefs can perform a limited number of tasks. Usually, these are fast-food restaurants that offer fried meals or hot dogs. There is a much larger number of establishments that have outsourced some tasks to robots such as waiting tables. This not only has the potential to improve the service but also can be used as part of a restaurant’s marketing to create buzz in social media.

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