AI and Automation for Restaurants: A Comprehensive Guide

March 6, 2024
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As technologies are developing rapidly, businesses need to keep up with the trends. That’s especially true for the hospitality and restaurant industries. Currently, one of the main trends in this field is artificial intelligence. From integrating machine learning with your website to investing in robot waiters, AI in restaurants can be used in various ways. In the following guide, we’ll check the main aspects of automation for hospitality businesses as well as the multiple uses of AI in restaurants.

AI in Food Service and Food Manufacturing Industry

How Is AI Used in the Food Industry

Here are some of the main applications of artificial intelligence for the food manufacturing industry.

  1. Supply chain management. Algorithms can help companies predict demand, calculate inventory levels, and create optimized employee schedules. 
  2. Quality assurance. With the help of enough data, AI can be taught to recognize unsatisfactory quality in products. With the software’s help, a business can more easily recall some products before they go to the retail network.
  3. Business process optimization. AI can be especially useful for analysis. Thus, managers can make data-driven decisions for their business based on the suggestions of artificial intelligence. AI software can be integrated into every business process. It can help with suggestions for optimization of manufacturing, marketing, sales, and many more.
    A hot trend in the AI world is its application to reduce waste and cut costs. Since artificial intelligence can be taught to recognize trends in supply and demand, the software can suggest optimal order amounts for ingredients and a more efficient energy plan.
  4. Personalization. Customer preferences always change and evolve. That’s why AI in restaurants and the food manufacturing industry can collect data based on buying history or user experience online. It can show trends for potential new products. Additionally, thanks to pattern recognition, companies can automate and improve their business’s marketing, packaging, the size of their food products, and t flavors.

AI in Restaurants

Just like with food manufacturing, there are multiple applications for AI in restaurants. In fact, there are even fully automated restaurants that rely fully on robots. Let’s dive a little further into the utilization of AI for restaurants.

  1. Customer interaction. Chatbots and virtual assistants can cut the costs of customer service drastically. With the latest developments in voice recognition technology, this can further ease clients in ordering online or at drive-thrus.
  2. Menu engineering and optimization. Making data-driven predictions is one of the strengths of artificial intelligence. The software can analyze consumer data and suggest menu changes to restaurant managers. Additionally, it can be used to create seasonal menus and upsell additional items to online ordering customers based on their historical data and orders.
  3. Optimize seating arrangements. The sooner you integrate AI into a restaurant, the better it will be. The reason behind this is the fact that these types of software rely on data. As time goes on, the more data there is, the better predictions they can make. Thus, restaurants can analyze reservations and suggest the optimal number of staff for different days of the week.
  4. Delivery optimization. Delivery route planning software uses AI. They calculate the most favorable route taking into account factors such as weather and traffic.
  5. Price strategy. The food and beverage industries often have small profit margins. That’s why calculating prices can be of utmost importance.
  6. Appliances and equipment. Smart appliances are becoming increasingly popular in US households. They are also used by businesses as they allow chefs to automate some of the tasks in the kitchen.
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Smart Automated Restaurant

An automated restaurant is a business that takes orders, prepares food and serves it without any human interaction. These establishments usually have a very limited number of menu items, most commonly fast food. Keep in mind that there are currently only a couple of fully automated restaurants. However, there are many semi-automated ones that still have a small number of staff members.

Automated restaurants successfully combine a number of restaurant technologies to allow a seamless customer experience and fast service. Here are some of them.

  1. Self-ordering. Fast food places can either have self-ordering kiosks or tablets. They show customers the available menu options as well as popular combinations.
  2. Robot chefs and waiters. Even though there has been a large development in robot technology, robot chefs are found mainly in automated fast-food restaurants. They can perform a lot of repetitive tasks with good consistency and speed. However, they are not suitable for fine dining or even casual dining places. Robot waiters, on the other hand, can be seen in some casual dining restaurants.
  3. Cashless payment. Having restaurant payment processing via digital payment is a must nowadays. However, some restaurants are even going 100% digital. That way, they save time and potential for errors.
  4. Customer interaction. An automated restaurant usually relies on AI-powered assistants. 
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AI Food Ordering Systems

During the pandemic, online food ordering skyrocketed. A lot of restaurants started using the services of third-party delivery companies like Grubhub and UberEats. With the latest innovations in the field of AI for restaurants, a lot of businesses are integrating artificial intelligence into their online ordering systems. Let’s see the main features of such software.

  1. Self service. Thanks to virtual assistants and self-ordering hardware, AI food ordering systems can save time for both customers and the staff. 
  2. Integrations. A modern ordering system can be integrated with the current restaurant technology. This means that all the information will be available in the restaurant’s POS as well. This allows businesses to analyze the data with ease and plan special offers for online orders.
  3. Queue management. AI allows for optimal queue management.
  4. Upselling. Artificial intelligence can analyze patterns of people ordering online in order to give them custom suggestions based on their ordering history.

Pros of AI-Based Ordering Systems

There are multiple reasons why companies are benefiting from modern online ordering systems like Revolution Ordering. The main one is that they offer an improved customer experience. This software usually has a modern design and regular updates in order to keep up with the latest trends. Additionally, as artificial intelligence is designed to analyze data, the ordering system can help a business make better decisions based on the patterns found. AI for restaurants can be used not only to improve the menu but also to make changes to the restaurant’s website or mobile app.

Self-ordering kiosks and online ordering systems reduce human error. That’s especially true during peak hours. An automated ordering solution can also cut costs for hiring additional waiting staff. However, a business needs to calculate things properly as the software and the on-premise hardware can be a significant upfront investment.

Restaurants near tourist destinations often need to serve customers from all over the world. That’s why a self-ordering kiosk or tablet can help dramatically. The interface can be easily translated into the most popular languages. Furthermore, this can give businesses a competitive advantage compared to other restaurants that don’t have multilingual support.

Cons of AI-Based Ordering Systems

AI in restaurants is not a universal solution. So let’s dive a little deeper into the disadvantages of AI ordering systems.

  1. Technical issues. Any technology is prone to errors. That’s true for ordering software and hardware too. When investing in an ordering solution, make sure the company has adequate technical support.
  2. Initial cost. Whether a restaurant is investing in waiter robots or self-ordering tables, it can be a financial burden. 
  3. Loss of human touch. There is a reason why these automated solutions are suitable mostly for fast food establishments where the speed of the service is most important. A lot of clients value human interaction and might choose not to order from a self-ordering device. Furthermore, some customers might be less familiar with self-ordering technologies and have difficulties using them. Thus, restaurants should integrate self-ordering solutions gradually.

Restaurant Marketing in 2023

Latest Trends in Restaurant Marketing

The technology, IT, and marketing fields are among the most rapidly changing ones. That’s why the restaurant industry trends follow the ever-changing field of marketing. Allow us to share some of the latest trends in restaurant marketing.

  1. Online restaurant reviews. Nowadays, there are many reputable platforms where customers can share their experiences. Some of the most popular ones are Trustpilot, TripAdvisor, and Google My Business.
    Additionally, social media and review platforms can be considered as customer service channels. It’s important to answer reviews and engage with customers there.
  2. Automation and AI for restaurants. Artificial intelligence has applications in every part of the hospitality business. Restaurateurs need to embrace the AI revolution and integrate it as part of their marketing strategy and business processes.
  3. WiFi marketing. Free wifi can be used as a way to collect customer data and customers’ emails. This marketing channel can also be part of your restaurant’s loyalty program by giving customers access to special offers.
  4. Third-party online orders. In order to maximize revenue, restaurants should invest in a professional and UX-friendly online ordering platform for their websites. Additionally, they need to partner with popular delivery platforms like Uber Eats and Grubhub. After the pandemic hit, these platforms received a huge boost in their brand awareness and recognition. 
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AI in Delivery Route Planning

In the context of restaurants, delivery route planning means calculating the optimal route for food deliveries. The process includes minimizing travel distance, optimizing stops, and improving the overall delivery efficiency in order to keep the dishes in good condition. Manual delivery route planning is not recommended as there are too many factors like traffic, vehicle capacity, and delivery windows to consider.

How AI in Restaurants Is Used for Delivery Route Planning 

  1. Traffic predictions. Modern AI software can access real-time data in order to adjust routes based on predictions and traffic data.
  2. Cost cuts. With the help of sophisticated route planning, companies use labor more efficiently. Additionally, they save money on fuel and vehicle maintenance. 
  3. Better analysis. AI for restaurants can greatly improve the decision-making process by recognizing patterns and trends. Data analysis can be done on drivers’ performance, most profitable locations, and many more.
  4. Improved customer experience. Thanks to efficient route planning, the average delivery waiting time can be reduced. Furthermore, clients want to know exactly when their food will be delivered. That’s why tracking systems can enhance customer service and experience.
  5. Driver behavior and feedback. Equipping vehicles with GPS and analyzing the gathered data with AI has the potential to show you patterns in rest breaks or whether drivers obey traffic laws.
eBook on automation and AI for restaurants

Restaurant Automation Trends

Restaurant automation is the process of integrating technologies, hardware, and software into a restaurant’s business processes in order to automate certain manual tasks. Different types of restaurants might choose to automate different tasks and aspects. For example, a fast food place might need to automate customer service in order to be able to serve their clients even faster. On the other hand, a fine-dining restaurant would probably benefit from integrating automation related to quality assurance. Restaurant automation is done in order to cut costs and improve customer satisfaction.

Current Trends in Restaurant Automation

  1. Self-ordering. Modern voice recognition technology allows restaurants to automate the ordering process of drive-thrus. In addition, self-service tablets and kiosks help customers choose their preferred meal and take as much time as they need. Nevertheless, there could be drawbacks to integrating self-service options as some customers might be less keen to use technology and prefer the personal touch.
  2. Food preparation. With the help of robot chefs and smart appliances, restaurants can automate some repetitive tasks in the kitchen. This increases efficiency and improves customer service as guests get their meals faster.
  3. Inventory management. With the help of artificial intelligence, a restaurant’s inventory can be managed more efficiently. AI can track supply levels and suggest orders of different ingredients. Additionally, if combined with inventory software, AI can suggest ways to minimize food waste due to spoilage.

Disadvantages of Restaurant Automation

Even though many businesses strive to cut costs by automating as many tasks as possible, there are some cons of automation. Probably the biggest one is the fact that modern hardware and software solutions have a high initial cost. Investing in robots or state-of-the-art restaurant software that uses the power of AI can be expensive.

The loss of personal touch and the potential for customer confusion should not be underestimated as well. Self-ordering solutions should be integrated gradually so that guests can still get assistance from a waiter or other staff member if they need help. Additionally, relying on technology can be troublesome in cases of technical problems. 

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