When it rains, it pours. Unfortunately, the food service and hospitality industry has spent the last two years sailing headlong into a storm populated by numerous challenges and operational complexities.
Savvy entrepreneurs, restaurant owners, and corporate executives aren't navigating the turmoil in a rudderless craft, however. Technology, specifically various restaurant marketing software products, is available to help you and your business stay the course.
In this article, we're going to examine the most critical, modern-day challenges currently facing the industry as a whole, as well as the different restaurant marketing software tools and technological advancements that you can use to meet those challenges head-on.
Restaurant marketing software and the role of technology in the food service industry
The food service industry is in a very actionable position when it comes to adopting new and emerging technology. As of this year, the global food tech industry has reached a whopping $220 billion US dollars. Interactive self-service kiosks alone have eclipsed the $26 billion dollar mark, with the majority of business coming from China and other Southeast Asian countries.
With dollar values like that, it's safe to say that technology plays –and will continue to play– a pivotal role in the food service industry. It could even be argued that businesses that fail to maintain adequate technology parity with their competition are at a gross disadvantage in the long term.
The remaining legacy businesses still mired in the old ways are increasingly playing catch up. According to a recent MarketWatch article, 81% of mom-and-pop, independent eateries still use some hybrid of old tech, especially for their point of sale (POS) system. A staggering 75% of those venues, however, expect to implement updated tech within the next calendar year.
What kind of restaurant marketing software are they actually using though? Everything from accounting software, to enterprise resource planning suites, to cloud-based POS. Given the host of challenges that the modern restaurant entrepreneur faces, it's no wonder so many businesses are clamouring to update their tech stack.
In the next section, we'll take a look at the exact challenges food service professionals are currently facing.
Related: Big hospitality insights: How venues can blend tech with world-class hospitality
Current problems facing the restaurant industry
Over the last two years, give or take, the food service industry has faced a cavalcade of hardships and challenges. From the havoc and disruption wrought by COVID-19, to sweeping societal changes, to ever-changing customer demographics, the businesses that survived have emerged as battle-hardened and tech-savvy entities positively positioned for the future. Here are some of the key challenges that entrepreneurs have had to contend with.
Supply chain disruptions
While many of the concepts we'll talk about in this section are connected, we still need an entry point to the conversation. We'll start with the global supply chain.
Two years of global lockdowns and quarantines had a snowball effect on the economy. For starters, the pandemic had a radical effect on the global supply chain, disrupting entire links wholesale. The result? Scarcity of key ingredients as well as other disastrous effects.
Part of the reason the global supply chain imploded during COVID-19 was due to a lack of available labour, from raw materials procurement all the way to transport. Because large cross sections of populations were unable to work during the pandemic, the needs of the many went unmet for months. Even now, the restaurant industry still hasn't fully recovered.
Employee retention issues
Labour shortages aren't the only human resources challenge currently facing the industry; there's also the question of employee retention to deal with.
Over the last two years, worker salaries and benefits have become extremely contentious topics. On the whole, labourers from all walks of life, especially in the food service/ hospitality industry, have come to expect higher wages and more robust benefits. In turn, this puts a strain on restaurant owners to better allocate their resources to maintain a well-qualified workforce.
Inflation and recession
All these factors have combined together to contribute to a near-historic level of global inflation as well as a looming recession, leaving cafes, eateries, and large-scale venue owners wondering how to remain profitable despite the turbulence. Fortunately, emerging tech, like restaurant marketing software, provides a way forward through choppy waters.
Related: Hospitality-specific CRM vs. general: Which is right for you?
How restaurant marketing software and other tech is helping eradicate these problems
The food service industry currently faces a multitude of challenges. Fortunately, a multitude of technological advancements has risen in response. Each of these solutions is designed to address the operational needs of the modern-day eatery. Let's take a look at some of the key pieces of restaurant marketing software helping cafes and restaurants maintain professional parity with their competition.
QR code menus
Today's consumers have far different expectations for their dining experience than customers of yesteryear. Driven partly by health concerns and partly by changing social values, the modern customer favours contactless ordering and a meal with pacing that they can actively control. The QR code menu offers that exact experience.
Customers simply scan the QR code at their table to order drinks, appetisers, or even their meals. They are no longer beholden to waitstaff to pend their order, nor do they have to subject themselves to the same level of interpersonal friction and proximity as customers who used traditional menus.
High-quality digital menus also offer an end-to-end experience, integrating with the POS and order delivery system. Customers have an all-in-one solution that enables them to order delivery from home or in-house and then pay at their own leisure without involvement from the waitstaff.
Accounting, scheduling, and resource planning
As the complexity of the global foodservice industry grows, more and more venues are finding a need to incorporate multifaceted digital solutions designed to address the entirety of their organisation.
Everything from complex accounting procedures to HR functions like hiring, scheduling, and retention have become necessary in order to address this ultra-competitive market. To that end, restaurants, cafes, arenas, and other eateries have begun to employ enterprise resource planning (ERP) tools that give a bird's eye view of their organisation and its challenges.
ERP tools help to align every aspect of your eatery, from the financial and executive functions all the way to the frontline cooks and waitstaff. Powerful backend tools like this help keep your organisation working in harmony toward the shared goal of increased profitability.
CRM and loyalty programs
We've alluded to the fact that the food service industry is ultra-competitive, especially following the pandemic. Eateries that embrace emerging tech are the eateries best positioned for long-term profitability. The question becomes, "How do we use restaurant marketing software to keep customers coming through our doors? By using a customer relationship management (CRM) product.
CRM software helps you cull data from every customer interaction and touchpoint, from spending habits to valuable demographic information. From there, this treasure trove of declared data can be harnessed for special promotions, and loyalty offers designed to keep your best customers coming back for more.
Restaurant marketing software: the panacea to industry hardship
The world is rapidly changing. The food service and hospitality industries are no exception. A virtual litany of challenges has emerged, each threatening to cut into your venue's long-term prosperity. Fortunately, technology has paved the way forward through the turbulence.
Restaurant marketing software like CRMs and QR code menus have proven to be the new face of industry operations. Those who are willing to draft these solutions into their tech stack will find themselves equipped to handle whatever the global market throws at them next. Unsure where to start with your own venue's digital transformation? Mr Yum can help. Contact us today to set up a free demo of our services.