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State of the Industry: The Future of In-Restaurant Dining

Combining Physical and Digital Interactions
Like the other industries we’ve conducted a State of the Industry study on, restaurants are heavily focused on building a connection between physical and digital customer experiences. For most industries, this connection is in the form of self-checkout and Grab-n-Go stations, but restaurants must take a slightly different approach. Instead of self-checkout lines, they have tabletop self-checkout kiosks. And, instead of Grab-n-Go stations, they have mobile ordering and pick-up. But it can’t stop there.

As more and more consumers seek out frictionless experiences, restaurants will need to start adding services such as pre-ordering meals, in-store digital menus, and for some, augmented reality. 20% of restaurants* are already testing or exploring multi-sensory experiences like augmented reality.

Now, we get it. Offering something like an AR experience can come with a hefty price tag, something that many restaurants can’t justify. So here are a few more realistic (but equally effective) options:

     •   Rethink restaurant design for a digital experience: 37% of restaurants* anticipate
        dedicating a separate area within the restaurant for online order pick-up

     •   Offer a complete flywheel of ordering and payment options: 66% of restaurants*
        believe that the adoption of new technologies for ordering and payment will have a
        medium to high impact on the in-restaurant experience over the next two years.
     •   Streamline experiences with contactless ordering and service: 37% of restaurants* are
        either testing or scaling mobile ordering and payment options.

Improve Online Order Profitability
The acceleration of online ordering has many perks, but it can also lead to profitability and customer experience issues if not appropriately managed. Approximately 1 in 5 restaurants* struggle to balance online ordering with maintaining profit margins, making it challenging to stay competitive. In order to improve online order profitability, restaurants need to increase revenue and reduce costs, but what are the tangible most strategic ways to do this?

     •   Keep it simple: Offer a smaller selection of items that are easy to prepare and can be
        executed consistently. This can help reduce kitchen complexity and speed up service times
     •   Offer seasonal and limited-time items: Offering seasonal and limited-time items can
        create a sense of urgency and encourage customers to try new items
     •   Cater to the to-go diner: Optimize menu items for diners who prefer takeout and delivery.
        This can help reach a broader consumer base and bring your restaurant into the home
     •   Rethink the design: Revamp the layout of your restaurant to prioritize digital experiences
        (i.e., large online order prep stations) and enhance the in-restaurant experience.

Overall, restaurants actively building strategies to bridge the gap between their diners’ online and in-restaurant experiences will be the most adaptable and competitive. The food service industry is constantly evolving and facing new challenges and opportunities.

Read the Report

* Incisiv, & Toshiba. (2023). State of the Industry: The Future of In-Restaurant Dining.

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