2020 is just around the corner and it’s an exciting time to be in the business! Every year brings changes to how customers interact with restaurants, and every year new technologies pop up to help restaurants keep up. 

Let’s review some of the most likely trends we will see in the restaurant industry for 2020. 

Mobile Technology

There’s an app for everything these days. And we’re not just talking customer-facing apps like Yelp or GrubHub. Restaurant operators can now benefit from apps that manage employee shift schedules, track food recall alerts, count inventory, and even monitor freezer temperatures

In 2020, expect more restaurant owners and managers to start leveraging mobile devices more often as a means of managing operations. 

Self-Serve Kiosks

Fast-food restaurants like McDonald’s are using self-serve kiosks as a way to improve the ordering experience for their customers. It seems to be working out for the business too. According to the company, they have seen an increase in average order size in stores that have self-service kiosks installed and plan to roll them out to more stores nationwide.

Other fast-food chains have already followed suit, like Taco Bell, Wendy’s and Panera. But we can also expect fine-dining restaurants to explore this option as well, such as all-you-can-eat restaurants that allow diners to self-order via tablets. 

Digitized Back-of-House Operations

This technology might be invisible to the average diner, but kitchen technology will have the most impact on their experience, especially in the areas of quality and safety. 

Digital applications and equipment help restaurants streamline inventory tracking, order processing, food prep and more. Analog back-of-house practices are quickly becoming obsolete in favor of these more convenient and reliable digital solutions. And that’s before taking data into consideration.

Data Management and Integration

Data is the key to sustained improvement, whether that’s in operating efficiency, customer service or finance tracking. Every digital solution implemented in a restaurant offers a wealth of data that, if tracked and analyzed properly, will tell owners just what they need to do to improve that part of the business. 

Integrating this data, or cross-referencing it with other data, will help restaurant operators paint a more holistic view of their business and expose areas of growth that they’d never even considered before. 

Consolidated Online Ordering and Delivery

Online ordering has taken the restaurant industry by storm, for better or worse. It’s common to see cashiers surrounded by two or three tablets, one for each online ordering service. This is stressful for employees to manage and unsustainable in the long term.

In 2020, expect to see restaurants or startups centralize online ordering into one application, whether as a central online ordering service online, or an on-site restaurant order management software that will consolidate all online (and maybe even offline) orders in a more manageable fashion.