We’re more than halfway through the year and we’re about to enter the 2020s. Decades are usually condensed into a few notable events such as ‘The Roaring Twenties’ of the 1920s or ‘The Disco Era’ of the 1970s. And while the consensus on what the current decade will be known for isn’t out yet, it could very well be ‘The Age of Restaurant Technology’.
While 2010 may not seem like a distant memory, the restaurant and food service industry – and the systems built to facilitate their operations – has greatly evolved since then. Before we look forward to what the new decade will bring us, let’s look back on a few notable developments that redefined the world of restaurant technology.
As one of the biggest investments of any restaurant, the point-of-sale (POS) system has been processing order and sale transactions for decades. In the past, if a restaurant wanted to upgrade from a cash registry to a digital solution, they had to shell out a huge capital for an on-premise model.
The emergence of cloud-based POS systems soon followed and greatly advanced the restaurant sector. While cloud-based POS systems have been around since the 2000s, it has only gained popularity recently, with the majority of the top cloud POS companies today starting out within the past decade. In that short of a timeframe, millions of restaurants worldwide improved their operations by making the shift to cloud technology.
Cloud POS systems, with their affordable subscription-based plans and device-agnostic capabilities, lowered the operational costs for restaurants and made it much more accessible for every outlet to know the profitability of their operations. This not only helped existing restaurants but also gave newcomers a head start in the industry.
Kitchen Display System
Restaurant kitchens have been using kitchen display systems (KDS) for years to improve efficiency and speed of service. The pioneer model consisted of a standard screen displaying digital kitchen order tickets that could be bumped off with a numeric keypad. But in recent years, the KDS evolved from a delightful add-on to an integral part of any modern restaurant.
Modern KDS can now be accessed from a web browser using various devices such as tablets, monitors, and tv screens. Order tickets are split into categories so that each kitchen station only sees the items that it needs to prepare. Additional features, such as themes and adjustable font and ticket sizes, provide users with customizable options that elevate its usability and experience.
A significant inclusion is the introduction of kitchen performance analytics. From a system that streamlined kitchen operations, the KDS transformed into a powerful tool that helps restaurant kitchens identify and address operational bottlenecks by giving them visibility and LIVE insights – including item summary, hourly orders, and station efficiency – on their entire kitchen workflow.
The first online food delivery was fulfilled by a popular pizza chain in the 1990s. But it wasn’t until the 2010s that online ordering exploded in no small part to the arrival of third-party ordering platforms and online ordering channels.
Major key players of the online ordering platforms were founded within the past ten years and have led to a fourfold increase in online searches for ‘online food delivery’ while also resulting in restaurants witnessing a massive increased revenue from online sales since 2010.
Thanks to the numerous food delivery platforms and online revenue channels, a wider range of restaurants are now more accessible to consumers and vice versa. As such, phone orders have taken a backseat to make way for websites and mobile applications.
Throughout the decade, restaurant technology evolved to streamline the different areas of operations. Arguably the greatest feat was finding a way to fully integrate the operation. The modern POS not only offers everything mentioned above but can also integrate with third-party applications offering services outside of its system. One prime example is accounting.
A decade ago, restaurant owners ended the day by manually inputting their daily sales from their POS systems to their accounting software. The vital – yet manual- process was tedious and could easily be ridden with errors.
Thanks to the rise of cloud-based programs, it became easier to integrate and sync data between two applications. By linking their accounting software to their POS system, the restaurant’s daily sales were automatically synced at the end of the business day, removing the need for manual intervention while also ruling out human error.
Presently, Xero cloud accounting software seamlessly integrates with numerous top POS systems, providing restaurant owners with end-to-end solutions that effortlessly keeps up with the needs of their operations. Xero integrations with other cloud-based solutions make restaurant management easier and more accessible to a wider audience.
The restaurant industry has reached an unprecedented growth. People are eating or ordering out more than ever before and in spite of – or, perhaps due to the growth in demand, the evolution of restaurant technology allowed businesses to operate and expand with ease.
The restaurant world is a fast-paced industry but if our look into the past has taught us anything, we can be assured that the technology built to keep up with it will more than do its part.