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Self-service in the food service and restaurant sectors

While the farming industry and many other sectors acquire innovations from year to year, it is still not difficult to find restaurants today that operate exactly as they did 20 years ago.

The client puts in an order to the waiter, the waiter writes down the order on paper, takes it to the kitchen, the cook prepares the plate, the order is delivered by the waiter, the plate is consumed by the client, the client asks for the check, pays and leaves. End of story.

But this story has been changing (a lot!) in the past few years... The food sector, as well as all the others, have been increasingly observing the value of using technology to improve efficiency and profitability in their businesses.

Client experience

Today, we see numerous solutions focused on this sector: financial, inventory and sales management, online orders, loyalty apps, wi-fi for clients, self-service with digital menus or totems. All with the objective of optimizing resources and facilitating the routine of the restaurant operator so that he can concentrate on the focus of his business, which is the client’s experience! That’s right, the focus of the restaurant is no longer on the food itself, but on the client.

This is a change that has occurred throughout retail, and especially in restaurants. The word “restaurant” originates from the Latin “restaurare”, which means “to restore”. And more than ever, in the rushed lives that most people have, this is exactly what the client is looking for when they choose a restaurant: a restorative experience! This is the moment in which they will take a break from their day to eat, replenish their energy and mainly share good times with family and friends.

Trends for restaurants

So, when we talk about the major trends for 2018 for this sector, the answer is: focus on charming the client! This is why it is not enough to just serve good food. Mainly in such a competitive sector, clients are increasingly demanding and searching for experiences with impeccable details.

And this is where technology can come in to help. According to data from the NRA (National Restaurants Association), among the technology considered most important to acquire in the next few years, 37% is related to orders via clients, 25% is related to loyalty programs and another 25% is related to payment methods.

In fact, this movement has become increasingly established in the international market. In the USA, for example, practically all major networks already use self-service terminals, with digital menus or apps for ordering. The same is true with loyalty and reward programs through apps. And virtual wallets for payment have also been increasingly common, mainly in markets like China and Japan.

Here in Brazil, payment and loyalty apps have still been gaining space modestly, particularly due to a limited use of smartphones by the population (here in Brazil, around 60% of the population has a smartphone, while in the USA and Europe, this number is the range of 80%), but in the aspect of orders via clients, we have seen considerable growth in the last year, mainly with the use of self-service terminals in major networks such as McDonald’s, Madero, Bob’s, among others.

For the restaurants that do not follow the fast food or fast casual line, the option that has been gaining space and acceptance from clients are digital menus on tablets, which enable faster service without mistakes, with customization and enabling the waiter to become a house consultant, charming the client with good service.

The fact is that this is only the tip of the iceberg and there are still many good things to come to improve the client’s consumer experience. And the question that remains is: how are you planning to use technology to improve your business?