Restaurant Technology Decisions in the Time of Coronavirus

Since the coronavirus pandemic began sweeping the world, restaurants have lost more revenue and jobs than any other industry. Abrupt closures, limited reopenings and waves of rollbacks along with inconsistent public health guidance and changes in government-mandated orders have been the hallmarks of the industry in the time of Covid-19. Add to this seismic shift from business-as-usual to the “new normal” a deep concern amongst many consumers about dining out at all, even with strict regulations in place requiring disinfectants, social distancing and a host of other safety precautions.

Pushed to the brink of financial ruin and struggling to remain afloat, restaurant owners and operators have improvised and innovated unlike ever before. They have devised creative adaptations on menus, business hours, points of service, delivery options and takeout models. They have also upgraded their technology capabilities, implementing guest-facing mobile apps and other advanced solutions, including next-generation restaurant management and POS systems.

These advanced solutions have become increasingly sophisticated in recent years, with an ever-expanding array of integrated features and functionality. Importantly, the benefits of the various enhanced platform capabilities have been shown to translate into positive financial outcomes for restaurant owners and operators in terms of both cost reduction and revenue growth. In fact, according to market research conducted by Starfleet Research just prior to the onset of the pandemic, in Q1 2020, 86 percent of full-service restaurants, and 73 percent of quick service and fast casual restaurants, reported that they had achieved “significant” or “dramatic” improvement in revenue performance after deploying a next-generation restaurant management and POS system.

If there is a silver lining to be found in recent events, it is that the pandemic has accelerated digital transformation in the restaurant industry. While many restaurant owners and operators were already becoming increasingly focused on technology-enabled business initiatives — implementing solutions to, for example, streamline operations, control food costs, optimize staffing, automate inventory management, speed table turns and improve data-driven forecasting and analysis — the immediate aftermath of the crisis kicked technology innovation and adoption into high gear. As a result, many restaurants have been able to weather the storm better than they might have been able to do otherwise. Moreover, they are now positioned to achieve greater success in a post-pandemic future.

This Smart Decision Guide offers a roadmap for utilizing next-generation restaurant management and POS systems to adapt to the new normal — and prepare for a brighter future. Rather than attempt to navigate the continued uncertainties of the current environment, it takes a long view of the emerging trends and technology advances shaping the evolution of restaurant operations. It includes insights for evaluating solutions, practical guidance for making the right selection and pointers for maximizing the value of investments over time.

Excerpted from The 2021 Smart Decision Guide to Restaurant Management and POS Systems, which publishes this month, with underwriting support from the following industry leaders: Agilysys, Infor, Oracle Hospitality, Toast and Upserve.