Technology powers the future of foodservice

Photograph: Shutterstock

Technology will play an increasingly important role in the future of restaurant operations, from the automation of labor-intensive functions to the optimization of marketing and the facilitation of off-premise consumption.

Inventory tracking, promotional planning, labor scheduling and other functions have already migrated toward paperless, technology-driven systems. Next-generation technologies take that a step further by minimizing manual data entry using various scanning mechanisms, or by connecting directly to an operator’s POS.

In fact, the POS system has become the “brains” of many restaurant operations, functioning as a data hub that receives inputs from throughout the enterprise and allows managers to track critical metrics such as sales, cash flow, inventory and various labor measurements. This data analysis is critical to operating efficiently, particularly in the current environment where sales and profitability are under intense pressure.

As operators expand their use of technology, it is important that they maintain a focus on providing a strong customer experience. Technomic’s 2020 Foodservice Technology Consumer Trend Report outlined several key ways that foodservice technology will grow and evolve in terms of its relationship with consumers, including:

• Brands will put consumers in greater control over their data;

• New technology (such as app-based ordering and payment) will be integrated alongside traditional methods;

• Websites will shift toward mobile-optimized versions;

• Mobile apps will feature more cutting-edge amenities and designs; 

• In-store ordering kiosks will expand and modernize;

• AI will grow and gain a niche following; and

• Restaurant robotics will focus on delivery.

“Technology is becoming more ingrained in the foodservice industry, transforming concepts, operations and the customer dining experience for on- and off-premise occasions,” the report concludes. “Technology is also rapidly evolving, forcing brands to constantly innovate existing technologies and/or implement new technology.”

Clearly leveraging technology to facilitate off-premise consumption is going to be a key element of future success in foodservice. Operators will need to remain flexible in terms of managing their delivery and takeout operations as conditions change market by market during the pandemic, according to Technomic’s 2020 Delivery & Takeout Consumer Trend Report

“New technologies that enable seamless takeout and delivery experiences are well-positioned to advance,” the report concluded. “This includes tech and delivery management systems that integrate into existing POS systems and other platforms, pickup cubby locations designed for contactless transactions, geofencing and packaging with newly redesigned linings to maintain temperature.”

Technology that facilitates third-party delivery and contactless experiences has already proved to be successful for operators such as Urban Wok, a single-unit restaurant in St. Paul, Minn. The restaurant, which attributes its success to its embrace of digital technologies, is planning two additional locations, according to a recent article in Restaurant Business.

“We opened our first unit based on technology and operational efficiency,” said Mark Toth, owner of Urban Wok. “There was no cash from day one, just mobile orders and credit cards at the kiosk.”

Urban Wok uses Toast as its POS and overall management system and uses Chowly to integrate POS with third-party delivery systems such as DoorDash. 

For more information about the role Chowly can play in ensuring restaurant operations are ready for the future of technology, visit

This post is sponsored by Chowly


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