The restaurant industry in India seems to be in a flurry of change as customers’ tastes, dietary needs, lifestyle and preferences are rapidly evolving, not to mention the shift to digital media. Technology is rapidly changing every aspect of our lives - and the restaurant industry is no exception. Due to globalization and availability of 4G, the restaurant sector is undergoing a big change in India. From partnerships, bringing reservations and search and discovery platforms to the increased utilization of guest data and data security, the past few years brought several opportunities for technological integrations in the restaurant industry.
Below are some thoughts on what this year has in store for restaurant operators in India:
With the arrival of Alexa, people are using voice technology to do everything - from turning on the lights to finding dinner recipes. This year voice technology will be integrated into the restaurant industry, too. The application of voice technology will make it easier to communicate for the restaurant staff and keep track of guests more smoothly. This will provide a better experience to all the diners as well. Customers who use Grub Hub can ask Alexa to use one of their last three orders again. With the prevalence of Alexa and Siri and others voice command tools, the ability to order items via voice command will likely trend in 2019.
Consumers are opting for cashless transactions which provide convenient ways to transfer money across bank accounts. We all have used mobile payments while ordering food online but now customers in many restaurants in India can use the United Payments Interface (UPI) app on their smartphones. This app uses Quick Response Code (QR)-code enabled to pay the bill which makes the payments stress-free. Now, instead of waiting for your waiter to get the bill and EDC you can just pay the bill with one touch on your smartphone. This way the payments can be done without any cash involved at restaurants. This mode of payment in restaurants is quite popular across the globe and the trend is catching up fast in India.
People have become more and more comfortable with technology in India and the restaurant and food industry are making the most of this digital connection to improve the overall consumer experience. The company that operates McDonald’s in West and South India, Westlife Development Ltd has plans to convert at least a third of its 281 restaurants to be digitally-enabled with self-ordering kiosks, free wi-fi and wireless chargers according to industry sources. Consumers can customize and place their orders at self-ordering kiosks and get table service. Self-ordering kiosks already account for a fifth of the overall sales for stores that have these machines across the globe. It is expected that it will be quite popular in India, too, not just in the fast food segment but also in fine dining.
Cloud Kitchen and Ghost Restaurants
With the rising competition and technological developments, new inventions are kicking in every day. Several restaurants have forgone guest service and are focusing only on delivery. These restaurants don’t have a physical seating arrangement for guests but only a kitchen that prepares orders placed online for delivery. With the pace at which the restaurant industry is growing, cloud kitchens will be the next big thing in India.
In the past few years, the restaurant industry has flourished like never before as it embraced new technologies and innovations. Before the evolution of the internet, Facebook, YouTube and Live Videos, restaurateurs made it big through word of mouth and advertising. But now thanks to social media they have better and more approachable ways to reach their target audience. Social media and digital marketing for restaurants will continue to play a key role in defining their popularity. The ever-changing needs of the consumer and their exposure to global trends make it inevitable for restaurants to constantly innovate and bring in new ways to keep the customers coming to them.
About the Author
Apeksha Kamath is the Co-founder of Taiki Restaurant. She completed her MBA, Marketing and HR from Alliance Business Academy and did a stint in Doray HR Solution as a Director-Recurrent and Business Development. Apeksha's vision is to bring pan Asian cuisines to Namma Bengaluru across multiple locations.