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Demand is growing for off-premises dining. The average consumer spends about $407 on delivery every month — a $157 increase from 2021. Customers are hungry for convenience and flexibility, and with the latest restaurant technology trends, it’s easier than ever to deliver. Investing in the latest innovations can help with everything from inventory management to multichannel marketing.

In this ever-changing environment, your restaurant’s ability to incorporate new technology can have a dramatic impact on the bottom line and the customer experience. To engage tech-savvy diners and stay competitive, you must stay up to date on the latest restaurant technology trends.

8 restaurant technology trends to pay attention to

In 2024, technology trends are all about efficiency, convenience, and personalization. Here are the major developments impacting the restaurant industry.

1. Inventory management software

Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning are becoming widely available, and software companies have been quick to integrate the technology. As a result, restaurant inventory management software is now more powerful. AI quickly combs through piles of sales and inventory data and delivers insights that can transform your operations.

Sophisticated inventory management software can:

  • Predict food and beverage volume based on historical trends
  • Schedule reorders automatically
  • Identify top-performing menu items, both in-store and for delivery and takeout
  • Refine ordering quantities, which reduces food spoilage and food waste

Tapping into AI trends can be a game changer for your restaurant. Smart technology works in the background, so you can spend less time combing through reports and more time running your business.

2. Self-order kiosks

Self-ordering kiosks have been around for years, but the technology has advanced exponentially. Now, kiosks allow customers to sign in to digital loyalty programs, use perks, and pay for their orders using a contactless processor. Many models have built-in AI that suggests different food items that align with the individual’s order history.

For restaurants, self-order kiosks can reduce lines and help diners get their meals quickly. This can be an effective way to boost customer satisfaction, particularly during the lunch rush. Does your restaurant serve many foreign tourists? Models with built-in translations allow international guests to conduct the contactless ordering process in the language of their choice.

3. Branded online ordering sites

According to a 2023 PYMNTS study, 62% of customers use Google to find new restaurants. That’s why branded online ordering sites are one of the top technology trends of 2024 — they expand your digital presence and help your business show up in more searches. That way, customers have more entry points into your online system. If they’re hungry and ready to order, the menu and shopping cart are just a click away.

Not sure how to set up a website and ordering system? Turn to Direct, a Grubhub platform that helps you build a customized online ordering site. Add your food items and branding elements to reflect your existing visual identity. Orders are commission-free, and you get full access to customer and sales data. If your restaurant is already listed on the Grubhub Marketplace, Direct can automatically import your logo, photos, and menu.

4. Digital loyalty programs

Restaurant loyalty programs have gone digital in recent years. Instead of punch cards, businesses are using web- or app-based programs. MyMcDonald’s Rewards is a great example — customers earn points by ordering food in the app or scanning a code on-site. As points accumulate, the app shows users which food items they can get for free.

Digital loyalty programs can have a powerful effect on buying behavior, even if you charge customers to join. In fact, paid programs could boost your bottom line even further. McKinsey found that when customers pay to join a brand’s loyalty program, they’re 59% more likely to choose that company instead of a competitor. When rewards are easily visible on an app or website, it’s even easier to get repeat business.

5. Contactless payments

Contactless payments, which are also known as “tap to pay,” are rapidly gaining traction in the United States. In 2023, 34% of Visa’s face-to-face card transactions used tap payments — an increase of more than 10% since 2022. The United States still lags behind the rest of the world, where 74% of Visa transactions were tapped, but businesses are upgrading their payment processors rapidly. Card issuers are catching up, too; most major providers now provide contactless credit and debit cards.

This restaurant payment processing technology trend isn’t going anywhere. Consumers love the convenience of paying with the tap of a phone, card, or smartwatch. If your restaurant still uses chip-and-PIN processing, now’s the time to make the switch. A digital POS system can ease the transition, letting you process transactions digitally. It also makes it easier to take advantage of Grubhub’s POS integration, which streamlines delivery and takeout orders.

6. QR codes

Restaurant QR codes saw widespread adoption during the pandemic, and they’re still going strong. Instead of ordering from a printed menu, customers simply scan the QR code, place an order, and pay using their phones. The codes are particularly popular in airport restaurants, where customers need to get in and out as quickly as possible.

This technology trend has significant benefits for restaurants:

  • Reduced labor requirements. Because orders are sent directly to the kitchen, servers can focus on running food and checking on tables. As a result, you may be able to function efficiently with a smaller staff.
  • Improved order accuracy. Customers are responsible for creating their own orders, so they’re less likely to send food back to the kitchen.
  • Easy menu updates. When you adjust your menu or run out of a dish, you don’t have to worry about correcting printed menus — simply adjust it in the online system. The changes are reflected instantly in the digital ordering environment.

QR codes are useful outside the restaurant, too. Put them on flyers, business cards, and brochures to help potential customers access your menu or online ordering system in seconds.

7. Food delivery packaging

New developments in manufacturing technology are driving an evolution in food packaging for delivery orders. Specifically, many restaurants are moving toward sustainable packages. Instead of foam and disposable plastic, they’re choosing eco-friendly alternatives such as recyclable fiber trays. The Chipotle chain, for example, has switched to compostable bowls made from plant fiber.

Biodegradable and recyclable packages are good for the planet, but they can also give you an advantage over competitors. After all, 67% of Americans believe corporations and large businesses aren’t doing enough to address climate change. Committing to sustainable alternatives can boost your restaurant’s public image.

Print-on-demand technology is also creating shifts in the restaurant industry; it enables smaller restaurants to access short print runs without breaking the bank. That way, you can order limited quantities of special package designs during sales, holidays, and other promotions.

8. Third-party delivery

Third-party food delivery was one of the most popular food delivery trends during the pandemic. These handy apps have established themselves firmly in the restaurant industry — and now, companies such as Grubhub are using technology to make delivery and takeout even easier.

While Grubhub Marketplace dramatically increases visibility for restaurant partners, the platform comes with a range of built-in tools to help you run your business. Use promotions to reel in new customers or encourage repeat orders; you can even target Grubhub+ members to reach high-value diners. Need to connect your delivery service to your POS system? Grubhub has you covered with quick and easy tech integrations. 

Why it’s critical to stay up to date

If your restaurant model has been working for years, is it really necessary to start implementing new technology? In short, yes. Modern consumers are increasingly comfortable with the latest tech, and they expect their favorite brands to get on board. Combine delicious meals with a smooth, digital-forward customer experience and you’ll satisfy foodies and techies alike — and stay competitive in the process.

There’s no doubt about it: Technology will continue to streamline restaurant operations for years to come. Restaurant owners must adapt to new restaurant trends and stay flexible to continue delivering the best possible customer experience.

Restaurant technology is the future: Get on board with Grubhub

At Grubhub, we’re proud to stay ahead of the technological curve. Our team is constantly evaluating and incorporating new tools and innovations so our restaurant partners can enjoy easy access. Interested in how Grubhub can help you stay on top of new restaurant technology trends? Get started with Grubhub today to prepare your restaurant for a successful future.