With recent shifts in customer behavior patterns and technological advancements in the food and dining industry, there is an opportunity for restaurants to reimagine the customer experience, discover value in new products and services and use data to rethink business models. Agility, efficiencies and strong partnerships through digitally-led solutions are all critical ingredients on the menu for any service-based organization. Digital technology allows restaurants to meet diners where they are.
Across casual dining, quick-service restaurants (QSRs) and fast food, there has been a massive shift to off-premise service models and self-service ordering, which continues to become more automated through artificial intelligence technology and is unlikely to shift back to pre-pandemic levels.
Digitally transformed brands such as Starbucks, Chipotle, Chick-fil-A and McDonald’s have been reaping the benefits of digital, a key enabler in weathering the storm. McDonalds, for example, pivoted to a third-party delivery partnership with DoorDash in 2019. Chick-fil-A has also been quick to make moves on other digital initiatives, like in-house mobile ordering, geofencing technology, AI-powered data analytics and pick-up and delivery-only restaurant prototypes. While the chain’s unit count is less than half of other large fast-food chains, its drive-thru puts median sales for standalone units at $8.6 million for 2022, much higher than the average sales count for other chains.