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Innovation and Technology in the Food and Beverage Industry due to COVID-19

In just one year, the COVID-19 pandemic introduced wide-ranging changes to the Food and Beverage (F&B) industry that would typically take years. With limited capacity due to social distancing guidelines, restaurants had to turn to technology to help them succeed through challenging times. Restaurants implemented innovative ideas and technology like online ordering, contactless pick-up and delivery, QR code menus, waitlist applications, and social media advertisement to stay competitive in the marketplace.

The Customer Experience

Online ordering has stormed through the F&B industry due to state guidelines limiting capacity. Many businesses include contactless pick-up or delivery to ensure customers can safely order from their favorite restaurants. According to Square’s 2021 Future of Restaurants report, 75% of restaurants plan to offer contactless ordering and payment options across all channels (Square). To help with high delivery demand, third-party services like Uber Eats and Door Dash rose in popularity. Although there are commissions associated with these third-party services– which can vary from 10-25%– they can enhance revenue by providing exceptional convenience to customers.

To ensure safety by cutting down on shared surfaces, restaurants adapted from old-school paper menus to QR code menus that customers can access online. There are minimal costs for these QR code menus, but they can vary depending on the complexity of the menu and the number of items.

Restaurants are also using waitlist applications such as TablesReady, which helps manage the customer’s waiting experience. Waitlist applications allow guests to add themselves to the restaurant’s list, send SMS and phone alerts, and offer predictive wait times. The costs can range from $70-$100 per month, depending on usage.

A most recent study from Emarketer shows that 90% of Millennials, 77% of Gen X, and 48% of baby boomers use social media. With the new age of social media, restaurants and bars are taking advantage of free advertisement on platforms like Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Tik Tok (Restaurant Business). Restaurants are posting about their daily food and drink specials, special events and videos of their socially distant set-up to show viewers that their restaurant is safe. Users, on average, spend three hours a day on social media platforms, so by getting your business on these networks, you will be able to reach a wider market.

The Employee Experience 

Restaurants can also implement Microsoft Teams to better manage employee communications, quickly chat, access relevant training materials and keep up with team updates through the Teams desktop or mobile apps. Specifically, Microsoft created a solution, aptly named Shifts, for creating and maintaining employee schedules. Integrated fully within Microsoft Teams, this solution supports time management and provides a single location for workers to communicate and collaborate. Restaurant leadership can create a shared calendar in Teams that maintains employee schedules, manages time-off requests, allows employees to swap shifts and even enables employees to punch in and out via a time clock function. Administrators can also enable a location detection feature, which prevents employees from clocking in and out when they are not physically present at the restaurant. Teams and Shifts can integrate with many existing workforce management platforms to create a seamless, modern employee experience.

With all the available technology out there, it is crucial to make sure your restaurant and bar are up to date with the latest innovations to enhance revenue, customer interaction and collaboration among employees.

Author: Jordan Ghaffari, CPA | jghaffari@withum.com

Learn more about pandemic impacts on the food and beverage industry in this episode of our Take Me to the Cloud Podcast. Listen in as we examine the the state of the food industry and introduce ideas for planning and preparing for change.

Contact our Withum’s team member to help address your business challenges.

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