Foodservice technology advances rapidly in the age of COVID-19: Technomic

New whitepaper sheds light on evolving advancements in restaurant industry

Technology will play a bigger role in the age of COVID-19 in the restaurant industry. Restaurant chains are wise to implement new technology to gain advantage. New findings in a whitepaper published by foodservice consultancy Technomic, Inc., Foodservice technology in the age of COVID-19, provides greater insight into rapidly-evolving advancements.

According to Aimee Harvey, Technomic senior managing editor, a convenience-based momentum for this evolution of technology is now being propelled by a need to establish “community.” One example of this is how restaurant chains have been offering contactless ordering and payment to their customers to “keep them safe” as part of broader messaging that customers and restaurants are united and working through the pandemic together.

Ghosts kitchens are growing, and nearly every restaurant has been transformed into a ghost kitchen, notes Technomic. Add to this, the technology-based kitchens provided by companies like DoorDash REEF Technology and Kitchen United, and restaurant delivery is becoming multi-faceted. “Additionally, frictionless
technology formats such as Amazon Go and numerous ‘just-walk-out’ convenience stores are providing a contact-free, app-driven experience for consumers to source prepared foods without risking their health through personal interaction,” writes Harvey.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, consumers have become increasingly concerned about their health. And many consumers are not returning to restaurants. About 44 percent of consumers are not planning to return to on-premises dining anytime soon, according to data provided by Technomic in a separate COVID-19 business update. Thus, technology can be used to re-enhance the dining experience, enabling additional safety.


Adoption of new technology tools is critical to restaurant success. According to consumers, the three top chains that are “winning at tech to improve the overall experience” are Chick-fil-A (25.1 percent), Pollo Campero (25 percent) and Brio Tuscan Grille (24.4 percent). Chick-fil-A has been known for its friendly service and that could be an overarching contributor to how the chain is regarded, regardless of how advanced its technology really is. Consumers are giving Chick-fil-A credit for its history of personalized service; however, the chain has indeed rolled out new advances in mobile technology and at its drive-thrus, according to Foodservice technology.

On the subject of drive-thrus, AI is continuing to personalize the experience and provide for suggestive selling at McDonald’s. The fast-food giant acquired Apprente in 2019, after making another acquisition to bolster its digital presence. Harvey writes, “…McDonald’s also purchased Dynamic Yield, an online personalization startup that has allowed the chain to alter digital menu boards in the drive thru based on time of day, weather and how busy the restaurant may be.

KFC is also enhancing technology at its drive-thrus, and potentially also making investments in AI to personalize the experience. AI is a tool that requires a significant amount of investment, but can position restaurant companies ahead of the competition. Harvey suggests that companies share what type of personal data is collected and stored to provide consumers with transparency and allay concerns. For additional insights, navigate to Technomic’s whitepaper here.

Photo credit: REEF Technology (featured preview image)

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