Artificial intelligence is no longer part of a hypothetical time to come, it is already prevalent in our everyday lives. From taking a cab to food delivery apps, our everyday activities are supported by intelligent algorithms. AI technology enhances the lives of individuals and it is leveraged by entrepreneurs from all walks of life to maximize the efficiency of their operations. One thing for sure is that AI technology is the way of the future.
What is AI for restaurants?
AI solutions for restaurants are based on intelligent algorithms and use machine learning. Taking the role of virtual assistants, AI systems can handle restaurant operations and predict consumer behavior. They can also gauge and influence customer satisfaction. In the restaurant industry, examples of AI solutions include AI-controlled kiosks, voice ordering, AI-powered online ordering systems, etc.
How can artificial intelligence increase restaurant sales?
As state-of-the-art virtual assistants, AI solutions are able to automate most restaurant operations and upsell to customers unobtrusively by recognizing patterns in customer behavior and restaurant business trends.
Machine learning algorithms
The abilities of AI technology can be further enhanced with the aid of machine learning. Algorithms implementing machine learning can anticipate and distinguish patterns in data to guide decision-making. When streaming services like YouTube or Spotify recommend content based on a user’s preferences, this content has been chosen by a machine learning algorithm that knows what a specific user is most likely to prefer.
Likewise, smart ordering systems like UEAT include an artificial intelligence module (RAI™) so that restaurant owners can personalize the customer experience. RAI™ knows what customers love and can upsell in a non-intrusive way by recommending items based on an analysis of the customer’s order history, his personal preferences and more. Thanks to personalized recommendations, restaurants are able to achieve higher ticket sizes and conversion rates as well as optimize their menu.
Benefits of artificial intelligence technology for the restaurant industry
Automation can drastically reduce the number of menial tasks restaurant operators need to perform, thereby reducing the use of resources associated with these tasks. Virtual assistants can also reduce the workload on staff, minimize food waste, and lower operation costs by increasing the overall efficiency of restaurant processes.
From monitoring the expiration date of ingredients to streamlining customer orders, artificial intelligence optimizes the operations of a restaurant business. A human waiter may mishear an order, while an AI solution receives direct input from the customer. Machines don’t get tired or distracted, plus every decision an AI makes is supported by data, which is analyzed by smart algorithms in real-time.
Loyalty program integration
Clients of UEAT’s online ordering system can sync loyalty programs and gift card management systems with the app, improving the customer experience by offering easily redeemable and personalized rewards.
Improving customer satisfaction
Smart ordering platforms are efficient marketing tools. Through UEAT, restaurant operators can access business intelligence reports, which they can use to fine-tune their marketing strategies. Data on restaurant technology trends, changes in customer behavior, and menu item performance can be analyzed to increase customer satisfaction.
Restaurant owners who use UEAT’s online ordering system can sync their data with Google Analytics and Google Tag Manager to track conversion and increase the performance of their remarketing tactics. Plus, UEAT can develop your very own branded app so that customers can easily order and pay from their smartphones or tablets.
Improving customer experiences
A machine learning algorithm’s interaction with customers doesn’t end once a food order has been processed. Smart food ordering platforms like UEAT can tailor the user experience by remembering a returning customer’s preferences to upsell the right way.
Upselling is easier with AI technology. Smart algorithms can understand data from context. For a restaurant, this means that AI can offer customers products complementary to the order they’re making. If AI has evidence that two products are often enjoyed at the same time by customers, it begins to understand they sell well together.
Furthermore, AI can review weather forecasts and other details it finds relevant, and use that data to influence a purchase. Depending on the weather conditions, an AI module may decide to start offering ice cream on sunny days and coffee when it is cold outside. Other factors that can be taken into consideration are demographic data, time of day, holidays, and much more.
6 Ways AI is leveraged in restaurants
1. Smart online ordering systems
Customers ordering from generic ordering platforms like Ubereats and Doordash have to cope with annoying pop-ups and other sleazy marketing tactics, while restaurateurs deal with high commission prices and service providers who keep all the valuable data about restaurant operations to themselves.
Smart ordering systems provide a highly personalized ordering and paying experience directly from a customer’s personal device of choice. Without going through the hassle of creating an account, users only need to download the app and go through a quick 3-step process to make a purchase.
UEAT offers restaurants their own branded food delivery app tailored to their brand. A company’s logo, color palette, and particular features can be featured on the app, without the need for restaurateurs to write a single line of code. A restaurant’s own branded app goes a long way in making it stand out from the crowd.
Upselling through a food delivery app is easier than ever thanks to smart algorithms’ access to comprehensive customer and analytics data. By having empirical evidence of what menu items entice customers the most, the platform can decide what promotions and extra food items to offer. A design with the latest advances in cybersecurity in mind guarantees all of your customers’ data is safe when using the platform.
2. Predictive analytics
Predictive analytics is one of the many skills of machine learning algorithms. By performing a thorough analysis of recorded data, artificial intelligence can provide an assessment of how future events will play out. Using predictive models allows restaurants to offer better service to customers. AI technology can gauge customer interest and contrast it to current trends and a history of customer behaviors, in order to provide an experience designed to enhance customer satisfaction.
3. Inventory management
Food preparation is impossible without the help of ingredients, making supply acquisition crucial for the success of any restaurant. Inventory keeping and buying duties can be easily handled by AI technology while also applying machine learning methods to increase the efficiency of restaurant operations.
Artificial intelligence is able to keep track of a restaurant’s inventory and purchasing information to know what food choices are more convenient to offer to customers depending on different factors. AI can also make recommendations on what food items restaurant operators should buy, or better yet, make the purchase itself.
AI solutions can place orders on ingredients and are also able to monitor their arrival, making sure restaurant kitchens are supplied at all times. Furthermore, they can also supervise the expiration date of food supplies to maximize inventory usage while preventing food waste!
4. AI-driven kiosks
Since their inception in the global market in the mid-1980s, interactive kiosks have been used by all kinds of industries to provide communication, entertainment, education, and commerce solutions with the help of a computer terminal. Nowadays kiosks can be used to pay phone bills, check-in at the airport, buy movie tickets, and order food.
Self-ordering kiosks can work in tandem with cashiers, using impacting visuals to guide and entice customers. Kiosks for restaurants include product building functions, which allow users to customize their orders and pay for them. While this might seem impressive, there is much more artificial intelligence can do for interactive kiosks.
The future of restaurant kiosks may lie right in the hands of customers. By taking advantage of QR codes, the functionality of AI-driven kiosks can be delivered to customers’ smartphones. This allows people to view menus, place their orders, and pay for them on their mobile phones, and, even better, they don’t have to stand in line.
5. Voice ordering
Voice commerce is on the rise. Research performed at a global scale by GlobalWebIndex found that more than 25% of people use the voice functionality features of their phones (source). Some of the biggest technology companies like Amazon, Google, and Apple make constant efforts to be strongly positioned in this market. For the restaurant industry, voice commerce offers a world of opportunity.
Voice ordering has the potential to be implemented in AI-driven kiosks and drive-throughs, allowing for contactless food ordering, something that will be appreciated by the many customers who, facing the aftermath of the covid-19 pandemic, prefer to maintain physical contact at a minimum. Voice ordering can also be used on customers’ own devices like phones and tablets, adding an extra layer of accessibility to the ordering process!
6. Smart marketing tools
From social media platforms to mailing lists, there are many avenues for restaurants to reach current and potential clients… and smart platforms can take your marketing efforts to the next level. The marketing tools in platforms like UEAT sync with Google Analytics to monitor and increase the performance of your marketing efforts.
AI collects users’ restaurant queries inconspicuously and applies that knowledge to provide unbiased information about their needs and desires. Furthermore, customers interacting with the platform benefit from timely and personalized promotions.
Will AI be the answer to the restaurant industry food waste problem?
Artificial intelligence can reduce food waste by improving logistics, thereby limiting resource use. According to the United Nations environment program, 1.3 billion tonnes of food are wasted every year, and the carbon footprint generated by the production of food that will end up being wasted accounts for 3.3 billion tonnes of CO2 (source). This means that if food waste was a country, its greenhouse gas emissions would be the third largest in the world, after the United States and China.
The features of restaurant technology can help restaurant operators find solutions to reduce food waste, without hindering the dining experience. AI technology solutions to curb restaurant food waste include:
- Purchase to meet inventory needs
AI is able to consider several variables when purchasing ingredients and other wares necessary for a restaurant business to function. In contrast to human restaurant operators, AI technology constantly monitors the inventory and only purchases the items that are needed. AI can also account for expiration dates, seasonal preferences, and many other factors.
- Strategic offering of menu items
Since AI can monitor inventory, it can use this information to personalize the customer experience while also saving on resources. A smart online ordering system can decide what food choices to offer customers based on current inventory. By adjusting inventory purchases to prioritize items that sell better, AI can reduce the amount of food that is not consumed.
- Optimizing the menu
Artificial Intelligence can report on the performance of menu items, giving restaurant operators a clear idea of what is selling well and what isn’t. Not only is this great to know what items are popular, but it also lets restaurant operators know what options should be reconsidered. This optimization process can lead to more products selling, thereby reducing food waste..
The future of AI for restaurants
Shifting customer expectations and restaurant technology trends show that the future of the restaurant industry is closely linked to AI solutions. Not only is artificial intelligence incredibly beneficial to restaurant operations, but it can also be used to improve the customer experience in a myriad of ways.
While the covid-19 pandemic might have forced the restaurant industry to adapt, many changes are for the better. People have easily adapted to online ordering systems, while restaurant owners have fewer logistic issues to worry about. From reducing delivery time by optimizing travel routes to knowing what sells best on the weekends, there is no doubt that restaurant AI and smart ordering systems can improve many aspects of the food industry.