7 Innovative Restaurant Technologies to Help Operators

Learn how to incorporate innovative restaurant technology to increase efficiency, lower costs, and enhance the guest experience.

17 min read
Restaurant technology

Year after year, innovative restaurant technology continues to provide new ways to improve and streamline operations.

Restaurateurs have been able to cut down on the number of staff hours required to complete many time-consuming tasks, freeing them up to invest more in big-ticket items, training and development, food, and upgrades.

Gone are the days of scribbling orders on little pads of paper, sliding them onto the line for cooks to pick up, and/or tallying up daily receipts with a calculator until the wee hours of the night. 

The latest technology offers modern alternatives to outdated or inefficient practices in daily operations — helping restaurants to engage and delight prospective customers and diners.

Today’s innovative restaurant technology: your go-to list

Software has made all things restaurant-related function more smoothly. Below is a go-to list of restaurant technology that every restaurateur needs today:

  • Restaurant Analytics Platforms

  • Self-Order Kiosks

  • Touchscreen Point of Sale Terminals

  • Kitchen Display Screens

  • Contactless Payments

  • Reservation Software

  • Integrated Online Ordering Solutions

Must-have technology for modern restaurants

Restaurant Analytics Platforms

Today’s restaurateur is data-obsessed. What’s the most popular lunch item? Which dessert is the most profitable? Which day of the week does the restaurant generate the most sales? Restaurant analytics platforms allow you to capture all of the data points related to your business and analyze that information to generate insights to help you optimize for efficiency or growth.

DoorDash’s Merchant Portal, accessible from anywhere, is an easy way for operators to keep track of key metrics such as sales, net payouts, customer ratings, popular items, and more. Even more convenient, Business Manager is a mobile app that makes it easy to track orders, review performance metrics, and monitor Dasher locations, all from your phone. Access 24/7 support, mark items out of stock, update store hours, get analytics, and more.

Business Manager app to manage restaurant analytics

Self-Order Kiosks

For today’s customers, convenience is king — and nothing is more convenient than the ability to browse all of the available options on a large touchscreen device and select any combination of items.

Digital kiosks allow customers to scroll through photos of each dish at their own pace, and even compare them side by side, to find the exact one to fulfill their current cravings. As an added bonus, digital kiosks help solve the current labor shortage since there’s no need to interact with a staff member to place and purchase an order. Kiosks can also be programmed to upsell and cross-sell various dishes, bringing in larger revenues — an average of 12% and 22% more, according to kiosk-maker GRUBBR’s CEO, Sam Zietz.

Touchscreen Point-of-Sale Terminals

A touchscreen point-of-sale (POS) system can optimize multiple restaurant workflows, replacing the physical location where the point of sale happens: the traditional cash register. Upon completion of the meal, the entire bill is automatically calculated and presented to the customer in an elegant and easy-to-use payment interface.

Depending on its level of functionality, the POS system can do much more. For some mobile POS systems, the waitperson places the order through a convenient touchscreen device, routing any food orders immediately to the kitchen, where the cooks can begin to prepare it, and any drink orders to the bar. Other systems can integrate with inventory management, subtracting the relevant ingredients in real-time, even generating notifications when an item is running low and needs to be reordered. 

Finally, many POS systems integrate with third-party delivery apps like DoorDash, allowing orders to flow directly to the kitchen and removing the need for an extra tablet.

Kitchen Display Screens

Many restaurants have made the switch to kitchen display systems (KDS) because of the increased efficiency for the entire meal operation. With a display system, there’s no longer any way to lose tickets or mess up their order. Each order is entirely visible to multiple members of the staff, and stays free of the sauce and grease stains that are the scourge of paper tickets. Orders move through the system in an organized and predictable manner, and — since everything is digital — at the end of the night, there’s less paper to throw away.

Contactless Payments

Contactless payments use mobile technology that allows customers to pay without making physical contact with an interface or card reader. Customers simply wave a card or phone over the payment device for the transaction. Already growing in popularity because of their convenience, as well as their privacy and data protection benefits, contactless payments became essential following the arrival of COVID-19 on the restaurant scene. New concerns about health and hygiene quickly made contactless payment solutions a more popular payment method for restaurants.

Restaurant Reservation Software

Modern restaurant technology has allowed the host to move from hand-written reservations in a giant book to a system that creates a better experience for your guests and an easier experience for your staff. Rather than requiring staff to answer phones and manually enter information, guests can input and update their own information online. Many platforms also offer a table management system to help with understanding capacity and table turnover. An added bonus is that a reservation system stores customer information, making it easier to market to them and draw them back.

Integrated Online Ordering Solutions

Many restaurants rely on takeout and delivery to supplement the revenue they receive from in-house dining. However, the changes in dining and ordering habits introduced by COVID-19 created even more urgency here — as a result, a significant number of restaurateurs committed further to establishing their off-premise dining options, partnering with third-party delivery services and offering direct online ordering.

With many customers preferring to order directly from a restaurant according to the 2022 Restaurant Online Ordering Trends Report, an integrated online ordering solution may be the ultimate answer. With a solution like DoorDash Storefront, customers can place orders — entirely commission-free — directly with your restaurant for takeout or delivery.

How innovative restaurant technology improves operations 

1. Improved communications translate to greater efficiency

A lot of magic happens behind the scenes at restaurants in order to deliver a seamless experience to diners. One way modern restaurants are improving their operations is with kitchen display systems, or digital screens, that allow the kitchen staff to track incoming orders and communicate more effectively with front-of-house staff, avoiding errors and improving accuracy.

Restaurants can integrate both dine-in and online orders into one cohesive management system so kitchen staff can rely on one system instead of multiple printers and tablets. Not only is this easier on staff, but it also ensures consistently delicious food and correct orders for your customers. 

Another type of restaurant ordering technology that will significantly improve the efficiency of restaurant operations is food delivery apps like DoorDash Drive.  In the past, staff had no option but to answer phone calls and write down orders on a piece of paper. But today, food delivery technology allows for fast online ordering from smartphones or other electronic devices.

The result? Your staff has more time for important tasks like tending to customers, clearing tables, and preparing orders for delivery. No matter the size of the order, DoorDash Drive is designed to handle all aspects of delivery orders with fast online technology that streamlines the process. Data shows that the average delivery travel time on a DoorDash order is only 37 minutes from when the order is placed to drop-off. 

This advanced restaurant ordering technology not only frees up your staff to do other work, but also allows you to customize your ordering process so that it works at an optimal level for the unique needs of your restaurant.

2. Technology fosters customer understanding 

Incorporating new restaurant technology helps operators to better understand customer preferences and desires — while boosting their brand and increasing revenue. 

One easy and efficient way to get to know your customers more deeply is with digital loyalty programs, a fresh update to traditional programs that have been around for decades. More and more tech-savvy restaurant owners are making the transition from plastic membership cards and keychain tags to digital loyalty apps that can be accessed directly from the customer's smartphone.

Digital loyalty programs appeal to customers because they can earn rewards every time they dine in or order takeout. At the same time, they benefit restaurants through the collection and sharing of data. For example, restaurants can learn which dishes are the most popular and adjust accordingly through menu customization.

As a result, you can meet demands in real-time, build brand loyalty, and strengthen your reputation for excellence, all while showing customers you care through a frequent dining rewards system.

3. Technology can boost data security

Another important part of improving your restaurant operations and strengthening your restaurant business plan is protecting the vast amount of data stored in POS and back-office systems. 

Data breaches can be a major problem for any restaurant, but with the right type of software, you can greatly reduce the threat of potential data thieves. 

One way to avoid becoming a target is to use malware software that protects against data pirating. This will allow you to securely store credit cards, employee information, and banking transactions within encrypted, cloud-based programs. 

We advise consulting with your provider to find out how you can maximize data security for optimal safeguarding against threats.

4. Software leads to sustainability

Not only is sustainability smarter for your business due to the reduction of expenses, but it also boosts your reputation as environmentally friendly. By incorporating sustainable business practices into your everyday operations, you can reduce food waste, source supplies from local organic farmers, and even transition to a paperless system — helping the environment and improving your restaurant experience. 

While sustainability is important, many restaurant owners continue to struggle with the practical aspect of incorporating these practices into daily operations. One solution is to implement a type of software that forecasts exactly how much food needs to be prepared for each shift. This new technology allows significant reductions in food waste caused by over-ordering or over-prepping. 

Restaurant software can also help operators streamline the ordering of supplies; it maintains a list of vendors that align with your restaurant's sustainable values and practices. Going paperless will also save a significant amount of trees while simultaneously reducing the amount of time spent on paperwork. 

Human resources software can take on day-to-day operations such as recruiting, training practices, onboarding, and more. These efforts will help the environment while also reducing costs — thereby boosting your bottom line.

5. Technology opens up 24/7 access

Virtual access to everyday essentials such as news, weather, and online banking, is a growing part of modern life. Everybody wants to be connected around the clock, regardless of location. Why should running a restaurant be any different? 

Mobile technology has gone from luxury status to a must-have tool for staying competitive and growing your business. By eliminating the need for a manager to be hunkered down in the back office keying data into a computer, your restaurant can save many wasted hours by enabling 24/7 access to sales, labor, and forecasting reports. 

With no need to wait for files to be transferred or verified, business operations can be done from anywhere — through a few taps on a smart device. Virtual access to back-office operations gives you and your employees the ability to order supplies, create schedules, and manage inventory counts — all from the convenience of a smart device.

The data stored in your POS and other systems can give real insights into what needs to be improved in daily operations — the key to giving you a competitive advantage.

6. Technology expands digital presence

In 2021, 90% of customers conduct research online before deciding where to eat. No time like the present to embrace an intuitive online ordering platform, and in turn improve your restaurant operations. 

Increased digital ordering opportunities create a more convenient and efficient experience for your guests. Dine-in guests can order from an app, tablet, or kiosk in-store, and off-premise customers can place a pickup or delivery order from the comfort of home. 

The result? Less miscommunication between guests and servers, a frictionless payment experience, and new business coming through the door — thanks to your compelling, interactive digital experience. 

Key ingredients for a compelling online ordering platform include recognizable branding, appealing visual elements, ease of use, and — of course — a mobile-friendly format. With so many customers turning to the internet to satisfy their next craving, modern restaurants can now capture the sales potential of online traffic and encourage first-time customers to come back for seconds. 

With Storefront, you can create a seamless online ordering experience by adding delivery and pickup ordering to your existing website — easily converting website visitors into paying customers. What's more, it only takes a few minutes to set up and orders are commission-free

Ready to embrace new technology?

As customer preferences and behavior continue to evolve, restaurateurs would do well to adapt by embracing technologies and solutions that can solve their day-to-day problems with the multitude of systems and workflows they touch.

Today’s customer has high standards and expects options that cater to a digital lifestyle — one that involves unique and memorable dining experiences on and off-premises. DoorDash technology and tools can help you manage your business on DoorDash and make data-driven decisions about your next menu update, location, and more. Learn more about how DoorDash can help you grow sales and reach more customers in the Product Guide for Merchants.


Andrew McCarthy

Andrew McCarthy

Content Lead

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