There might be an air of gloom hanging around the UK economy as we edge towards Brexit – but at least predictions for the restaurant trade are fairly upbeat.
It’s been estimated that foodservice visits could rise by a huge 93m in 2019 as consumers continue to spend their hard-earned cash on food.
And with UK employment at a record high, and wages rising at the highest rate in a decade while interest rates remain low, diners certainly have cash in their pockets.
So what are the 7 trends that will shape dining in 2019 – and how will restaurant POS feed into them?
1. Feed me now
Signs are that diners are not eating out as much in the evening, and not so formally – but that’s not to say they’ve stopped eating out.
Instead, there’s going to be steady growth in sharing breakfast and brunch – and lunch will continue to be a big market, rising by around 2%.
For these busy and time-constrained guests, speed of service will be paramount.
Outlets with restaurant POS will benefit from quick ordering by tablet – payments can also be taken at tableside, making the experience swift and seamless.
2. Hi, robot
The combination of mobile technology, millennial diners and restaurant POS is making a huge difference in the way restaurants deliver personal interaction.
Younger guests can prefer messaging to emails or calls, so many restaurants seeking their business will exploring chatbots in 2019.
The technology is already in place – look at how Open Table integrates with Facebook Messenger. It means people chatting about dinner plans on Messenger can be booked into your restaurant by a helpful bot.
3. Hey, Alexa – deliver more business
Thanks to the arrival in homes of Alexa, the Google Home Hub and Facebook’s Portal smart speaker, voice searches are on the up – ComScore reckons that by 2020, they’ll make up 50% of all searches.
The potential for restaurants is enormous; imagine your customer hearing your ad on Spotify at dinnertime and immediately placing an order or booking a table, with restaurant POS available 24/7 to handle the incoming business.
The technology will also open up a whole new world of business in 2019 for restaurants who will be able to offer delivery for the first time.
4. Allergy awareness
This is the trend no-one wants – but with food allergies on the rise, it’s estimated that around 10 people will die in the UK in 2019 because of a bad reaction to an ingredient.
For chefs designing dishes, restaurant POS can be an incredible help.
For instance, a technology partnership between NFS’ Aloha restaurant management technology and the Kitchen CUT F&B management platform provides help in areas ranging from cost control to ingredient selection and allergen warnings.
5. Sooo casual…
Casual dining has been a huge trend in hospitality for several years, with many customers opting to take no more than 45 minutes over their meal.
For the fast and casual markets, restaurant POS is providing an incredible tool, integrating with self-service kiosks and kitchen automation.
So diners can order, pay, eat and go – and you’re ready for the next customers.
6. The incredible shrinking labour pool
This another one of those trends people aren’t too keen to think about. But there’s no doubt, labour is getting short.
In fact, it’s estimated by analysts KPMG that around 75% of serving staff in the UK are of EU origin.
Thanks to Brexit, many have already left, and that’s set to continue. Meanwhile, the scarcity of skills and availability is driving up wages – it’s an uncomfortable combination.
Where restaurant POS helps is in capturing data that helps restaurateurs match staffing levels to the peaks and troughs of trade, so good customer service is always maintained but costs are kept under control.
Comprehensive reports reveal the busiest times – and the technology also uses the data to provide forecasts that inform planning decisions.
7. The ethical eater
Veganism has gained enormous ground in 2018, and will be persuading many UK restaurants to tweak their menus in the coming year.
But vegan or not, ethical food production is high on the agenda for both diners and chefs in 2019.
Diners will want to know that restaurants are keeping food waste to a minimum – and chefs will know clever stock control is also directly linked to a healthy bottom line.
As with labour, restaurant POS reports can create ideal conditions for good stock control, identifying best-selling dishes so stock is correctly ordered, and allowing chefs to control dishes down to ingredient level.
So – good luck in 2019!
It’s going to be a rollercoaster ride for the UK restaurant industry, we know – but those who make the most of technology to streamline their operations will be well-placed to survive the ride.
The benefits of good software were demonstrated recently when two of our restaurant POS clients, Honest Burger and Dishoom, won Best Restaurant Operator titles for their categories in the Restaurant Magazine awards.
Don’t have restaurant management technology yet? Make it number one on your New Year’s resolution list for 2019 – and get ready for a year no-one is going to forget.