15 Digital Food Tools and Apps Every Restaurant Owner Needs to Know
Welcome to Restaurant 2.0
Dining has officially gone digital – for restaurant guests and owners alike. Overwhelmed by all the tech at your fingertips? Use this guide to 15 of the latest, greatest food tools and apps – from in-venue TV marketing software to online reservation apps – to help you navigate the dining digital waters.
Digital POS System
Toast POS is one example of the most important food tools to consider: a digital point of sale system. Today’s digital POS systems are built to seamlessly integrate with almost every tool on this list: inventory management, online reservations, and TV marketing software. Use these tips for selecting the best digital restaurant POS system.
Food Management Tools
Many restaurant owners use a single food service supplier for one reason: convenience. But you’re missing out on cost savings, new products, plus an opportunity to tap into the “buy local” trend.
Try BlueCart, a food tool that connects you to over 40,000 suppliers. BlueCart lets you order from multiple vendors – including your current supplier – all in one convenient place.
BevSpot speeds up and simplifies the process of taking food and beverage inventory. Then, you can track inventory in real time on your smartphone or computer. BevSpot even alerts you when inventory is low, too high, or near expiration. For example, before that surplus of beer goes flat, you could run an instant pitcher special using TV marketing (see the next tool…)
Menu, TV Marketing and More
Turn your existing TVs into eye-catching digital ads – it’s affordable and fast. Most TV marketing software comes with templates you can customize to spotlight menu items. A Nielson study found that when digital signage is used at the point of sale (when guests are in your venue), sales of featured items increased by up to 33%. You could also use TV marketing to spotlight a star employee or customer of the month.
From sports bars to upscale eateries, tech-forward restaurants are handing guests a touchscreen tablet menu – instead of a printed version. Guests are shown extras and add-ons for each dish, so they can build out their perfect meal. Some tablet menus even let guests send orders straight to the kitchen! Plus, like TV marketing, tablet menus can showcase high-margin menu items.
Not ready for digital tablet menus and TV marketing? At least try this app. Canva Menu Maker makes it simple to design a modern-looking printed menu in a few clicks.
ChefTalk is a free online forum where over 70,000 chefs actively seek out and share menu tips. If your chef needs a little inspiration, send them to ChefTalk.
Online Review and Reservation Platforms
In 2017, Toast POS asked 2,000 diners which technological feature was most important to their dining experience. It wasn’t free wi-fi, tablet menus or TV marketing…
Online reservations came out on top – with only 5% of respondents stating it “was not important.”
Today, the best online reservation platforms also double as review sites. And online reviews matter now – more than ever. Consumers read an average of 7 online reviews before trusting a business, according to a 2017 report by Bright Local.
The first step is to claim your business listing for free on these sites. That way, you can actively respond to reviews – both positive and negative. For an additional fee, explore accepting online reservations as well.
If you decide to accept online reservations, let your customers know! To spread the word, use email marketing, social media, in-venue tablet and TV marketing, and your own staff.
Yelp is the #1 local online review site, according to ComScore. As of February 2018, there are over 148 million user-generated reviews on Yelp.
If you haven’t already, sign up for a free Yelp Business account. Then customize your Yelp page, respond to reviews, upload photos – and even create a “Yelp” deal.
Use in-venue marketing to remind guests to leave a Yelp review: put up posters, table tents, and run TV marketing messages.
While Yelp is most popular for online reviews, OpenTable is tops for online reservations. If you accept online reservations through one platform, it should be OpenTable. Like Yelp, use every marketing resource available – TV marketing, emails, and your staff – to notify guests that you’re on OpenTable.
Zomato (Formerly Urbanspoon)
Based in India, Zomato isn’t as big as Yelp and OpenTable in the U.S. However, millions of Americans still post reviews each month, so claim your business listing today.
Nope, it’s not just a hotel review tool. Users can also post and view restaurant reviews. In fact, TripAdvisor recently added online restaurant reservation functionality. Get on the radar of out-of-town visitors: claim and manage your listing today.
Online Food Order and Delivery
According to 2017 research by NPD Group, 50% of restaurant meals are consumed at home. If you’re offering takeout, that’s a good start. Now, go a step further and bring meals to their doorstep.
If you sign up for these services, tell your guests using TV marketing, email, and social media.
Grubhub is a mobile app that lets customers order a meal from a restaurant – which is then delivered by the restaurant’s driver or a Grubhub driver. It’s the most widely used food delivery app in the U.S.
Grubhub does take a percentage of each order, but it may be worth it. Grubhub claims restaurants see a 50% increase in monthly orders after a year of using the app.
If you get on Grubhub, share the good news with TV marketing and other in-venue promotions. Current customers will likely use Grubhub next time they’re craving your food at home!
Uber Eats uses independent drivers to deliver your restaurant’s food. This tool is only available in about 50 cities in America; but it’s growing quickly…
Like Uber Eats, DoorDash has limited service areas: mainly large cities. Visit the website to request DoorDash in your area.
One of the newest delivery apps, OrderUp is known for fast, fresh delivery of restaurant food. See if it’s available in your area.
When it comes to food-related technology and tools, don’t pile too much on your plate! Start small. Try claiming your online review listings or give TV marketing a try. Remember: even if you don’t have a big appetite for tech, your customers are hungry for it. Want more
About Author: Buzztime has delivered on its mission statement for over three decades: bring the best in-venue entertainment to businesses – and the guests they serve.