Artificial Intelligence (AI) is entering almost every industry today. From smart personal assistants, such as Siri, Cortana and Google Now to automated responders and sales and business forecasting, the technology has exploded in the past few years with dozens of startup companies and major AI initiatives launched in the global market. In the last couple of years, AI has managed to become an integral part of industries that involve direct interaction with customers, restaurant industry being one of the few first adopters of this emerging tech.
Investing in artificial intelligence (AI) does not effectively mean placing robots in your restaurant that will replace humans. It simply means making processes simpler, faster and much effective so the business can save time and resources on things that can be easily handled by machines. All in all, AI helps restaurants automate routine tasks and better understand their customers by analyzing their behaviour, resulting in reduce operational costs and personalized experiences.
AI in the restaurants - examples
AI in restaurants can start with simple online apps and chatbot assistants to interact with customers. A chatbot can effectively reduce manual labour when dealing with table reservations, customer orders. Some examples of chatbot integrations in restaurants can be order tracking, support and feedback, customized marketing campaigns to customers, and so on.
Dominos restaurant chain introduced AI into their ordering system as early as 2015 where customers could order a pizza simply by texting a pizza emoji to the Dominos chatbot. In 2017, they even integrated their ordering system with support for virtual assistants like Alexa, Google Home from where you can place orders directly. The biggest advantage of a chatbot is its 24x7 availability and a one-time investment when compared to employing a full-time employee in the restaurant.
In 2018, TGI Fridays partnered with Hypergiant to create Flanagan, an AI-powered mixologist that provides personalized cocktails to diners. The idea was to create a unique and memorable experience for customers that would not only increase customer frequency but also demonstrate the brand's innovative mindset.
Another technique that’s in practice with McDonald's and other famous chains is to place self-automated kiosks for easier and hassle-free food ordering. This ideally saves a lot of time for both the restaurant and the customer. Customers no longer have to wait in long queues to place orders. These Kiosks also provide food recommendations based on the customer's past preferences.
With more than 50% using voice search when looking for new products, a Dallas based food chain implemented voice-based ordering in 2017. Voice ordering accounts for more than 20% of the daily sales for this restaurant chain.
Why invest in AI for your restaurant?
The benefits of AI and automation extend beyond machines taking orders, making recommendations and delivering food. The widespread adoption of this emerging tech will impact how restaurants employ and utilize staff. It also enables restauranteurs can utilize the data acquired to improve customer's experience. This trend is becoming easily accessible and hence, on a verge of being mainstream in the food and beverage sector. Let’s take a look at other benefits of implementing AI in a restaurant:
- Efficiency and Cost Savings – AI in restaurants help the management to save on hiring costs, the cost to manage the staff and their efficiency. Implementing an AI solution even gives the restaurant the flexibility to be available 24x7 for the customers.
- User suggestions and recommendations – Customers can make a better choice of food according to their dietary requirements.
- Fewer mistakes – With an AI solution in place, especially in the ordering and delivery section, the scope of mistakes is very minimal when compared to a human performing the same operation.
- Redundant tasks, back office jobs – AI solutions can help restaurant managers to perform repeated tasks at faster speeds
- Predictive analysis – Say, its Christmas eve or a Thanksgiving weekend! Your AI solution can predict the inflow of customers during a time period, and can also help with automatic scheduling. Your AI solution can reach out to your vendors and order for inventory required to meet the demands.
- Data Management – AI comes in very handy for analysing the data. Example: Ingest.AI brings all the data from your restaurant operation into a single place. You will get clear visibility on the restaurant performance, how effective your staff are, and more data on a single dashboard. You neither have to scramble across different applications nor have multiple dashboards to gather the data. Ingest.AI also helps in forecasting when your demand will increase and plan for that in advance.
While the costs involved with setting up AI is high for small restaurants, AI is where the restaurant business can see increased savings and improved customer experience. AI will not eliminate human work completely but reduce the burden on staff who perform multiple job roles. With AI in place, your employees can focus on other revenue generating streams. Want to know how you can automate your restaurant processes? Speak to our experts today!