December 18, 2023 Featured Resource

Tech Trends to Expect in 2024

Despite the challenges restaurants face with an unsustainable delivery ecosystem, the economic outlook and trends for restaurant technology in 2024 are promising. Here are three tech trends to expect in the new year.

1. AI Everything

AI was all anyone could talk about in 2023, and the buzz will continue into 2024. The good news is that as we see more AI adoption, we are also seeing the full spectrum of restaurant uses. From helping with staff scheduling to managing inventory to streamlining food preparation to enhancing the customer service experience, and so much more, AI applications for restaurants are plentiful. 

Implementation of AI has broader implications for restaurants. Utilizing tech like to help with staff scheduling also optimizes profitability through better anticipated labor and food costs. Inventory management done by AI can help reduce food waste, increasing profitability and appeal to environmentally conscious consumers. Automating customer communications can help reduce stress on employees, increase efficiency, and improve customer experience during labor shortages. In 2023, nearly 46% of restaurant owners had already adapted AI to enhance communication with customers, and that percentage is expected to increase in 2024.

2. Off-Premise Innovation Continues

Food at your fingertips is only gaining popularity. With the number of anticipated food delivery users set to reach 2.5 billion by 2028, we can expect to see continued evolution in delivery experiences in 2024. Off-premise sales make up 30% of restaurants’ total sales and is a category expected to grow as restaurants seek to reduce their physical footprint, improve speed of service, and optimize labor. 

The big third-party delivery companies are looking for new revenue launching their own kitchens and food brands, as well as constantly expanding their offerings with UberEats and DoorDash both providing more ways to search in-app for food and other delivery items. They also are incorporating new loyalty and guest feedback features. However, as the big delivery platforms evolve, there’s also a rise in restaurants looking to offer their own delivery to take back control of their customer relationships, like McDonald’s projecting 30% of its deliveries will originate from its own app by 2027. McDonald’s is investing heavily to encourage app downloads and loyalty with 150 million 90-day active users now generating $20 billion in sales. 

As more companies turn towards autonomous delivery, Domino’s has explored using self-driving delivery cars to deliver orders. UberEats, Walmart, and Pizza Hut have all partnered with Serve Robotics to trial offer robot delivery. Chick-fil-A is currently piloting a drone delivery option. All of these alternatives seek to lower labor costs and increase efficiency and improve customer experience.

3. Robots From the Counter to the Kitchen

A big trend for 2024 is increasing efficiency and elevating customer experience all while optimizing labor. Self-order kiosks are becoming more universally accepted by customers who find them easier and more precise to order from and by operators who enjoy the efficiency and upsell opportunity. Tech integration doesn’t stop at the order counter. More companies are looking towards robotic meal preparation to further streamline customer experience. Sweetgreen is testing a new customer experience where orders are placed at a digital tablet then prepared by an automated salad robot before it is finished and set on a shelf by a human for pickup. Other companies like Chipotle and White Castle are similarly looking to implement robots for meal preparation.