Artificial intelligence is devouring the restaurant industry.
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Delivery sales are projected to grow at more than three times the rate of revenue from customers dining in at restaurants, according to a report from L.E.K. consulting. And more than half of customers are ordering food directly from a restaurant's app or website, according to the same report.
Here's how the restaurant industry is leveraging artificial intelligence to boost sales and reach more customers.
Revenue for the online food delivery market is $16,980 million and is slated to increase 7.5% by 2023, according to data firm Statista.com. And more restaurants are rolling out delivery-only models to cater to the demand.
“Every day I was scared, every day [there] was more pressure on me…” Mohammed Abouelenein, co-founder of The Halal Guys recalls, “when you do something and you love it, you're going to find a good result.” Their simple, yet delicious, dish paired with the magical white sauce, catapulted the street vendor to stardom. Now, as the second highest-grossing ethnic restaurant chain in the U.S., The Halal Guys continue to prove that the American dream is alive and well.
Uber Eats uses neighborhood sales data to find the white space in demand for different types of cuisines, the New York Times reported. Then it will approach nearby restaurants that already use the app and recommend they open up a virtual restaurant to feed the demand. There’s even a startup called CloudKitchens, run by former Uber chief executive Travis Kalanick, that curates ghost kitchens in leased spaces to churn out food specifically for delivery.
Tech to recommend food choices
In the fast-food space, McDonald’s acquired Dynamic Yield, an A.I. company, for $300 million to personalize its dining experience for customers. The tech recommends food choices based on anything from time of day, to weather and geo-trends.
Other chains have used big data to get information on customers' allergies and taste preferences. Culver City, Calif.-based salad chain Sweetgreen's mobile app does more than just place food orders. When customers order on the app, they're prompted to select from a list of dietary restrictions like soy, gluten and nuts. Menu items that contain those ingredients are then flagged to the customer so they know to avoid them, and their personalized preferences are saved for future orders.
Restaurants are using A.I. to reach potential new hires
Fast food restaurants are also using A.I. for the hiring process. Job applicants with access to Amazon’s virtual assistant Alexa or Google’s Assistant can apply via its voice-initiated job application process.
Once users ask, “Alexa, help me get a job at McDonald’s” or ‘Google, talk to McDonald’s Apply Thru,” the voice assistant will ask the country you want to work in. The Apply Thru application, as its called, is available for jobs in the United States, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom, with more countries to follow.
McDonald’s has already allowed job seekers to apply by text or via social media and messaging apps to streamline hiring.
A.I. for online ordering
A number of restaurants have implemented online ordering systems. Pizza Hut purchased the online ordering platform QuikOrder last year, to help improve and personalize its online ordering experience and speed up the delivery process. Other pie chains like Dominos rolled out its Pizza Tracker app in 2008, allowing customers to track their pizza from when its being made until its delivered.
Last week, Bloomin’ Brands-owned Outback steakhouse announced a partnership with third-party delivery service DoorDash at about 700 of its locations nationwide to expand its delivery platform and drive sales. The partnership will also expand to other Bloomin’ Brands restaurants including Carrabba’s Italian Grill and Bonefish Grill.
And other restaurants like Panera, Starbucks and Chic-fil-A have been using automated kiosks and mobile ordering to reduce long lines and speed up the ordering process.