The foodservice industry is making big strides in adapting to technology, but still has a ways to go before it is a leading-edge player, new research from the National Restaurant Association (NRA) finds.
In its new report, “Mapping the Restaurant Technology Landscape,” the NRA discovered that one-third of operators consider their businesses lagging in technology.
“Restaurants in some ways are quite tech-savvy when it comes to implementing customer-facing tools, like websites and guest Wi-Fi, but are less so in other areas, such as online reservations and ordering, tabletop devices, touchscreen kiosks, mobile payment and smartphone apps,” says Annika Stensson, the NRA’s director of research communications.
In the report, operators cited cost, lack of infrastructure and staff training as some of the reasons why technology has been a bit slow to catch on.
Here’s a snapshot of four key areas for restaurant technology use:
  • Guest Wi-Fi: 71 percent of fullservice and 64 percent of limited-service restaurants offer Wi-Fi to their guests.
  • Touch-screen kiosks: 42 percent of limited-service operators offer touch-screen ordering kiosks.
  • Online ordering: 25 percent of fullservice restaurants say they offer online ordering. Forty-nine percent of limited-service restaurants say they offer it to their customers.
  • Mobile payment: 49 percent of limited-service restaurants offer mobile-payment options, compared with just 15 percent of fullservice restaurants. This allows customers to pay via a mobile device, such as smartphone or tablet, instead of cash, check or credit cards.


Foodservice operators have high hopes for using future technology in their businesses. Of those surveyed by the NRA, here are some of the technologies they would implement if available:

  • Predictive ordering - 53%
  • Automatic menu-price adjustment based on demand - 36%
  • Drone food delivery off-premises - 16%
  • Automatic food preparation system - 13%
  • Automated onsite drink or food delivery - 9%