New recipes for customer experiences

Today’s customers are increasingly looking for food that is good for them, the planet and the workforce. They are aware of the ingredients in their food and the sustainability of products used, and they care more about fair wages and schedules for the people serving the food. To remain relevant in this new era of responsibility, restaurants need to stay true to their purpose while delivering value to their customers, workforce, partners and investors, and our planet.

And while change is afoot, some things have stayed the same. People still want their food quickly, but more than ever they want it conveniently too. Restaurant digital orders have grown 23 percent annually (on average) since 2013 and will triple in volume by the end of 2020. Six out of 10 of these orders are placed on mobile apps.

In recent years, all types of restaurants, from casual dining to fast food, have worked hard to innovate to keep pace with changing dietary preferences and the ways customers are eating—but there is more to do.

Technology offers an edge


of restaurant operators believe robot cleaning would be mainstream or in mass adoption by 2025.

Pursuing growth opportunities

The digital age presents a menu of choices for restaurants to pursue new growth opportunities, while strengthening their core business of making satisfying food for hungry customers.

Automation. Augmenting the work of humans in restaurants can save costs and open opportunities to add value to the customer experience. In the kitchen, automation can reduce costs and get food to hungry customers faster. Technology can also help employees to be safer when they are at work.

Operational improvements. Food service operators can do more with data. For instance, analyzing data from loyalty programs and apps to understand what items customers want, when they want it, why they want it and what offers would garner the strongest response. Restaurants can implement artificial intelligence and machine learning technology in kitchens to reduce waste and save money, but also to ensure consistency, quality and safety.

Next-generation staffing. Restaurants can plan for the future through better workforce management. People need to be reskilled and retrained to work alongside technology, using innovative tools to process orders, manage inventory and more. Smart staffing will allow restaurants to meet their labor needs and optimize the schedule while adhering to labor laws.

Connect with customers. To keep customers coming back and build loyalty, you need to truly understand them and tailor offerings and experiences to their tastes, desires and preferences. Taking a stance on the environment, reducing waste and using sustainable ingredients will resonate with certain customer segments.

Leaders will make bold moves to shape the restaurant of the future.

Turn the table

Restaurants can begin to start embracing the opportunity for change by:

  • Fervently innovating. Innovation is no longer optional; it must become part of a restaurant’s DNA. For instance, adopting an experimentation mindset and agile operating models that can support testing new ideas, failing fast and moving on—or adopting the winning concepts.
  • Rethinking big bets. Every dollar can make a difference in the customer experience. However, right now, restaurants are over indexing on investing in innovation inside restaurants. It’s time to think differently about where investments will move the needle most—delivery services, rapid menu innovation, personalization and automation.
  • Supersizing relationships. Now that restaurants need to rely on others more than ever to bring technology, delivery and other in-demand capabilities, the ecosystem is critical. Restaurants should be reimagining ecosystem partnerships to drive cooperation rather than competition.

The status quo has been reset and the race is on to create the restaurant of the future. Act now before the opportunity gets cold.

About the Authors

Elizabeth Marrion

Managing Director & Global Retail Cloud Lead

Robert Raidt

Managing Director

Matt Jeffers

Managing Director – Retail Strategy

Jen Pritchard

Managing Director

Maureen Bossi

Accenture Research Retail I&D Lead

Jay Amburkar

Retail Innovation Lead, Southeast


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