Autonomous delivery and ordering through virtual assistants are two emerging technology trends on the horizon for franchise brands.
In a digital world, staying on top of rising technological trends can be essential for brands to remain relevant. However, at the rate that new inventions emerge, it can sometimes be overwhelming trying to keep track of all the latest developments.
Being an early adopter of new technology is a risk that can come with a huge payoff for brands, because it offers them a great opportunity for publicity and creating buzz around their product or service.
1851 connected with Lonnie Helgerson of the Helgerson Franchise Group to get the scoop on what technology trends are expected to take root in the franchise industry.
Third-Party Autonomous Delivery
As consumer demand for off-premise dining options continues to grow, brands are working to offer more options in line with this preference. Helgerson noted that many franchised food brands have found success through the use of Uber Eats and other manned delivery options, but others are seeking out more innovate routes.
“Autonomous vehicles are already starting to make a direct impact in restaurant and retail delivery. I expect it to impact franchising–and our sidewalks–nationwide very quickly in the next few years,” he said.
Brands looking to stay on the cutting edge may wish to experiment with this option sooner rather than later.
Electronic Ordering via Virtual Assistants & AI
Virtual assistants such as Amazon’s Alexa and Google Home have built up a strong momentum across the nation. Franchise brands have taken notice of the popularity and are actively integrating artificial intelligence into their own businesses.
“It’s all about developing AI that will bring a better experience for the customer, both at home and in the store/restaurant,” said Helgerson. “Expect to see more and more interactive AI kiosks or robots in stores and restaurants soon doing everything from mundane tasks such as cleaning, taking orders and delivering drinks to guests.”
Inventory Management Systems
In some cases, technology may even replace existing practices in order to create more streamlined, back-end operations for companies. One current example of this trend that Helgerson noted was the process of inventory management.
“Bluetooth and other tech will allow restaurant owners to have a real-time inventory count that is both laser accurate and comes with other cool features, such as current product temperature, shelf life, etc.,” he said.
This will save them time and headaches as the possibility for human error is eliminated.
When to Adopt New Technology
It is important to stay on top the trends as they happen in order to remain competitive within one’s respective industry. Awareness does not necessarily mean adoption, as Helgerson recommends that a business owner assess the economic impact of the technology before taking the plunge.
“They need to do the math and determine their savings versus the cost and see when the ROI comes,” he said. “As I always tell franchisees and franchisors – if you think staying relevant is expensive, try the cost of irrelevance on for size!”