Voice Ordering, The Next Innovation for Restaurants

Voice Recognition Technology Goes Way Back

The exponential growth curve that technology has seen in recent years can be illustrated by looking at the history of voice-activated devices. Bell Labs created the Audrey system in 1952. This device could only respond to ten digits when spoken by a single voice. The next step in the evolution of the technology came a decade later, in 1962, when IBM built a machine that responded to 16 words of the English language, as well as 6 arithmetic functions that it could perform on 10 digits. 

There have been advancements along the way but the synergies recently achieved through speed recognition reaching over 95% accuracy through the use of artificial intelligence technology have seen the voice space achieve massive innovation. From voice-to-text functionality on mobile phones to the concept of the internet of things (IoT) - most notably the exponential rise of smart speaker adoption, voice technology is showing that it's more than a fad and that it will become a mainstay in the months and years to come.

What is Voice Commerce?

Voice commerce relates to the facilitation of transactions such as purchasing through the use of voice commands via mobile devices or smart speakers. It is the natural next step after voice-activated devices appeared and were put to use in conjunction with internet-related tasks. Conducting search engine queries was the first such use-case that appeared in the early 2000s. Shortly after, large retailers and internet service companies realized the potential of expanding the use of voice technology to electronic commerce.

Are Restaurants Adopting Voice Ordering Technology?

Several of the larger restaurant chains in the country have already started utilizing ordering technology that involves patrons using self-ordering systems with screens. This is introducing the concept to restaurant-goers and valuable insights are being obtained. However, there are other restaurants that have already ventured into voice food ordering and are working out the bugs. None of the players claim to have perfected it yet, but experts agree that adoption of voice-enabled food ordering will pick up over the coming months as companies race to take advantage of its advantages.

What Are the Benefits of Voice Ordering Technology for Restaurants?

Although the implementation of voice technology in the restaurant industry comes with some perceived disadvantages, the benefits that companies stand to gain far outweigh any such biases. Voice technology removes the human factor from the restaurant experience and some may claim that this is to the detriment of the industry and to the experience of dining out. Having said that, let's look at 5 major benefits of implementing voice technology for restaurants.

1. New Channels = Increased Profits

Just as with automated chat support that you find on websites, voice-driven ordering uses artificial intelligence to deliver patrons virtual assistant functionality in a natural and frictionless way. Today, voice assistants have transcended almost every facet of our daily lives (home, car, workplace, and mobile). This trend, coupled with the advancement of voice commerce platforms have created new and emerging sales channels which increase the “surface of purchase” for next generation consumers. Restaurants who gain first-mover advantage in this space have the opportunity to increase brand awareness, save on operational costs through automation, and ultimately drive more revenue.

2. Evolving On Premise Ordering

A Harvard Business Review study showed that self-service kiosks and restaurants that had implemented ordering at the table through the use of a tablet had increased revenue significantly in all cases. Patrons were ordering more items and the ability of the establishment to serve more people had gone up. The integration of voice-first capabilities to these existing self-service technologies will only perpetuate the increased revenue by reducing the learning curve associated with touch-only user interactions; widening adoption to existing restaurant patrons.

3. Personalized Service for Customers

Voice-enabled ordering gives restaurant owners the ability to personalize their customers' service. It was mentioned earlier that taking away the human element from ordering may be viewed as a negative. However, personalized treatment of customers in the conventional operation of a restaurant comes at the expense of speed and efficiency. The use of a voice-based system ensures patrons will be served in a timely manner. A voice-powered platform that uses artificial intelligence can offer suggestions to customers based on previous visits to the establishment and some systems go as far as implementing facial recognition technology. 

4. Gain Valuable Insights

Voice-driven ordering not only provides helpful information and convenience for the customer by capturing their preferences but can also give the restaurant owner valuable analytics in growing their business and increasing revenue. The behaviors of individual customers can be aggregated into meaningful groups of data that show overarching trends. In the Harvard Business Review study, self-service kiosk patrons were more likely to order dessert than in a conventional restaurant setting. Small behaviors like this can make a big difference when backed by actual data.

Moving Forward

The voice commerce wave is changing many industries in a rapid manner. Everything from speakers to payment systems are incorporating the synergies that voice technology provides. E-commerce corporations are already using it and technology giants are tying their services in with voice-based capability. For some of these big players, it may be a matter of being able to retain a competitive advantage or be reduced to late-movers.