Voice Ordering for Restaurants: An Emerging Opportunity for Operators

The Next Evolution of Online Ordering Is Here, Is Your Restaurant Ready?

If you are reading this, you may remember a time when cell phones were used to make calls and the only options for home food delivery were pizza or pizza. Fast-forward to today, smartphones have revolutionized the way we communicate with one another as well as restaurants. You can have anything from an iced coffee to a three-course meal delivered to your doorstep, and this is only the beginning. The restaurant industry is poised for disruption as the next wave of online ordering technology—voice ordering—becomes the new standard.

The Rise of Voice Search and Voice Assistants

Google introduced voice search back in 2012, however, adoption of this technology has ramped up in recent years with the introduction of “smart speakers,” like the Amazon Echo and Google Home, and voice assistants, including Alexa and Siri. Today, there are an estimated one billion voice searches every month, and that number keeps growing. In fact, projections show 50% of all searches will be voice based by 2020.

Voice search presents a big opportunity for restaurants to land within consumers’ considerations sets as they explore local results. A recent survey found 80% of respondents use voice search to find restaurants, and about one in four of those people visit the restaurants that come up in searches. Of course, local SEO plays a huge part in landing in those search results, making it an even bigger priority for operators moving into 2019 and beyond.

For tech-savvy consumers, ordering food via voice-activated chatbots may become the standard in the not-so-distant future. Orderscape reports 56% of users would be interested in ordering food from restaurants using voice-activated device, with 34% having already placed an order via a voice assistant.

How Restaurants Are Using Voice Ordering

Major chains, including Domino’s, Denny’s and Starbucks, have already carved their place in the voice ordering revolution. From in-app voice-activated ordering, to complete integration with Alexa, Google Assistant, Cortana and other voice assistants, these restaurants are making it easier than ever for customers to order their favorites. While most voice-activated orders require a guest profile be created before an order can be placed, once registration is complete, a customer’s favorite pizza can be on its way with a quick, “Alexa, order my usual.”

Allowing customers to place orders, receive menu recommendations, apply coupons and pay without the need to touch a screen, these future-forward brands provide guests with a conversational food ordering experience. “Today’s consumer demands convenience, customization, and the ease of ordering through the latest technology,” shares Meghan Strongrich, marketing director at CFL Pizza, LLC. “At Pizza Hut, we believe in serving our customers how they want to be served, no exceptions. Voice ordering offers just another convenient way for consumers to order their favorite pizza in a way that is simple, fast, and reliable.”

Although a few major players have begun offering voice ordering, the technology has yet to see widespread implementation. This is a key opportunity for operators looking to stay at the forefront of innovation to be one of the pioneers of this integration. Fortunately, a multi-billion dollar tech campus is not a requirement to implement these advanced ordering features.

Bringing Voice Ordering Technology to Your Restaurant

As with any emerging technology, making voice ordering available to your restaurant’s customers may require an upfront investment of time and resources. While developing a custom AI application to handle voice, online and mobile orders may be an option for some operators, this would come at a sizable cost. For many operators, leveraging an existing ordering platform may be a more affordable yet equally effective option.

Platforms like Conversable and Orderscape aim to help restaurants make the most of the opportunities presented by voice ordering. These AI-powered services deliver powerful language processing skills and voice-activated chatbots to create a seamless food ordering experience across mobile or smart speaker devices.

A recent partnership between Orderscape and LevelUp, a mobile ordering platform adopted by tens of thousands of restaurants, makes voice ordering integration even more accessible for those already on the LevelUp network.

Key Takeaways for Restaurant Operators

Adopting new technology calls for a complete understanding of its advantages and implications, which can only be reached through in-depth research and exploration. However, that process can lead to information overload.

As you dive deeper into the world of voice ordering, restaurant technology and AI, here is a top-level overview of what you need to know.

  • The growing popularity of voice search is not a passing fad—it’s poised to change the way we interact with search engines, businesses and even restaurants.
  • Still in its early stages of adoption, voice ordering technology has already been implemented by a few major food service chains. However, operators of smaller chains or individual locations still have an opportunity to jump in at the forefront of the next evolution of online ordering.
  • AI-powered third-party platforms are making voice ordering accessible and affordable for operators wanting to implement this technology.

“Businesses only have the potential to grow by capitalizing on the voice ordering revolution and customers benefit from an awesome ordering experience,” shares Carly Laskey, account supervisor and category captain for the restaurants industry at evok. “It’s a win-win.”

Want a full-spectrum look at the current quick-service and fast casual restaurant industries? We’ve covered this and other timely topics in our latest State of the Industry: QSR and Fast Casual report. Download it today for our findings and insights on what’s next in the restaurant industry.

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