The Menu – the latest insights on restaurant technology trends, customer successes, and best practices.

Voice-activated ordering: Should you be getting your restaurant POS system ready?

Tim Brown
Vice President, Global Sales Consulting, Oracle Food and Beverage

Restaurateurs constantly need to be adapting to significant technology developments – or risk being left behind.

Consumers expect you to stay up to date, and voice-activated ordering – whether from home, in store or in a drive through – is quickly emerging as a viable choice. Similar to the adoption of mobile app ordering, voice activation could become the norm in many businesses. More than a third of millennials have already ordered through a voice-activation device such as Alexa or Google Home1.

What are the challenges of voice-activated ordering for restaurants?

1. Variation of menu items

Although many of us are already using voice for basic web searches (“Alexa, what is today’s weather?”), ordering from a restaurant presents a host of new challenges that technology must address.

Simply ordering a Margherita Pizza is one thing, but ordering a stuffed crust, half pepperoni/half pineapple pie with extra jalapeños and BBQ sauce is entirely another. It means that a whole new range of prompts and responses must be created to ensure the order is placed correctly.

Other potential challenges could include addressing the array of allergies many consumers face and ensuring that orders are handled safely. Restaurants will need to provide prompts, making customers aware of ingredients that typically are highlighted on a physical menu.

  1. Languages and accents

Voice-activated devices are notorious for misinterpreting dialects and accents. International chains especially need to be aware of and address this issue. It’s essential that when using voice activation, they provide the same level of service across their customer base.

  1. Generation gap

Although voice activation is growing in popularity among young people, it’s not resonating yet with older demographics. Just 11% of baby boomers (55+) have used a voice-activation device for ordering a meal2. Enticing this generation to jump on board could prove tricky. New research from Oracle Food and Beverage shows that more than 50% of people still choose to call and order over the phone3.

Third-party delivery companies have changed the way consumers order food, but will voice-activated devices do the same? It’s quite possible, and for restaurateurs who want to be part of such change, they’ll need to take additional steps. You will need a restaurant POS system that will take an order and flow it directly into your kitchen display system to start production. You will need to test, test and test again to ensure that embracing new technology doesn’t come at the expense of customer experience.

Remember, if customers receive the wrong order they will blame you and not Alexa!

Oracle MICROS Simphony delivers the ability to adapt to developing trends with its fully integrated restaurant POS solutions. Speak with an expert today to ensure you are ready for any changes that may come your way, and don’t forget to subscribe to our blog for the latest restaurant technology news!

References: 2019 Oracle Food and Beverage market research.

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