Washington Restaurant Market Watch: Smartwatch ordering coming soon to a restaurant near you

Washington Restaurant Market Watch: Smartwatch ordering coming soon to a restaurant near you https://wahospitality.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/applepay1-630x198.jpg

By Paul Schlienz

Like never before, restaurants are scrambling to add technology that allows easier customer interface. Members of the Millennial generation expect it, and restaurant operators view it as a way to increase efficiency and improve service.

The latest innovation? Smartwatch ordering.

Starting this week, Domino’s Pizza customers can order directly from their Android Wear and Pebble smartwatches. Additionally, they can track orders on Android watches, something Pebble users have been able to do since late 2014.

“Pairing Domino’s with smartwatch technology couldn’t be more of a natural fit,” Kevin Vasconi, Domino’s chief information officer stated in an official release. “We are constantly looking for ways to use technology to enhance our customers’ experience and provide them with more convenience. We pride ourselves on having a variety of online ordering options for customers to choose from.”

When it comes to smartwatches, although the technology is in its infancy, restaurant operators are watching it carefully. Indeed, its potential appears to be limitless.

Worldwide sales of this technology is expected to increase from 15 million, in 2015, to 373 million by 2020, according to NextMarket Insights, a Seattle-based research firm. This increase constitutes more than a third of the entire watch industry.

Indications are that pizza chains will be the restaurant industry’s vanguard in utilizing this technology. Currently, more than half of all orders received by Domino’s and Papa Johns are already placed digitally through channels like websites and mobile apps. To no one’s surprise, this percentage is rapidly growing.

Nevertheless, pizza chains are not the only restaurants that have noticed the potential.

Panera Bread is hard at work developing a WatchKit application to allow Apple Watch users to pay from their wrists. Of course, Panera Bread was also an early partner with Apple Pay via the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, in 2014, so it shouldn’t surprise anyone that Panera has now turned its attention to Apple Watch.

“[Smartwatches] could be one of the next boom areas of development and a big opportunity for restaurants to jump on,” Aaron Allen, global restaurant consultant with Aaron Allen & Associates, told CNBC. “One thing you can never do too much of in business in general is to make it too easy to buy from you.”

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