The days are not far when your favourite restaurant might stop giving menus and instead give you Augmented Reality displays of dishes instead.
Everytime I go to a fancy new restaurant, I am skeptical of ordering a new dish. You know why? Most often, the names of the dishes and their description itself sound strange to me. But, then the foodie in me takes over the decision-making and places and order against all odds. Must say that I have been lucky so far not to have undergone any nightmarish experiences with food. All the food that I have ordered reading the menu and the sophisticated descriptions therein have proven to be good.
Turns out there is a new technology in town that is going to make lives easier and better for foodies like me. It is called Augmented Reality (AR). AR is touted to bring about a radical change to the restaurant industry. And it will begin with restaurant menus.
Not a while ago, while I was at a restaurant that serves arguably one among the world’s best burgers. There were a couple of foreigners who were seated diagonally opposite to me. While I had already placed my order like its a habit, they were still going to cover of the menu wondering where to begin. Turns out understanding local cuisines from local menus is a serious problem for all, including foreign travellers.
That is one among the many problems of the restaurant industry that Augmented reality can solve. It creates 3D versions of menu items that will help anyone see dishes in hyper-realistic forms. Just like how we use Snapchat. Users can point their smartphone camera at a menu item or sticker to see its graphical projection on the screen.
Bareburger uses Snapchat AR to put a burger on your screen before putting it on your table
In fact, Bareburger of NYC has also already started running pivot projects of the same style. Bareburger is leveraging Snapchat’s Lens Studio to offer their customers interactive AR images of food items. The restaurant chain has an AR filter that customers can use to visualize food items, portion sizes and even ingredients before placing the order.
In other words, you will have the burger on your screen, before it comes to your table. And you know for sure what you have ordered, what are its ingredients and the exact portion size.
Watch this video to know how Bareburger uses Snapchat AR to put a burger on your screen before putting it on your table.
You read that right! Despite knowing most of the pizza menus by heart, I am someone who is forever lost in making a quick choice. I love whatever the popular pizza chains have on offer. But, there are times when I wished I had the liberty to cook up my own pizza with a selective choice of my own ingredients.
Domino’s — the global chain of pizza seems to have heard mine and billion other customers’ wish. Domino;s launched their own AR-based app called the “New Pizza Chef” that allows users to “create their ultimate, favourite pizzas.”
“Users will be able to visually create their favourite pizza by dragging toppings onto a virtual pizza, selecting their preferred crust, sauce, cheese and swirls and see it being created first-hand.” said Allan Collins, the Chief Marketing Officer of Domino’s Group in a press release.
The app uses Google’s ARCore and Apple’s ARKit to create stable images of pizzas that customers can create on their own. Augmented Reality apps like these will help restaurants to serve customers with an enriched food ordering and savouring experience that will win their loyalty.
See the Domino’s New Pizza Chef app in action in the video below. From selecting the crust to adding toppings and winning some surprises along the way, this is the beginning of a new way of pizza ordering.
Starbucks has been growing steadily in the Southeast market. Shanghai is one store where the brand wanted to try something different to make a mark. They did it right with an Augmented Reality app that is designed to turn casual visitors into active store explorers.
Starbucks’ Augmented Reality for the sprawling Shanghai Roastery allows users to scan any section of the store and explore in an interactive fashion what that part does, how coffee beans are stored, how long before they become ready for brewing before they are ultimately served.
The AR app also implements gamification by giving users a rewards point that can even be shared on social handles.
For people like me, food is not just a necessity, it is a way of life. An experience surrounding which every other life activity is performed. That said, restaurants are like havens for gastronomic experiences. More than the food, it is the experience of ordering food that counts the most. It is also the biggest factor that influences millennial customers choose one restaurant chain over another.
When it comes to the future of restaurant experiences, Augmented Reality will be a differentiator. To quote Bobby Murphy, the CTO of Snapchat, “If you think about the distant future of AR in which you can, on whatever device, look out into the world and everything comes alive in some sort of meaningful, or useful, or valuable way, for that world to exist.”
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Bareburger , Starbucks and several other restaurant chains were able to benefit from the use of Augmented Reality in their everyday operations. The benefits can be identified as:
Restaurants are consciously trying to re-engage with the customers who have visited them once. With tightening competition, getting the attention of customers is easily said than done. Augmented Reality in restaurants will help deliver a ‘Wow’ factor that will win customers attention making them revisit the restaurant in the future.
If delivering engaging customer experience is a mammoth challenge in brick and mortar restaurants, it is even tougher in the mobile app environment. The user's attention while using mobile apps spans only few seconds. This is even fickle when they are ordering food for delivery.
Augmented Reality has proven to be a solid way of ensuring that customers stay tuned to the app and also order more than their usual takeouts. Interactive menus, visual menu information, nutritional information, best accompanied with suggestions, etc. are some ways how AR can increase the average order value for online food delivery.
The millennial generation of customers are infamous for their fickle customer loyalty. Unlike the previous generation of customers who used to stick to brands for a lifetime, modern-day customers switch loyalty with a new offer, a new entrant or for better convenience.
In such precarious market conditions, restaurants can ensure that their customers remain loyal to them with AR-based loyalty systems. Restaurants can use AR to create gamification systems that allow users to unlock points, new dishes, reward points and much more.
Augmented Reality is blurring the gap between physical and digital worlds. It is all set to gain entry and establish a presence in the restaurant space where gastronomic experiences rule the day. Augmented reality app development will give the food industry a 3D upheaval that might put an end to the days of printed menu orders. In short, in the days to come, AR will ensure that customers can see their food virtually before ordering it.
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