The Future of the Foodservice Industry: Technology or Quality Driven

Choosing the right technology partner is vital in creating a unique restaurant loyalty program aligned with your brand that is not a cookie-cutter version of your competitors.


Ned Shugrue

4 Min Read

October 13, 2023

The Foodservice Technology Conference (FSTEC) 2023 wrapped up a few weeks ago in Dallas, and it lived up to the conference’s theme of ‘the restaurant industry and technology converge.’ Countless sessions by industry leaders shared insights and innovative strategies for using technology to drive business growth, providing value to customers, and transforming the customer experience. 


In July, Capillary shared some trends driving growth in the loyalty industry. These ever-evolving dining trends use new technology to create an innovative, data-driven, digital-first customer experience (CX) ecosystem. These recent trends drive repeat purchases with the ability to alter customer behaviors while still delivering value to the customer. 


Here are some of Capillary’s key takeaways from FSTEC 2023:


Everyone’s talking about loyalty, but everyone isn’t convinced loyalty works.


Several brands attending the conference spoke about their loyalty programs, but many did not believe their programs were effective. A prevailing theme in the restaurant industry is that their programs are not standing out — “punch card” programs are the most common industry standard, but this system doesn’t seem to move the needle.


Why have these programs become so commonplace? Many brands selected full-stack restaurant marketing/technology solutions with built-in restaurant-oriented loyalty modules.

Indeed, these generic loyalty programs may not be effective. The answer is to build a loyalty solution unique to your brand! McDonald’s, Starbucks, and Dunkin’ prove that loyalty works in this industry.


The secret is creating a custom-tailored loyalty program designed to enhance your customer experience (CX), is unique to your brand, allows for rich personalization and flexibility, and improves operations.


Every restaurant business is a technology business.


Technology is everywhere in the restaurant business today. Since much of that technology is now dated, many brands are exploring new technologies to help them improve their operations, margins, and customer experience.


Of course, the hot topics are generative AI and tools like ChatGPT. Restaurant brands are deciding the best way that AI can help them streamline and automate back-of-house operations, improve marketing and customer engagement, handle customer service, and optimize and automate their business operations. Exciting times ahead!


Fast-casual concepts are booming: customers love quality.


As a consumer, it doesn’t surprise me that customers consistently choose quality, interesting, fast-casual concepts over brands that specialize in making food fast and cheap. We live in a “golden age” of unique, high-quality, fast-casual concepts, and many brands are scaling quickly. The winning brands are building modern technology stacks with high-utility apps and websites to power mobile ordering, loyalty, etc. They also use technology to create highly engaging experiences, power marketing journeys, and automate offers and content. But at the end of the day, doing these things helps these brands optimize their businesses. 


FSTEC 2023 proved what Capillary has been saying: new technology plays (and will continue to play) a critical role in success in all industries, but especially in food service and restaurants. Choosing the right technology partner is vital in creating a unique restaurant loyalty program aligned with your brand and that is not a cookie-cutter version of your competitors.


Connect with me or one of Capillary’s F&B loyalty experts to learn how we can help your business today!

Aauthor Name

Ned Shugrue

Ned has supported loyalty efforts for brands across a wide variety of industries since 2014, with expertise in both strategy consulting and program design and loyalty technology selection and implementation. Prior to joining Capillary, Ned led sales and partnerships at PK and ICF Next, both Forrester-assessed “Leaders” in the loyalty space.

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