From kiosks to mobile ordering, restaurant companies have been pulling out all the stops to make buying food easier for consumers. But these innovations have not come without growing pains.
Early in the year, Starbucks reported that mobile order and pay transactions had spiked in its U.S. stores, with 1,200 of its stores experiencing a 20 percent jump in mobile pay and ordering during peak hours.
However, the increased sales volume actually hurt the company's same-store sales growth, as congestion at the hand-off counter caused incoming customers to leave without making a purchase.
This bottlenecking was a warning sign to Starbucks' competitors.
In creating McDonald's digital ordering platform, CEO Steve Easterbrook said the burger giant had to be "mindful" of the demands that come with mobile ordering and create a platform that suited the needs of both its customers and the kitchen.
McDonald's hoped to add delivery to 5,000 U.S. restaurants by the end of this year.
No company has done this better than Domino's, which has been at the forefront of digital ordering for the last few years. The pizza chain continues to dominate the industry, often operating more like a tech company than a restaurant company.
The brand learned early on that mobile and digital orders not only offer customers an easier way to pay, but their average check is higher than those generated from in-store orders.
Going forward, expect to see more innovation in technology in the restaurant space. Fast-food chains and fast-casual chains, in particular, have already begun to utilize kiosks to speed up ordering and decrease the number of staff mistakes.
These innovations "replace a manual, flawed process," said Jeremy Goodman, head of North American sales for SimpleOrder, a restaurant inventory management software company.
While Panera was at the forefront of adding digital kiosks, other brands have begun to adopt this practice, including Shake Shack, McDonald's and Subway.