How many times have you heard the phrase “the new normal” in the past 12 months? The word “normal” almost has a feel of going back — back to the good old days — but could it also be seen as going backward? One thing that the past year-plus has taught us is that there’s only forward. Advance, grow and overcome.
I know we are all ready for a few things to no longer be considered normal. Like kids having to wave at each other after a sporting event rather than slapping hands and saying good game, discussing ketchup package shortages, having to ask “You’re vaccinated, right?” when seeing a friend, and maybe most of all having to see the lines of masks drying on the clothes rack after doing laundry.
But hold on. Not all of the new norms are bad.
If good can come from a pandemic, it’s the way that people can evolve, behave differently, adopt new habits and adjust to move forward. Nowhere is this more evident than in the area of technology. Like you, I have read numerous articles regarding “disrupting technology,” and I challenge the accuracy of that description.
Yes, disruptive in that people did have to change and adopt behavior that before would have been considered abnormal. But rather than disruption, could we also look at the changes in how we shop, dine, travel and engage as advancement?
The world we live in has accelerated the adoption of various technologies to achieve in an environment where space and touchless technology have become priorities. What has accelerated are opportunities that increase convenience, and if we are nothing else, we are people who want things as convenient as possible.
Online and tableside ordering. Grocery delivery. Touchless transactions. Contactless pickup. Digital drive-thru menu boards. Convenience.
The technology that we have come to rely upon isn’t necessarily new. Its importance has grown immensely. Many restaurants and retail businesses were buoyed by technology during the pandemic. Technologies in various industries were seen as nice-to-haves but are now must-haves. That will not change. The past year will forever change the way people engage with brands and how they shop.
Why? It’s easier and more convenient. Consumer choice takes into consideration many criteria. In the equation for product selection, today is how convenient the company’s mobile app is to shop and buy, or the ease and enjoyment of the digital shopping, payment and delivery experience.
It’s also good for business. Many industries have adopted the technology that will become catalysts for brand and sales growth as we come into a new environment. People are returning to in-person dining and shopping, and digital technology will complement the traditional ways of generating revenue and growth.
Statistics show that average ticket prices are higher for digital restaurant orders compared to in-person dining. Sales increase with appealing images that businesses can display on digital menu boards. The importance of commercial-grade Wi-Fi has increased significantly with so many technology systems requiring access through the web. Technology provides the convenience customers demand and the efficiencies businesses need to protect margins in a volatile environment.
Here in Arkansas, these advancements in technology are evident. Our corporate community is unique in that it ranges from the largest company on the planet to independent operators and everything in between. Regardless of size, the investment in technology is a must. The next time you visit a Slim Chickens or a Tacos 4 Life, look around. Whether it’s digital displays and digital menu boards, the new age point-of-sale systems, or the commercial-grade Wi-Fi that is the foundation for so much of that environment to operate, the impact of technology is undeniable. This reliance will not go backward.
Advance, grow and overcome.
Editor’s note: Andrew Faulkner is the owner and CEO of Staley Technologies in Little Rock. He can be reached at [email protected]. The opinions expressed are those of the author.