From innovators to laggards, industry titans to mom & pop shops, just about every single restaurant in America had to rethink business as usual when the COVID-19 pandemic began. Though restaurant doors have long since reopened to dine-in customers, the struggle to stay ahead of the competition and meet rising demand for takeout, curbside, and delivery services continues.

​Webinar Recap: Use Visual Data To Capitalize on Surging Demand

Plainsight explored line abandonment analysis and several additional restaurant industry use cases in a recent webinar, New Drive-Thru Intelligence: Analytics for Restaurants. Check out a recording of the event below to learn more about how quick-service and fast casual restaurants are already leveraging vision AI to: 

  • Accelerate drive-thru efficiency and performance
  • Optimize and personalize the customer experience
  • Inform high-performance kitchens and crews

Restaurants and the Pandemic Era 

Throughout 2019, Minneapolis and several dozen additional cities across both the U.S. and Canada banned the construction of new drive-thrus. The Counter’s Rebecca Tucker suggests that rising awareness of environmental issues and evolving definitions of healthy living may have inspired this legislation. 

By March of the following year, however, it was clear that anti-drive-thru measures would not mature into a nationwide trend. The COVID-19 pandemic forced businesses to cease most in-person operations and fueled a surge in demand for drive-thru dining and other takeout options. Drive-thrus saw a 43% jump in traffic during the first six months of the pandemic alone. 

Even as infection risks have waned and social distancing measures have expired, diners remain hungry for the speed, convenience, and safety of off-premises dining. The experts, including SeeLevel HX’s CEO, Lisa Van Kesteren, expect the appetite for takeout options is here to stay. 

“I don’t think [demand] will go down to previous levels,” Van Kesteren says in a conversation with CNBC, adding, “people are just used to doing things differently now.” 

SeeLevel HX reports from the last two years not only show that demand is surging, but that organizations are struggling to manage these surges. Since the start of the pandemic

  • Wait times have increased by nearly 60 seconds for drive-thru customers. 
  • Incorrect orders have increased, making up 15% of all orders.

For restaurants attempting to contend with staffing shortages and stiff competition, a few seconds of wait time or a few minor errors in fulfilling orders can have serious consequences. 

Video Analytics for Line Abandonment Insights

Plainsight’s vision AI platform empowers restaurants to derive insights from their video feeds to improve the customer experience with proactive, strategic measures. 

  • Wait Time Analysis: Minimize wait times with location and time-specific data. 
  • Line Volume Management: Generate insights to better understand high-volume periods and deploy automated insights to set customer expectations and support kitchen staff.
  • Line Abandonment Analytics: With Plainsight’s video analytics, restaurants can gain insights into when and why customers abandon the drive-thru as well as the steps they can take to reduce line abandonment across locations. 

    Plainsight’s object detection, counting, and dwell time tracking capabilities applies to a drive-thru video feed. 

    Plainsight makes it faster and easier to build and deploy object detection and tracking models like the one shown above. This not only enables businesses to gather data about the time their customers spend in line, but also potentially collect insights on repeat customers to offer personalized orders or additional loyalty perks.

    Computer Vision for Restaurants

    Vision AI models improve the customer experience for drive-thru, curbside, and dine-in customers alike by providing for informed service, real-time order inspection, and efficient, accurate kitchens. Learn more about vision AI for the restaurant industry and schedule a free demo with Plainsight’s experts today.

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