5 WAYS RESTAURANTS CAN THRIVE DURING COVID (AND AFTERWARDS) BY USING AUGMENTED REALITY

BY TODD RAMSEIER

From finicky customers to constantly evolving fads, restaurants must always adapt fast to succeed. Finding new ways to draw in customers, keeping them and your staff safe, and turning a profit have all faced new challenges in 2020, especially due to Covid-19. Finding something that’s more than just a trend might be the difference between success and failure for many restaurants.

This is where Augmented Reality comes in. What is Augmented Reality? Often referred to as AR, it’s a digital overlay on the real world. AR could involve something as simple as scanning a special image or QR code with your phone (a task most of us are familiar with) and seeing a digital image or text, or as complex as seeing strange creatures living in your world, much like Pokemon Go. And while it’s generally frowned upon to let critters roam free around your restaurant, the technology that makes it possible might be one of the tools you need to succeed. (Caution: AR does not, of course, attract critters, but may attract the youthful generation that loves playing the game, driving up your sales!)

How will Augmented Reality help your business? Let’s look at five common struggles for restaurants, especially in 2020, and how AR might be the answer you seek.

1. AR can help manage labor costs.

One of the joys of being a business owner is providing stable jobs for others, but offsetting that against the company’s revenue is always a careful balance. Due to Covid, a number of restaurants are going through financial trouble and the costs of hiring and training new wait staff for an often limited dining experience (outdoor only, etc.) can be burdensome. This is a significant piece of feedback we hear from owners time and time again.

If you implement Augmented Reality correctly, however, you can smooth out the front of house operations, freeing up labor costs almost immediately. How? Customers can check into the restaurant, view the menu, and pay from their phone, all using AR. That’s a lot of pressure off your hosts/hostesses. Want to take it a step further? You can even allow customers to order straight from their digital devices!

There’s no true replacement for well-trained front of house associates. However, you can take a lot of pressure off them, saving labor, and creating an amazing experience for everyone involved. This means more freedom to manage your labor costs efficiently.

2. AR can provide added safety.

It’s no secret that 2020 brought new challenges no one saw coming. The global pandemic has made being out in public a challenge and dining at restaurants moreso. But let’s look at some of the features above and how they can also help keep everyone safer.

Allowing customers to check-in digitally through an Augmented Reality experience triggered by their phone’s camera means less face-to-face interaction up front, and no little vibrating gizmos being handed from person to person. Your host/hostess can be the recommended 6 feet away, and everyone stays safer for it.

Once customers are seated, instead of using menus which have come in contact with various hands, displaying a digital, interactive AR menu directly from the customer’s phone protects everyone involved. From menu to payment, the amount of physical contact is lowered significantly. In fact, the only point of contact is with the silverware and dishes which are thoroughly sanitized during the dishwashing cycle.

3. AR can help you get to know your customers better.

As your customers order via a digital AR menu from their phones, you now have the opportunity to get to know them on a deeper level: is that 1/4 pound burger getting clicked on but not ordered? Maybe it’s time to adjust the price or add more information to it. Maybe your best-selling salad is constantly being ordered with ranch instead of vinaigrette – you get to know that too. Your beautiful AR menu becomes a great tool for analytics that can help drive your menu offerings. What’s more, you no longer need to reprint an entire paper menu to change prices or offerings; by having a digital menu, you’re just a few clicks from having everything up to date!

Being able to really adapt on the fly, to the niche of your customers, lets you deliver a better product every time. Your customers will feel like you’re reading their minds and be grateful for it.

4. AR is great for accessibility.

This is something we’ve noticed that isn’t talked about much, but is huge for a multitude of reasons. Augmented Reality technology, combined with the fast data capabilities of modern tech, is perfect for accessibility. For example, your AR menu can instantly display multiple languages, eliminating barriers for tourists or non-English speakers. AR also means better options for people who are deaf or hard of hearing, as interactive menus can provide better and larger quantities of information compared to a paper menu. It’s even possible for customers to simply filter menu items by dietary restrictions or get a digital image of each and every dish you provide.

By creating an experience that more people can take part in, dining at your restaurant becomes so much more than just a virtual experience delivered through AR: you’re creating a practical solution that is more inclusive to all of your patrons.

5. Using AR in your restaurant can increase revenue.

Return on investment, a concept all business owners are familiar with. How does having Augmented Reality create positive ROI, outside of the ways listed above?

The main thing to consider is that you have your brand in your customer’s pocket. If they swipe up on their phone, there’s your logo. But what’s even more? They don’t have to be in your restaurant to spend money.

More and more business owners are learning that customers don’t disappear when they leave: breweries are launching beer clubs, and some are going delivery and catering, while others are making killer merchandise. There’s no limit to where you can reach when your brand is in everyone’s hand. In 2019 it was estimated that Americans check their phone 96 times per day. Where else can you get that amount of impressions?

Your customers could potentially be sitting comfortably at home and see what your food looks like. Or perhaps you could make it fun, and they can interact with a digital version of your mascot when scanning coupon mailers. AR adds depth to your presence digitally, making you stand out from the crowd.

Many food and beverage companies have already embraced Augmented Reality. Major chains like Starbucks and Burger King are creating ways to bring their product to life and every day the list of companies is growing longer. Not too long ago Dominos, for example, made it possible for customers to order a pizza using Snapchat’s AR capabilities.

Save money, make money and increase safety in the meantime? There’s one thing for certain: it’s hard to find services out there that can provide so many solutions with just one swipe and we’ve been working hard to make it happen. Here at Chewed Pixel Studios, we can custom-tailor an Augmented Reality experience to fit any restaurant, and we’d love to work with you to grow your business. After all, it’s what we do: solve problems with Augmented Reality to make you more money.


Got questions? Reach out here, and we’ll get back to you promptly!

5 TIPS FOR ADDING AUGMENTED REALITY (AR) TO YOUR EXISTING MARKETING STRATEGY

BY TODD RAMSEIER

When it comes to marketing, we know the number one priority is to increase sales. Whether your product is a physical item or a service, Augmented Reality can help make that happen. But as with any strategy, implementing it correctly is the key to watching it become a huge success to your sales and customers.

Here are 5 tips to adding AR to your already existing strategy:

1. Make it fun.

One of the biggest perks to AR, whether your customers use it directly, or your sales use to present, is that it’s fun. Capitalize on that and make it fun! Maybe your customers can change the colors of things, or get a cute avatar they can dress up. Maybe sales can get statistics on demand as they show off to the customer.

Taking the time to make the experience enjoyable, will create the desire to use your app. That impression will stick with the consumer far longer than generics, and your ROI will thank you for it.

2. Keep the branding consistent, tell your story!

Couple this with the first step, and you’re on your way to being viral! Your consumers will have those fond memories, and in those, will be your logos and colors. Most of us can still recall commercials that we loved from our childhood.

Taking the time to create an engaging AR experience, with consistent branding, and good storytelling and flow, will leave those lasting impressions for years, if not decades.

3. Less gimmicks.

Keep it simple. WWE did a great job creating a donation app. Instead of trying to compete with Pokemon Go, they made a simple AR experience where you got to feed a baby animal, and led you to their donation page. It was memorable, impressionable, and simple. They combined both steps 1, 2, and 3, to create something special.

It’s easy to fall into the trap of making AR or VR gimmicky, but we know they don’t last for long term. Can your consumers access discounts and sales through the app? Absolutely! But making that the only experience, will likely counter any long term ROI.

4. Add Value.

Building off the above, the key is to add value, if you’re adding AR to your existing strategies. This is another tool you have to create a lasting impression, win over customers, and keep current consumers engaged.

There are countless ways AR can do this, including geolocalization, so that customers will get content catered to them. Or perhaps they can chat live with customer service right from the app. Your imagination is the limit to adding value and creating a long term AR experience.

5. Use Analytics and Captures.

So you’ve worked with a great company like Chewed Pixel Studios, to build an AR experience. You’ve got it out in the world. The value doesn’t simply stop there!

There’s a lot of data you can start using depending on how you launched your app. Grab email addresses for direct marketing. Find out what products are generating the most interest. Analytics will allow you to continue growing your business and marketing strategy even farther.


There’s truly no limit to what Augmented Reality can do to grow your sales farther. Make the leap today, and discover why almost 90% of mid market businesses are leveraging AR in some form (Deloitte 2018). Your investors will thank you!