AR/VR in Restaurants : Unveiling Its Benefits, Challenges & Use Cases

The rise of Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) has opened the door for many business sectors, helping them make the most out of their businesses and while spending fewer resources. The restaurant is one of the segments having a vast potential for AR/VR.

Hotels and Restaurants have been the most lucrative business, and there’s an immense opportunity for the businesses to make the most out of it. A lot of big and popular brands in the food and beverage industries have adopted the AR technologies to enhance engagement with customers.

Let’s take some of the examples of such industries and how they are getting benefits.

NYC-based Magnolia Bakery

The deployment of AR technology has enabled the bakery to present virtual rendering of cakes and other items in the store. When a customer arrives at the store, he/she is presented with an AR-based catering menu. Customers can feel, touch and explore.

19 Crimes Wine

The 19 Crime Wine by Treasury Wine Estates also developed an AR-based app which gives users mesmerizing feeling. The users need to download the app and pint the image scanner in the app on the image printed on the bottle. The image will narrate the crime story to them. That’s amazing!

Similarly, there are various sit-up restaurants have adopted the AR technology to provide excellent user experience to customers visiting the restaurant. Bareburger restaurant is also one of the early adopters among the top sit-up restaurants which present users with a 3D image.

Things are changing, and in the coming days, you can see the entire restaurant sector will be equipped with high-tech technology, earning more profits while providing safe, convenient and cost-effective food and services to customers.

AR/VR from Market Point of Views

Augmented Reality is growing by leaps and bounds, in terms of market share. Here’s the glimpse of it;

$160 Billion is the estimated market revenue of AR/VR Industry by 2023

171 Million is the annual number of AR/VR users around the world

30 Million AR/VR devices are expected to be sold per year by 2023 – Source: Statista

70% of total AR/VR users believe that it will be beneficial for them

Today is the day of AR/VR (Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality), and the restaurant sector is one of the prime beneficiaries of the technology. I have chosen this topic for today as I have got through a lot of questions from my clients and readers seeking the right suggestion for their business on how to provide quick and convenient services to the people using the AR and VR.

But first…

Begin with the Basic Understanding of Augmented Reality?

Augmented Reality (AR) is augmenting physical products as live as it is and real-world environment to the people with the help of computer-created sensory inputs which include video, graphics, GSP and other data. It’s something visualizing the real world, which is no physical presence.

Benefits of Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality (AR/VR) Apps for Restaurant

AR/VR has enormous potential for restaurant sectors as it is going to transform the industry in terms of earning, enhancing the user experience, and keeping employee productivity and helping. Let’s find out what sort of benefits AR/VR has for our sector.

Standby Customer Expectations

You may have hundreds of customers visiting your restaurants on a daily basis. They are not the same with same vision, they are different and they have their choices. The written food menu may not be sufficient enough to explain what the food will actually look like after preparation. The customers are left with two options here: one is online reviews and the other is a recommendation.

The AR-based app can change this trend by bringing a written menu to life. The visual representation will give customers options to choose the desired food. The informed choice is effective than visual representation.

AR Food Menu with 3D View:

With the help of AR, you can create something quality 3D model of actual menus & dishes through which you can visualize your advanced customer version of menus and showcase things more realistically. At the same time, the menu will have many things on board and can know the many things like portion size, nutrition information, ingredients and number of people can serve together.

Take a look at the video how it works;

The use of AR has started in many restaurants and providing an app for regular and even occasional customers. One such example is KabaQ, which provides a complete list of 3D menus and helps customers know the actual test.

Removes Language Barrier, Attracts More New Customers

The AR-based app is helpful in many terms, one of the main benefits of this app is that you can remove the language barrier and let all types of customers connect with, no matter what language they are comfortable in. The application can be easily customized based on that.

Apart from that, you can also include information regarding nutrition, and it will help you enhance customers’ engagement. Customers can find food based on their taste from the food directory. For example, religion-based food, health-based food, and diet-based food will help all types of people connect with your app.

Advertising of Your Restaurants

Advertising is the backbone of any business to run successfully. You may have your traditional method to advertise it, but you can enhance the engagement even more by inculcating technology into it. Technology, especially your AR-based application, has enormous potential to provide you with space to make your products among common people. You can take your business more in the positive direction.

Take a look at the interactive AR ads used by Arctic Home Campaign by Coca-Cola and the World Wide Fund.

Augmented Reality will add fuel in the ad-fire and help you reach a maximum number of customers by providing an excellent view of your products. Apart from that, you can show your customers something real, live and perfect. You can place a giant billboard with an augmented reality feature, and it will visualize everything right from how the food is being prepared and served in your restaurant. Avoiding AR for restaurant, you are missing out on an endless opportunity.

Keep Customers Engaged with AR-based Games

The tabletop menu approach is making a big break in the restaurant sector. Customers visiting your restaurant can enjoy virtual games right from their table. It is beneficial as a survey claims that more than 10% of the customers play the game and equally goes to the additional revenue stream for the brand. Keeping customers busy is an ole trick, yet productive even today. Means have changed, but it works on the same old methods. You will find play area in most of the restaurants today, and AR will help you keep them engaged and entertained. One of the live examples is Chipotle, which created a game called “the scarecrow.” It is working effectively and helping the restaurant engage more customers in the place. You can watch this in the video here;

The largest American multinational pizza restaurant chain also started an initiative in 2011. It launched an app named ‘the pizza hero app,’ which enabled customers to make virtual pizzas and order it within the app. That was very effective.

Learn more about your Customers’ Liking

The AR-based application will also help restaurant owners to get more about their customers and understand their views on many things such as their favourite food, likings, about prices and much more. To say this, you can get many ideas from their side and improve the quality of food and services. The Application you make for your restaurants will have plenty of features, including the one which gives data on popular dishes and which dishes from the menu attract your customers more. At the same time, you can also get their views on many things like reviews for their favourite dish and ask for their opinions on a favourite recipe and get their advice. You can also run promotional activities by having some promotional features like surveys and others.

Train Your Employees

As the Augmented Reality advances, it brings with lots of opportunities for every sector. For restaurants, it not only helps people get more new customers but also allows restaurants to train their employees. For example;

VR-based Training for Chefs, Bartenders and Fresher in the Restaurants:

AR and VR have been the most integral part of medical institutions to train their students and other staff in the company. It is helping the manufacturer to train the staff without investing a lot behind their training program.

Similarly, the restaurant industry is also utilizing the AR/VR application to train their staffs. The VR or Virtual Reality will teach an employee to remain productive while serving more customers visiting the restaurant. For example, virtual Reality can help your restaurant chefs cook more delicious and regional-based food and help staff or operate complex machines that they are not aware of.

Take a look in the video how it virtual kitchen helps employee make the most out of it;

Enhances Productivity:

AR is multitasking and within the restaurant, it can serve many purposes. The goal which we are talking about here is to help employees carry out their tasks flawlessly. For example, it helps your staff s estimate the portion size, teach maintenance techniques to employees and disassemble and reassemble equipment even if not aware of -AR headsets will explain how to do it.

However, the fact of the matter is the small restaurant businesses are still away from adopting the technology due to its cost. No doubt, it’s costly for the team, as of now. But it will get cheaper as it matures even further.

Excellent Customer Experiences

Customers for restaurants are the prime and only source to earn benefits. You are ready to woo them by all means. AR could be the right choice here as it has plenty of potentials to make your job easy.

Make Customer Waiting Time Utilized:

We discussed this in the paragraphs above about this that how games can help you engage your customers. So, here, we will be talking something similar but from a different angle. In-game, you are providing your customers with a VR game so that they can enjoy playing games while their food being prepared and served. Besides, if you are in budget, you can put headsets on the table so the customers can enjoy watching their favorite stuff from the phone and other means. At the same time, you can provide them with some useful restaurant tips in the video form.

For example, you can provide them with a video containing some nutrients, food, health benefits, and how it is prepared, including the ingredients. Here’s one such example is Hiptoro restaurant; Let check it out…

Deliver Experience, not Products:

You know the “Experiential Marketing.” The idea behind this was to make customers “Experience” the product when they hit the counter or store and restaurants. This started with a tagline that defines the meaning of the products.

For example, all companies are having tagline right after or even before the brand name. One such example is “Redbull which carries a tagline as “It gives you wings. Similarly, it applies to restaurant sectors, and it is advantageous as well.

Gunn Beer started a very unique approach for its customers. It provides customers with VR headsets so that visitors can enjoy the immersive view (As is shown in the video) while serving the beer.

Similarly, Patron Tequila provides 360-degree VR headsets. The customers visiting the restaurants can visualize the entire making process of the products using the VR headsets. You can see this in the video here.

AR to Let your Products Interact with Customers Visiting the Restaurants

Today’s customers are very serious about their health, and they are very much interested to know about the food products they are about to eat. AR will help you sort out this issue. For example;

Help Dinners Know What They Eat

Health risk, nobody wants to bet on that. As the customers are becoming health conscious, they will want to know the health benefits of the food they are going to eat. They must. But, the question is “do you have the manpower to educate and inform the health benefits to all your customers?” No, most of you may say this. But, Augmented Reality can make it possible as you can find some features within which will educate dinner and make them aware of everything including, the health benefits of the food and what the health ingredients used in the diet.

Customers can explore the food and get the information that will consist of everything they wish to know.

Establish Proper Communication Channel to Let Customers Interact with Daily Foods

If you are selling daily foods, then you can create a communication channel for your brand. For example, the method is to let customers augment with your meal as Nestle did by printing AR-based markers the cereal boxes. That box enables customers to play a game (AR-based game) in which the users will get characters from the famous movie “Rio.” That game is nothing but let the customers psychologically interact with the food as they need to feed the bird using their hands to fill the bowl.


Also Check our Article : Artificial Intelligence AI in Restaurant Business – Benefits, Possibilities & Future


AR/VR Challenges for Restaurant Sectors

Nothing comes without challenges, and no challenge is Olympian! But, AR/VR has some challenges within the restaurant sector, which will be sorted out over time. Immersive technologies are very popular in enterprise sectors, the healthcare sector, and the manufacturing sector, though each industry has faced little challenges while implementing it. However, it will take around 5 to 10 years before this technology reaches its mature level. For the restaurant industry, the story goes between the same line and will take some time to get into the industry altogether. In the following paragraphs, you will find the challenges which restaurant sectors are facing to implement the AR/VR.

3D Design Interface

The first, and I think the biggest challenge for a restaurant to adopt the technology is to have proper user experience design. Popular restaurants owner can afford to have this, though it is a bit expensive for a large number of middle and small restaurant owners.

Lack of Skill

The other challenge is that the lacking skill and you have very few people who are master in this design skill, no doubt as the technology is new, you are will face this issue for some time.

Missing Technology Elements

Even though AR/VR is available to consumers and they can buy through devices such as Sony PlayStation VR, Samsung Gear VR, and name just a few, it is still lacking incorporating some of the essential things. They are;

  1. Convenience
  2. Control

Convenience: Convenience relates to two things -one is availability and access. People do not make many choices while they cannot access it due to high cost and complex functionalities for employees in a restaurant to operate it freely. At the same time, people visiting the restaurant need to be trained on how to manage it. Some may be aware of using the technologies while some need assistance.

Control: Control points towards the agency. That means not all VR devices provide everything that VR expected to be. For example, some methods are lacking gestures and movement control. It is possible that for restaurant sectors requiring features may create noise for some customers.


Also Check our Article : How Technology Can Help Restaurants to Serve Millennial & Gen Z Better


Some of the Popular Use Cases of AR/VR in Restaurants

Walmart & Kraft Initiative to Engage with Customers

The two top brands like Wal-Mart -retail giant and Kraft -grocery giant partnered to have mutual benefits from each others’ customers. They created AI-based labels that provide users with various recipes and tips to cook food using Kraft products. The customers needed to buy Kraft products from Wal-Mart, and they will be given labels containing tips to cook food using the groceries from Kraft brand.

“Vida e cafe” and Atlantis, Palm Islands & Tourism Initiative to Engage Customers

One of the largest chain of coffee franchises “Vida e cafe” which took a big decision by partnering with the Atlantis -a fictional island and a Palm Islands & Tourism. The sole purpose of this tie-up was to lure several customers to the cafe. The customers who would buy a cup of coffee with sleeve would have a chance to win an expense-paid trip to Dubai.

The customers needed to download the AR-based application, Layar, and scan the sleeve using the app. You will have the chance to experience by engaging with the Atlantis, Palm. Now, you can take part in the competition, share with friends and of course win prizes.

The affiliate program ran successfully and helped both partners get mutual benefits.

Types of AR-based Restaurant Applications

You can create many AR-based restaurant applications. They include;

Customer Centric Apps

You can create the one for customers, which will help them explore their favorite dishes and book table. Usually such App can be installed from App Store directly by the customers or prospective customers who are looking for restaurant services.

Inhouse Engagement & Entertainment Apps

The other can be when they are in the restaurant can explore the menu and place order. At the same time, there can be various games and entertainment based features so that users can enjoy until their food is being prepared.

Operational Apps

The third can be for employees who can receive the order and serve the food at the right time to the right table.

Besides, there can be yet other AR-based apps for employees, including Chefs and fresher, to get training.

Restaurant Solutions
Final Thoughts
Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) have vast potential for a lot of sectors. For restaurants, it is going to be one of the most integral elements. The restaurant sector can make the most out of technology. However, it is still behind due to many reasons. A lot of restaurant owners have not adopted this technology due to its lacking features, expensiveness. As it matures, everyone will get this for their restaurants. You can create many AR-based restaurant applications.

In the coming days, incorporating the Augment Reality app will be a must for all. This is the right time to go and explore the potential of technology for your business.

You can take help Restaurant App Development Company and get a suggestion if you are ready to embed AR in your restaurant and cafe.

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    Saurabh Barot

    Saurabh Barot, the CTO of Aglowid IT Solutions, leads a team of 50+ IT experts across various domains. He excels in web, mobile, IoT, AI/ML, and emerging tech. Saurabh's technical prowess is underscored by his contributions to Agile, Scrum, and Sprint-based milestones. His guidance as a CTO ensures remote teams achieve project success with precision and technical excellence.

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