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Digital ordering: hitting the ground running post-lockdown

Digital ordering: hitting the ground running post-lockdown

Digital ordering will be crucial when restaurants emerge from their COVID-19 hibernation. But what can you do now to make sure you hit the ground running when you’re able to trade freely again?

Digital ordering: hitting the ground running post-lockdown

This is a guest blog from our friends at QikServe

During this time of exceptional disruption to the hospitality industry, COVID-19 will prove to be the biggest driver of fundamental changes in the way restaurants operate now and into the future. Digital ordering and payment were on the increase anyway, but this virus will speed up its global adoption almost overnight.

Restaurants able to either pivot to online ordering for delivery/pickup or are already set-up for this type of operation have, at least, some form of viable revenue stream during lockdown. However, many dine-in restaurants and those unable to remain open during these times, will be looking for ways to hit the ground running when their doors open again.

It won’t be a case of ‘business as usual’ either. This pandemic will change the psyche of the populous for the long-term. Customers, particularly the over 70s, will be weary of public spaces and crowded restaurants. They’ll be more reluctant to touch shared devices such as kiosks and PED devices and contaminated monies. Prior to the outbreak, there was a growing trend of more people dining from home. Post-outbreak, this trend will be more of an established behaviour. And restaurants need to be able to service this new, post-corona world by adjusting their operations and adopting the right digital ordering technology now.

What digital ordering tech is best for my restaurant?

Order Ahead for pick up or delivery
Order ahead (also called ‘online ordering‘, ‘click and collect’, ‘pick-up’ or ‘to go’) allows customers to order online using their mobile, computer or tablet. They can then either have their meal delivered to them or they can pick-up the food themselves.

Because guests are using their own devices, order ahead means minimal social contact between your staff and customers as well as between customers themselves. It’ll help give your more worried or at–risk customers peace of mind and still let them purchase food from your restaurants.

Order ahead works for many different types of operators, from dine-in restaurants keen to offer an ancillary take-out service, to fish and chip shops and other forms of takeaways. Order ahead is great for fast casual as well as quick service restaurants too. All operators need to do is either allocate an in-store pick-up or curb-side collection point for customers to use, or reassign staff to delivery.

Post-pandemic, when restaurants’ budgets will be extremely tight, third-party delivery providers such as Just Eat and Deliveroo won’t be a commercially viable option for a lot of brands. With their high commission fees and monopoly on customer data, brands will be looking for other online ordering options that give them greater control over their revenues and customer info.

Kiosks
Kiosks help alleviate queuing and crowding by letting customers order and pay for their meal through a self-service kiosk, usually in-store. Restaurants will have to keep up new stringent cleaning measures of wiping down kiosks more frequently and providing customers with anti-bacterial wipes to ensure confidence in their biosafety. But, kiosks actually help with distancing customers from staff as well as reducing the need to handle potentially contaminated money.

Restaurants are expected to be hurting for months but a big advantage of kiosks is that they tend to encourage greater order value vs. ordering face-to-face. This will be a significant attraction for operators looking at all means necessary to make up for months of either limited or no trading.

Kiosks work best at quick service restaurants but, again, with the wide-ranging changes COVID-19 is forcing upon the hospitality industry, fast casual, takeaway and other types of operators are turning to kiosk to maximise their revenues and drive operational performance.

Pay at Table
For dine-in, Pay at Table lets customers pay for their meal, with their mobile, the moment they’re ready to leave. Using a branded web page, there’s no need to download an app, flag down staff, touch a PED device or handle cash. Diners can eat, pay and leave when it suits them. This technology also allows restaurants to turn their tables faster. Some operators might be compelled to increase space between tables as diners show preference for social distancing. This might mean reducing covers for restaurants with limited floor space. By helping to speed up table turns, restaurants can mitigate the impact of reduced table numbers by driving greater volume in a set timeframe. Pay at table suits fast casual and full-service operations best, especially at restaurants servicing transport hubs such as airports and train stations and where customers are in a hurry.

Get ready. Get set.
There couldn’t be a better time to fast-track your digital ordering initiatives than now. Especially if your ordering solutions need to be integrated into your back-end systems, such as point of sale, which takes a little more configuration. Whilst business is quiet or has stopped completely, now is the perfect time to plan, set-up and get ready to launch the digital services that will give your customers peace of mind and get your restaurant off to the best possible start when lockdown is over.

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