A few years back if anyone told you that the restaurant industry would need amassed implementation of “Contactless Technology” for a dine-in setup, you’d probably shrugged the idea and moved on from the conversation with a sarcastic comment. But with COVID1-9 continuing to lurk as a threat, contactless as a concept has become one of the most prominent realities of today. The pandemic has reoriented the interactions in the food industry forever.
According to a recent study by the National Association of Restaurants, some 80 percent of respondents said they avoid going to the restaurants since the pandemic began, but 66 percent said if a restaurant would proactively communicate the health and safety precautions they’re taking to mitigate the risk of virus transmission that would increase the likelihood of them visiting the restaurant. The new business recipe to win the hearts of customers is – contactless dining.
Given the fact, restaurants and their apprehensive customers are now relying heavily on Contactless Dining Solutions to maintain a high degree of safety at all touchpoints. In the last quarter of 2020, 54% of the surviving restaurants and 100% of popular QSR chains implemented contactless ordering in their premises to make dining safe and convenient for their guests. Effective marketing of such changes led to a 30% increase in the on-premise traffic. Similarly, restaurants that pivoted to delivery only model also observed a 20% surge in online orders after implementing contactless delivery.
But then there are many who argue that “Contactless” is a fad and the demand for it will taper off as and when the world starts getting back to normal. But going back to normal is nothing more than a myth. We all have entered the New Normal and the new era, the post-covid era is going to be a lot different than what you, I, or any one of us are accustomed to. We have seen a drastic shift in customers’ expectations from restaurants, and soon those expectations will manifest into habits that restaurant owners would have to account for while creating sales, operations, and marketing strategies for the future.
Contactless dining’ has three components — a contactless menu, contactless ordering, and contactless payment, synchronized in one QR Code.
What does contactless mean for guests?
Speaking of contactless technology and how it benefits the guests, many restaurants that were the first ones to implement the technology reported an increase of 15% in customer loyalty.
QR Menu Ordering provides better brand experiences and more relevant and meaningful information to customers at their fingertips.
Reduces Direct Contact: Perhaps the most obvious and most important benefit of contactless dining is that it dramatically reduces the need for direct contact between restaurant staff and the customers. The risk of contamination of surfaces and transmission is greatly reduced when the customer is able to place the order and make the payment from their own device the minimize the spread of the virus.
Builds Trust: COVID outbreak has heightened customers’ anxieties around safety and hygiene. Knowing that their favorite restaurant offers a no-touch, the safe dine-in environment can boost their confidence and encourage them to step out for a pleasant sit-down meal with their friends and family.
So how does it work for the guests?
Pick a Table: Guests are advised to pick a table as soon as they enter the restaurant. The table is positioned keeping in mind the social distancing norms, minimum of 6 feet apart. Most states only allow restaurants to operate at 25% capacity.
Scan the QR Code: This is where contactless technology comes into work. Each table is assigned a number and a QR code that guests scan using their mobile phone. They don’t need an app to do so. Simply open the camera and scan the code. On scanning, the restaurant menu will open that guests can use to browse the items and place orders.
Place Orders: QR Menu Ordering allows guests to browse the menu at their own pace without worrying about the server waiting at their table to take down the order. Each item can be uploaded with a relevant image, a list of ingredients, and a short description that would help customers makes an informed pick.
Pay Contactless: When the customer is ready for the check, it doesn’t come in the hands of the liveried steward but a ping on the phone. The customer can choose the most preferred payment method from the available options and make the payment without any exchange of cards or cash.
What does contactless mean for restaurants?
Many restaurants have been grappling with the effects of the outbreak and the restrictions that came along. But the demand for operators to respond quickly to various fulfillment requests ranging from contactless dine-in to curbside pickup, takeaway, and delivery is more important now than ever. QR codes can easily turn a customer’s mobile phones into digital menu boards.
Ease of Operations: Safety regulations mean that physical menus cannot be shared amongst customers, and restaurants certainly can’t afford to print thousands of menus per month, only to discard them after every use. In such a case, implementing QR menu scanning technology to the entire ordering process can simplify the process, as well as boost the demand.
Customer Loyalty: As mentioned above, restaurants that implemented no-touch ordering as a response to the pandemic outbreak observed a 15% increase in customer loyalty. They also reported a substantial increase in demand for online orders and curbside.
No Errors: Digital ordering reduces the risk of errors that may arise when servers take orders manually Since the order details are already in digital format, they can be easily communicated to the kitchen without any scope for error or misunderstanding. As a result, the customer gets exactly what was ordered.
Capture real-time data & feedback: Digital contactless ordering also gives restaurants direct access to customer data, which includes details on their preferences, special occasions, spending habits, and so on. All these parameters help engage, convert and retain customers through personalized deals, reward systems, and loyalty points. The same data can also be sued to recommend dishes for upselling, which automatically leads to higher cart value on each transaction.
Boost staff productivity: Now that the waitstaff won’t have to constantly move back and forth between tables, taking orders, bring out dishes, collect payments – they can focus more on improving the customer’s dining experience. With guests taking care of the ordering and payment process, you can assign staff on other important tasks that directly contribute to the brand’s success.
How to use contactless to improve the overall experience not only today – but in the future.
As restaurants continue to evolve with the changing times, it’s time to re-imagine how contactless technology can become mainstream in enhancing the overall guest experience. By implementing such innovative solutions, guests feel more in control of their experience, making it easy for restaurants to achieve higher customer satisfaction.
On the other hand, restaurants can take the contactless experience to a new height by adding more layers of safety, choice, and creativity to the existing infrastructure. As we go deeper into the implementation and integrations of the technology, we should be able to add more frizz to existing offerings.
A re-calibration of restaurant marketing is required
It should not come as a surprise to restaurant operators if marketing plans drafted at the beginning of 2020 stop giving results in 2021. They need a major overhaul. The challenge for restaurants is not only delivering a great experience to existing customers but optimizing channels where the brand can reach potential customers as well. Doing so will allow restaurants to boost the bottom line.
Today, about 60% of the US population get their news from social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and alike. And we have seen a dramatic increase in food orders via social media as most people started spending a considerable amount of time at home with families. Creating a true 1:1 engagement with the target audience offers new opportunities and can be augmented with personalized experiences.
To begin with, put out content that people want to see. At present, they want to feel safe and will step in only if they trust the brand.
Let’s take the following example:
Pizza Hut, since the very beginning of the pandemic, has been quite vocal about the precautions it has been taking to ensure safe food deliveries. When lockdowns lifted, they were quick to implement Contactless Dining in all outlets, and this change was profoundly communicated to their customers thor various marketing channels. Marketing strategies went over and beyond a few Instagram posts and Facebook ads. Just like Pizza Hut, a number of other QSRs and even independent restaurants started putting out videos of their kitchen and staff to showcase how each and every aspect of food preparation has been redesigned to ensure maximum safety. Behind the scenes were a super hit amongst customers and helped boost their confidence in the brand they want to engage with for their cravings.
Also make sure that your marketing efforts are data-driven, as local as possible, and focused on revenue-generating activities.
Flexible Ordering Solutions: The key to success in the COVID world.
Now contactless is not just limited to on-premises dining. It can be used for takeaway, curbside pick up, and online ordering, expanding the survival offering for restaurants.
Takeout and delivery are two other important channels that restaurants must think about optimizing during pandemic times, as well as prepare for the future. By making these channels contactless, restaurants will be able to reach a wider audience, increase revenue as well as boost profitability with commission-free solutions.
Depending on the restaurant’s offerings, guests should be able to order online via the website, mobile app, or QR code scanning for delivery, takeaway, curbside, or drive-thrus.
Go Contactless with Tasti for FREE
Finding a reliable contactless technology system provider may not be an easy feat in the market when hundreds of solution providers claim to offer the most seamless technology for all kinds of requirements and budgets. But what you must really consider when choosing a restaurant technology partner is the added value that it offers along with seamless integrations with a variety of service channels – whether it’s delivery, takeout, or dine-in.
Tasti Contactless Ordering for Restaurants offers a solution that integrates branded menu ordering, flexible payment options, and a seamless user experience through all service channels. To extend our support to the restaurant industry, we have launched a FREEMIUM PLAN so restaurant operators can start engaging their customers on a variety of service channels without any additional financial burden. If you have the setup, infrastructure, and a team, we have the technology that you need to reach your customers, and we’re giving it out for absolutely no cost. No hidden charges. No gimmicks. A Simple Help to uplift restaurants that have been severely affected by the pandemic.
And as always, if you need any guidance, we’re here to point you in the right direction. Let us know how we can help.