The COVID-19 pandemic has brought endless changes to the restaurant industry, but perhaps most important has been the rise of the contactless restaurant experience. The pandemic has forced restaurants to adapt not only to a new, leaner business model, but also to new consumption behavior. With customers opting for alternatives to on-site dining, restaurants have adapted to create solutions that offer take-out, delivery and curbside pick-up options.
It’s safe to say that the future of restaurants has been forever changed. This has led to further transformations by restaurateurs. It’s no longer about how to ensure the survival of your business. Instead, it’s about how to grow your business stronger than it was in the pre-COVID era, with the answer most likely being contactless restoration.
What is contactless restoration?
Contactless catering has become one of the hottest terms in restaurants since the start of the pandemic. But what exactly is contactless restoration?
The concept goes far beyond a simple online menu or a QR code. Contactless restoration is actually based on three fundamental pillars.
Every dining experience begins with a menu, so having yours available online is the first step to going contactless. However, restaurants have discovered that not all online menus are the same.
So what exactly is a good contactless menu? There are three defining traits.
A good mobile experience
The ability to update it frequently
An easily shareable link or QR code
The good news is that it’s never been easier for restaurants to design professional-looking, state-of-the-art online menus. Several solutions have emerged over the past year that allow you to customize menu templates and share them online in minutes.
Creating a contactless ordering experience for your restaurant customers is important to keeping your business competitive and profitable. Restaurants have endless third-party ordering app options, but these come at a price, roughly five twenty percent of every sale.
Each restaurant should consider hosting their own online ordering. Point of sale and restaurant management software has made it easier than ever to set up your own system and removed the need to contact a third party if something went wrong.
The final step towards contactless catering, which was popular across the industry even before the pandemic, is cashless payment. This allows customers to pay in the safest and most convenient way possible. Whether it’s a credit card, Paypal, Apple Pay, or some other service, customers expect they can pay as they please. Contactless payment removes a potential barrier between you and more sales.
How to improve your contactless catering?
Contactless catering can impose the challenge of creating a memorable customer experience without actually interacting with customers. However, there are several ways to improve the contactless dining experience to ensure that customer satisfaction remains high and your restaurant operates smoothly and efficiently. Here are some ideas to get you started.
QR codes have been around since 2010, but have only become widely used in recent years. Then came the pandemic and usage rates skyrocketed 750 percent in the past year and a half as restaurants have turned to technology to continue operating safely with contactless service.
Now that many restrictions have been lifted and restaurants across the country are welcoming returning diners, QR codes are no longer seen primarily as a security solution. Allowing customers to view menus via a QR code means less waste of paper for restaurants and more opportunities to improve their menu design online.
Even though QR codes are likely to stick around, restaurants shouldn’t get rid of their paper menus just yet, as QR code menus are still not widely available to all customers, mainly those without smartphone capabilities. or QR reader. There are also concerns about the information QR codes collect, and while this can be a great sales overview for restaurants to help them analyze customer needs and habits and respond more to their requests, some diners are hesitant about technology.
Pivoting throughout the pandemic, restaurants have been riding the wave of mobile ordering options and the growing amount of consumer app orders. Still, it turns out that this wave was more of a tsunami of change, as it doesn’t look like pre-COVID preferences are returning anytime soon.
OpenTable reported a 44% growth rate from 2019 to 2021 in the United States in the online meal delivery industry. Accelerated by the pandemic, digital restaurant delivery (mobile apps, online orders, SMS orders) increased 123% in the United States from 2019 to 2020.
Restaurants have found that they don’t need large, bulky, multi-page websites. What they need is a simple, streamlined web presence that can fit in the palms of their customers’ hands, also known as a landing page.
A landing page is a branded website that displays only your most important links. It is specially designed for mobile use, can be updated easily at any time and can be linked directly with a QR code.
New trends in the world of contactless catering
The food industry continues to evolve in ways that make things faster and easier for consumers. Starbucks recently launched a Pickup store in partnership with Amazon go.
âOur goal with this new store concept is to give our customers the ability to choose the experience that is right for them throughout their day, whether it’s using the Starbucks and Amazon apps to shopping for food. food and drink on the go or decide to stay in the lounge for the traditional third place experience Starbucks is known for. â Katie Young, senior vice president of global growth and development at Starbucks, said in a statement.
These types of practical partnerships have continued in the hospitality industry as well. Hospitality technology company Criton has partnered with catering technology company Hungrrr to add a secure, contactless food ordering system to its app for hotel guests. The app allows guests to self-order and pay for food and drink, both in the hotel restaurant or in the room, from their mobile device. This solution was designed to help hoteliers generate income from food and drink while protecting the health of their guests.
With the growing need for a convenient way to order, Grubhub has partnered to extend its restaurant network to Transact’s CampusCash program to offer universities an off-campus meal spending program for students. The CampusCash program now allows 12 million students to use their cashless payments at more than 300,000 restaurants nationwide.
How the restaurant industry has changed forever
Once seen as a job killer, automation has saved and will continue to serve an understaffed food industry. With nearly 7,000 hotel workers having left their jobs since the start of the pandemic, restaurants continue to operate with a reduced team. Amid this shortage, restaurateurs and customers alike are seeing the value of automation technology.
Like 77 percent of consumers going back to the restaurant at least once a month, running a smooth and efficient operation has become more crucial than ever. These technologies have ensured the stability and efficiency of restaurants and the entire food industry to keep up with consumer expectations.
The pandemic has forced huge changes in the hospitality industry, with 90 percent of American traders noting that they believe the technology has helped their business survive over the past two years.
While there have been many restaurants that have closed due to the effects of the pandemic, those that are still open have found new ways to improve their customer experience, using technology as an aid, proving that contactless can be eternal.