The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is making us reconsider what is essential in the restaurant industry. Formal restrictions, consumer uncertainty, and the need to provide a safe dining environment—be it onsite or external—are pushing restaurateurs to embrace a new contactless reality.
That reality centers on incorporating distance into dining without losing the appeal that makes a professionally prepared and presented meal worth paying for.
A contactless dining app can keep your restaurant open during the ongoing COVID uncertainty by easing your customers’ fears, abiding by industry regulations, and making the most of every dollar that passes through your business.
What Is a Contactless Dining App?
Contactless dining apps essentially reduce the number of shared surfaces involved in each transaction. The most common example has been with us in the form of contactless payment options. Where once it was necessary to handle and rehandle cash at every sale, now we as a society are accustomed, and in many ways prefer, to use a wave of our credit or debit card or the screen of our phone to pay for things.
A contactless dining app takes that concept and extends it across the dining experience so your customers can still enjoy your food, and hopefully your ambiance and mood as well, while remaining safe.
Features of such a system include:
- Taking online orders for delivery or on-site dining
- Using QR codes to access menus of private devices
- Using digital networks to take and send orders
- Having customers collect dishes themselves
- Increasing self-service options
The key to the success of these features is that they all sit together within an integrated app that introduces efficiencies and safeguards you can’t get through a disconnected series of best intentions.
COVID-Safe POS Solutions
The restaurant industry was increasingly moving toward greater digital integration before the current pandemic conditions struck, so for some the switch is an easy one to make.
That switch centers on replacing the isolated and clunky cash register with iPad-powered mobile stations, screens, and personal devices that can be personalized to suit any customer-service industry.
These systems store all the data and software that makes a restaurant work—from inventory to customer order modifications—in a central internet or cloud-based platform that can be accessed by every team member when and wherever they need it.
To reduce COVID hardships and to maximize contactless potential, these systems just need to be pressed into service within a new environment. In the process, you can introduce a number of money-saving initiatives.
Bringing Online In-House
One advantage restaurants have in this contactless environment is a customer base that is well versed in ordering online. Around 70% of Americans already order food online and more than $30 billion is spent on restaurant delivery each year.
While that obviously makes it easier to bring your best dishes to people’s doors, it can also make it possible to observe contactless principles while serving diners onsite.
Why not ask your seated guests to order from your online menu with their phones even though they’re just feet from the kitchen? You can use QR codes left at tables, or even ask people to order from home before they arrive.
How does this save money? You can reduce your spending on menus and printed specials, and you can cut down on waste and incorrect orders by having the customer themselves pass their requests directly to the kitchen. You also reduce the need for wait staff.
Contactless Dining App Payments
The current pandemic has turned many people off using cash in their daily lives for fear of tracking the virus across the highly trafficked surfaces. Recent research shows more than 50% of people are concerned about handling currency and 60% plan on using contactless payment in the future.
Fortunately, contactless payments are easy to incorporate into your digital POS system. In fact, the leading systems can accommodate a range of hardware and software that will allow payment across all the major debit and credit cards, as well as third-party apps, such as Paypal, and phone-based apps like Apple and Google Pay.
You can issue bills and receipts by email to ensure there’s no physical contact during the final phase of a meal.
How does this save money? Digital transactions are accurate and rapid, which means steadier cash flow through your business and a reduction in late fees and other penalties that arise when you’re cash poor. Digital transactions also remove the need for cumbersome double-handling of cash to get it to your business accounts.
Digital Message Delivery
Contactless dining apps reduce the threat of COVID by reducing the need for human handling of orders and other messages. The online ordering tech outlined above can reduce the need for wait staff, but even where they’re employed they can take and send messages via iPad and private devices they don’t share with customers or other staff. The result is contactless, digital messages flashed across screens in the kitchen, bar, or concierge desk that are highly visual and easy to understand.
How does this save money? Every time you cut out handwritten and spoken messages you reduce complexity and remove expensive errors. Orders are no longer lost, drinks are automatically duplicated to the bar, and no one ever has to be refunded for their meal—a cost that compounds across lost profit, wasted product, and empty excess salary.
More Efficient Inventory
Pandemic conditions are going to continue putting a premium on every dollar of spend that goes into a restaurant. It is estimated the US industry could lose more than $240 billion before the end of 2020.
That makes accounting for every product bought, every item wasted, and every drink poured crucial to long-term survival.
The precision of contactless dining apps makes them a value-add under such circumstances. By integrating purchase orders, live sales, inventory, and sales reporting within a central POS system, you get an always up-to-date understanding of where every dollar going into your business comes out the other side.
How does this save money? Digital systems get rid of paper-based services and accounts and improve the accuracy and efficiency of the bookkeeping side of the business. There’s no more shared document to touch, which limits COVID exposure, and there’s no more profit and loss siloed away in disconnected programs, which saves money.
Perhaps even more than the other contactless possibilities listed above, taking your business tools digital means you don’t have to use anything but your own personal devices to run your business and interact with your customers, suppliers, and staff.
Contactless Dining Apps Attract Diners and earn Money
The rules that surround dining options vary across the nation, and every restaurant must find solutions to its own unique mix of statutory and customer requirements.
Embracing a contactless dining app and the approaches outlined above gives you a chance to maximize your potential and attract the largest possible number of diners—that, ultimately is the best way to improve revenue during an uncertain time.
If your customers can’t visit in person, then present delivery options that emphasize discretion and safety. If it’s too dangerous to employ wait staff, then make your self-service options are foolproof and logical. If your kitchen crew has to be reduced, then make sure your online presence and menu reflect your new capabilities.
Above all else, wherever possible, eliminate shared surfaces by conducting business digitally. An experienced POS partner like talech can help your business adjust operations smoothly. From reaching new audiences to engaging with your existing customers more often, we give you the tools to adapt quickly and with confidence.
Want to learn more about contactless payments?