In 2020, the goal of restaurants was simply to survive. Month after month of empty dining rooms and quiet kitchens has left the restaurant industry reeling, as the National Restaurant Association reports:
- Forty percent of all restaurants in the U.S. have closed as a result of the pandemic.
- More than 8 million U.S. restaurant workers have been laid off or furloughed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic; two out of three restaurant workers have lost their jobs.
- By the end of 2020, the restaurant industry recorded $240 billion in losses, and it is forecast to lose an additional $80 billion by the end of April 2021.
Restaurants may be down, but they’re not out. Many have adjusted to COVID-related restrictions to their operations by adopting a pop-up model that allows them to set up shop in backyards, parking lots, and shared kitchens. In some cases, the pop-up restaurants are succeeding far beyond the operators’ expectations.
One reason for the growing popularity of pop-up restaurants for customers and owners is their reliance on contactless credit card readers to complete order payments safely and securely. By connecting a contactless credit card reader to their mobile POS systems, pop-up restaurants are able to eliminate a potential point of infection and attract more customers.
Guidelines for Implementing Contactless Credit Card Readers
Restaurants and other businesses are working to keep their customers and employees safe during the pandemic by following the steps outlined by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). One of the guidelines encourages restaurants and other retailers to “use touchless payments as much as possible.” In addition to contactless credit card readers, touchless payment options include mobile wallets installed on smartphones and smart watches.
Contactless payments are one of the trends that will redefine the restaurant and retail industries in 2021:
- Cash transactions are falling out of favor with customers and restaurant owners alike, in part as a way to reduce physical contact but also because handling cash is time-consuming and a potential security risk.
- Customers have come to expect the businesses they deal with to accommodate a variety of payment options, and increasingly their preferred payment method is to use a contactless credit card.
- Contactless credit card readers are also used in conjunction with self-service multimedia displays and other customer-facing POS devices that enhance the dining experience for customers.
- In addition, many restaurants now use tablet-based “kiosks” that support contactless payments, take up little space, and connect to the POS system wirelessly to allow restaurants to pop up anywhere there’s a network connection.
The use of mobile ePOS systems not only puts restaurants in business from just about anywhere, it also improves security because the portable devices are easier to store safely than traditional POS terminals and cash drawers.
The Top Features to Look for in a Contactless POS System
In addition to promoting safe dining, contactless technology helps pop-up restaurants operate more efficiently and deliver a higher-quality product. A POS system that supports contactless credit cards and other no-touch options delivers benefits beyond safety and efficiency:
- The customer information the systems collect can be used to stay in touch with your clients via email or text to alert them to a change in location, special menu items, or other offers or promotions their purchase history indicates they may be interested in.
- The systems collect a range of data about each sales transaction. This information can be used to analyze sales based on payment type, time and duration of the transaction, whether or not the customer used a credit card, whether they’re a returning customer, and other factors.
- The reports the systems generate indicate which of your employees are encouraging customers to take advantage of contactless credit cards and other no-touch payment options, along with other employee performance information.
- By sending customers their receipts via email or text, and delivering order tickets electronically, the systems further reduce the amount of touching done by customers and employees.
Making the Contactless Connection with Your Customers
Any “reinvention” of the restaurant business in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic will have a familiar foundation for chefs and restaurant owners: put the customer first. The key to successful implementation of contactless technology for pop-up restaurants is to make it easy and enjoyable for customers to adopt the no-touch approach to dining out.
Your restaurant’s customers need to feel like they’re in control of the order and payment process. The first step in putting power in the hands of customers—literally—is by allowing them to install the restaurant’s mobile app on their phones or other mobile devices. The app links seamlessly to your POS system and becomes the centerpoint of their interaction with the business. By engaging customers in the application of contactless technologies, they are more likely to become your brand ambassadors.
In addition to supporting contactless credit card readers, taking a no-touch approach to the pop-up restaurant’s operation allows customers to browse your up-to-date menu, including daily specials, via the restaurant’s custom app or website. Frequent customers can use the online options to review their past orders and receive discounts and other special offers when they reach certain thresholds.
Navigating the uncertainty surrounding the long-term impacts of the pandemic on your restaurant requires the assistance of a POS vendor who has the knowledge and experience to understand your business’s unique needs and characteristics. While a number of great eateries have fallen victim to the restrictions mandated by COVID-19 prevention measures, many more will weather the storm and come out the other end stronger and healthier than ever. Contactless technologies will be a big part of the future of restaurants.
Want to learn more about contactless payments?