The COVID-19 pandemic has upended many industries, but none more so than restaurants:
- Statista reports that traffic at full-service restaurants declined by 47 percent in the second quarter of 2020 compared to the year-earlier quarter; quick-service restaurants experienced a 17 percent decline in diners year over year.
- As of December 2020, more than 110,000 restaurants have closed permanently in the U.S. due to COVID-19, according to Bloomberg, an increase from 100,000 in the September 2020 survey.
- Greater than 500,000 U.S. restaurants of all types “are in an economic freefall,” according to an executive for the National Restaurant Association quoted by Bloomberg.
Fine dining restaurants that have taken the brunt of the pandemic-related damage are responding by adopting the contactless dining solutions that have helped their quick-service counterparts to weather the COVID storm. Here’s a look at five ways contactless dining technologies can benefit high-end restaurants, their patrons, and their employees.
QR Codes Provide Benefits to Restaurants Beyond Safety
A technology pioneered by the automobile industry is finding many useful applications in fine dining restaurants. QR codes were first used decades ago to improve the efficiency of assembly lines by using the scannable computer-generated images to manage inventory, among other purposes.
The technology has found a home in restaurants as a way to reduce food waste by keeping close tabs on inventory. In addition, restaurant patrons can use their smartphones to scan QR codes and gain touchless access to menus and other information. They can also use the technology to make contactless payments.
QR codes allow restaurants to create customer profiles by having patrons scan one as part of the check-in process. The information collected by the scan is converted automatically into a customer record that restaurants and visitors can access to view purchase histories, preferences, contact information, and other useful data.
How Fine Restaurants Can Take Advantage of Contactless Deliveries
When health concerns prevent people from dining inside restaurants, owners respond by bringing their fare to their customers, whether via delivery or curbside pickup. Both contactless dining options provide a lifeline for fine restaurants until diners can once again enjoy the ambiance and luxury of the high-end restaurant experience.
A modern, cloud-based ePOS system makes implementing contactless deliveries and pickups simple and straightforward:
- Customers place their orders using the restaurant’s custom mobile app or website, or via telephone.
- They pay for their orders via the app or website, or by providing their payment information over the phone. The customer’s payment information can be saved securely to facilitate completing future orders.
- The orders are transmitted automatically to the kitchen, and once the meals are prepared, the wait staff readies the orders for delivery or pickup. Customers can track their orders through the process and be alerted to a delivery or pickup time.
Cloud-based POS systems offer the seamless integration that ensures the order-and-fulfillment process runs smoothly. By combining online and in-person operations, the systems support the restaurant’s omnichannel marketing efforts by linking sales and customer information, inventory and employee management, and back-office systems.
Contactless Technologies Improve the Dining Experience for Customers
Service is the name of the game for fine dining restaurants. Without diners in their establishments, restaurant owners are finding new ways to give their patrons an enjoyable night out, without actually going “out.” For example, transactions that are completed using contactless technologies are faster, more accurate, and at least as secure as those done using traditional payment methods.
In addition to minimizing direct contact between diners and employees, contactless options enhance the restaurant’s marketing efforts by allowing them to establish closer ties to their customers. Modern POS systems that support contactless operations facilitate the collection of customer email addresses and phone numbers so that restaurants can contact their patrons via email or text to keep them informed about changes and provide them with discounts and other special offers.
Contactless Payments Help Restaurants Gain New Insight into Sales Transactions
The restaurant industry trails other fields in the use of advanced data analytics, but this critical information is likely to be a vital component of restaurants’ resurgence in the post-pandemic era. Cloud-based POS systems help restaurants take advantage of this important resource by automating the process of collecting, analyzing, and reporting on various aspects of the business’s financial picture.
Among the types of sales data contactless POS systems provide to restaurants are the forms of payment their customers prefer, the time and duration of each transaction, the employees who completed the transactions, and whether the sale was to a first-time customer. The reports also let restaurant managers determine which employees are recording the highest number sales and total sales volume, and which are encouraging patrons to take advantage of mobile wallets and other contactless payment technologies.
Minimize Contacts Between Restaurant Employees While Speeding Orders
Think of all the handoffs that occur during a typical restaurant meal:
- Between customers and servers (menus, glasses, plates, credit cards, and cash passing back and forth).
- Between restaurant staff members (order tickets, food and drinks, dishes, utensils, glassware, and kitchenware).
One way to reduce contacts among staff is by using a kitchen display system (KDS) that not only removes several points of contact between servers and kitchen staff but also allows orders to be processed more quickly and accurately. When used in conjunction with wireless POS devices, a KDS helps restaurant managers see at a glance the status of current orders so they can spot and respond quickly to any potential delays.
The productivity-boosting potential of wireless POS devices is complemented by the benefits of wireless and contactless technologies to keep employees and patrons healthy while combating the spread of potentially deadly diseases.
Many of the changes being implemented by restaurants in response to the pandemic will likely be around in some form for many years to come. Fine dining restaurants are ready to face the challenges of the future with solutions that allow them to continue to offer their diners the epitome of epicurean delights. The right POS solution can help ease this transition.
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