Not long ago, drive-thru windows were the sole province of fast-food restaurants and quick-serve coffee shops. Not anymore. Even before the pandemic struck, restaurants of all types were exploring ways to serve their customers outside the dining room. In the post-COVID era, mobility is the name of the game for all types of restaurants.
Mobile point of sale systems provide restaurants with the functions they need to extend their services beyond their four walls. QSR Magazine’s 2020 drive-thru study found that drive-through services, curbside pickup, delivery, and other “off premises” operations have kept restaurants afloat during this long period of restricted indoor dining. These same operations, all made possible by mobile POS systems, will transform the industry well into the future.
Now is the perfect time for restaurants to reevaluate their current POS systems and consider whether it offers the functionality required to support drive-through operations and other mobile activities, including pop-up restaurants, food trucks, and other offsite opportunities. Here’s a rundown of the features to look for in a mobile point of sale system for a restaurant’s drive-thru and other external sales efforts.
How Cloud Technology Makes Mobile POS Practical, Affordable
Conventional POS systems don’t travel well. That’s why the first consideration when planning a mobile POS system for your restaurant is whether it’s cloud-based. Only a cloud-centric POS solution delivers the adaptability, speed, convenience, and security that you and your customers need to interact via drive-thru and other outside venues. These are the key mobility capabilities built into modern cloud-based POS systems.
- Intuitive ordering: Your restaurant’s customer-facing kiosk, mobile app, and website become the face of your operation. They must be easy to use, especially for clients who aren’t tech-savvy. But more importantly, they need to reflect the welcoming and friendliness that you and your staff express when you interact with customers in person. For example, many mobile POS systems for drive-thrus are adding descriptions of customers’ vehicles to ensure orders are delivered accurately.
- Flexible payment options: Contactless payments have taken the restaurant and retail industries by storm as part of the effort to keep customers and employees safe. Mobile point of sale systems support a range of payment alternatives including cards equipped with Near Field Communication (NFC) chips and mobile wallets such as Apple Pay and Google Pay. They also allow customers to pay with cash, online, or over the phone.
- Support for mobile devices and apps: The same POS technology that allows servers in a restaurant to place orders and accept payment tableside can be extended to support the restaurant’s drive-thru and other external operations. However, it’s important to choose a POS vendor who possesses the experience and knowledge to craft a mobile solution that is tailored to your business’s unique needs.
The Features to Look for in a Mobile POS App for Drive-Thrus
The most efficient approach to mobile POS for restaurants is to use a full-featured POS app running on a smartphone or tablet and connected to a mobile card reader. The app allows servers to take orders and process transactions from any location with network coverage. The programs generate digital receipts that can be sent to customers via text or email, or they can link wirelessly to a portable receipt printer.
Going mobile doesn’t mean you have to do without any of the important POS functions your business relies on. Mobile point of sale systems let you split bills, change orders, and collect information about your customers just as traditional POS setups do. The systems provide end-to-end encryption and authentication technologies to ensure the security of transactions.
Perhaps the greatest benefit of mobile POS systems for restaurants is how they enhance the dining experience for customers, whether they’re dining on the premises, picking up their orders via drive-thru or curbside pickup, or having their meals delivered. The technology is so clear and intuitive that diners can focus on enjoying their meal, which is the best way for a restaurant to gain a loyal, long-term following and benefit from positive word of mouth.
Drive-Thru Scenarios: 4 Key Questions to Answer
The potential of a drive-through window to boost a restaurant’s bottom line can be thwarted by improper implementation. The last thing you want to do is leave your drive-thru customers scratching their heads as they try to place their order or tapping their toes as they wait for it to be delivered. Answering these four questions about drive-through contactless operations will help ensure a smooth order-and-go process.
- Will your menus need to be made mobile-friendly? Whether they’re ordering via your mobile app, website, or a self-service kiosk, your customers must be able to make their menu selections quickly and clearly. This may require simplifying some aspects of the menu, such as requesting changes to meet dietary requirements, and presenting daily specials in a clear but unobtrusive way.
- How will the meals be delivered to drive-thru customers? The drive-through window has become a ubiquitous sight at most quick-serve establishments, but many restaurants are implementing windowless drive through by designating certain areas of their parking lots for drive-up service. Regardless of the drive-through setup, the key is to deliver meals to customers as quickly as possible to keep hot food hot and cold food cold.
- Which payment options will be available to drive-thru customers? Despite the growing popularity of contactless credit cards and mobile wallets, some restaurant patrons will prefer to pay in cash, while others will take advantage of online payments and payments by phone. The mobile POS system needs to accommodate a range of payment options to meet the preferences of your customers.
- Is your kitchen prepared to complete orders at drive-thru speed? For many restaurants, the shift to drive-thru will require rethinking their bill of fare because not all menu items can be prepared fast enough to prevent backlogs. Often this entails focusing on the restaurant’s most popular dishes and those that share a great number of ingredients. It may also be necessary to simplify kitchen processes so that fewer kitchen staffers are required to complete each order.
The restaurant industry is changing rapidly due to a confluence of forces. Technological innovation, pandemic-related restrictions, and evolving customer preferences are converging in ways that will permanently alter the dining landscape. Staying ahead of the changes requires working with a POS partner who can steer you around the pitfalls and prepare you to capitalize on tomorrow’s opportunities.
In a period of change, talech has a number of mobile POS solutions that can help your restaurant 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.
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