Time for Tech Upgrades and Integrations
The COVID-19 pandemic has been extremely difficult for restaurant owners. The National Restaurant Association reports nearly one in six restaurants has closed due to the pandemic. This represents nearly 100,000 U.S. restaurants. Additionally, nearly 3 million restaurant employees remain out of work and the industry is on track to lose $240 billion in sales by the end of 2020.
Many surviving restaurants were forced to make significant changes to their business models by turning to technology to adapt and survive. Online ordering, curbside pickup, drive-through take-out, and delivery services are now available in many establishments that were once dine-in only.
Pivoting Your Business Model
When restaurants were able to re-open for dine-in business—most at limited capacity—owners used innovation to pivot from the way they had once done business. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, restaurant guests were required to touch shared surfaces such as menus, receipts, pens, and credit/debit cards. Guests also had close interaction, sans facial coverings, with seating hosts and wait staff. All of that has changed. Restaurants have significantly modified the way they interact with guests to ensure the safety of their customers and to comply with local or state mandates and restrictions.
Technology has played a powerful role in helping restaurant owners make this move to facilitate a safe experience for their guests. Contactless or touchless modes of operation, along with social distancing, has helped increase the confidence of consumers who want to limit exposure to potential risks when dining out.
Digital Transactions Build Consumer Confidence
Digital transactions have enhanced the customer experience. Point of sale (POS) systems now allow centralized management for online ordering, menu updates, online payments, and delivery or pickup coordination. Using a smartphone to order food is becoming more common. Customers spend more and visit more often when using a phone to order their food. The frequency of customer visits increases by 6 percent and average spending per visit rises by about 20 percent when technology is used to place an order, according to a Deloitte survey.
Contactless payment options not only help keep restaurant employees and their guests safer, but they save the restaurant money once spent on paper receipts, receipt presenters, and pens. The National Restaurant Association reports one-third of consumers have tried contactless payments as a result of the pandemic, and 25% say they’ll continue to use these methods even after social distancing is behind us.
The pandemic has shifted the entire dynamics of the restaurant industry. When restaurants fully re-open, they will not be going back to “business as usual.” They will have undergone a significant and permanent way they operate—with digital transactions at the core.