Progress and innovation offer a safe path through difficult times, and one thing is certain when it comes to the food and beverage industry: difficult times are upon us. There isn't a single precipitating factor that's caused the turmoil, however.
Instead, a chorus of factors has placed the restaurant industry in a precarious position between a rock and a hard place. The advent of COVID-19. Historical supply chain disruption. Costly labor shortages impacting more than 71% of all eateries in the United States. The answer? Technological innovations such as contactless ordering and payment.
Despite the impact these factors have had on the food, beverage, and hospitality sector, many restaurants have managed to remain competitive. Some have even managed to thrive, outpacing their competition.
Let’s take a look at the food and beverage industry in the post-COVID world with a special focus on the ways in which savvy business owners have effectively used technology to maintain a competitive market advantage.
The Decline of COVID-19: Contactless Ordering and Payment
In March of 2020, COVID-19 came along and upended the world as we know it. There might not be one single factor that led the restaurant business to its current inflection point, but understanding COVID's impact is a great start.
Lockdowns, quarantines and sweeping social distancing measures made in-person dining a thing of the past in 2020. Some smaller businesses were forced to close up shop having been deprived of their solvency. Others read the shifting tides more accurately and managed a quick pivot. They transitioned their business to takeout only, with a heavy reliance on internet-based transactions. Thus, contactless ordering and payment rose to essential status.
Other issues compounded COVID effects. Due to pandemic-era shutdowns the global supply chain ground to a halt. Socio-political tensions began to rise worldwide. As if to cap it all off, workers left their jobs en masse during 2021 in a move that economists have dubbed "The Great Resignation."
But the world is changing once again. Humanity has a firmer grasp on the COVID-19 pandemic. While supply chain issues may persist for a while, global logistics is a definitive work in progress. And people are once again returning to the workforce. One thing has remained constant through all the shifts though: the popularity of contactless ordering and payment.
Related: Benefits of Setting up QR Code Menus
Contactless Ordering: Essential for Success
Society's acceptance of contactless ordering and payment methods has persisted in changing times. In fact, contactless ordering and payment methods are surging, and not just in the food and beverage industry.
According to PR Newswire, a staggering 73% of all people worldwide apply the same standards to the hotel industry. They want minimal contact with service staff. Instead, they favor contactless ordering and payment options that can be controlled from the ease of their phone or mobile device.
There's just something about ease, convenience, and the intersection of technological advancement baked right into our collective DNA. Consumers crave a frictionless experience, and it shows. According to Event Industry News, 58% of consumers have expressed a willingness to spend more on food items as long as they don't have to deal with the hassle of waiting in line.
Regardless of the pandemic, the general population has embraced contactless ordering and payments to a high degree. A majority of consumers (55%) fully expect frictionless payment options to persist long after COVID's end. Therefore, contactless ordering and payment is no longer a fun, optional feature; it is an industry standard. In order to maintain a competitive edge in an already competitive field, establishments will have to embrace updated technology —or suffer from a loss of revenue.
Fortunately, setting up contactless ordering and payment via technology like scannable QR codes is an easy process filled to the brim with benefits. In the following section, we'll discuss those benefits in greater detail.
Related: How to Keep Customers Coming Back to Your Restaurant
Benefits of Contactless Ordering
Technology, like scannable QR code menus, has become a mainstay in the restaurant industry. Every business, from the smallest cafe, bistro, and coffee shop to the largest QSR franchise has begun implementing contactless ordering options. This simple application of existing tech carried the industry through the pandemic, and it promises to be an integral part of restaurant operations for years to come.
But what makes QR code menus, and adjacent technology such as standalone kiosks, such a powerful and long-term solution? Below is a cross-section of the advantages that frictionless payment methods bring to the table both in terms of the customer and your business.
It Improves the Customer Experience
Contactless ordering and payment are central to the modern customer experience. Here's a quick primer on scannable QR code menu usage.
QR codes are an alternative style barcode capable of holding a wide range of information. QR codes have a very distinct look. They are square rather rectangular like traditional barcodes, and often feature arrangements as well as smaller squares in each corner.
Unlike traditional barcodes, however, QR codes can fit a huge amount of diverse information such as web links and image-rich media. In short, QR codes are a powerful tool, especially when it comes to the customer experience.
Restaurants and similar venues have found a unique way to purpose QR codes. They use QR codes to connect to their full menu, accompanied by images of their entrees. Using this technology, customers can place orders, schedule pick up or delivery, and pay, all in one interaction.
This allows customers to control the pace of the meal by ordering and paying when they want without needing extra attention from the waitstaff.
They Build Long-Term Customer Engagement While Shifting the Role of the Waitstaff
What happens when you listen to your customer base and place them at the center of your operational blueprint? Repeat business, that's what.
Eating out at a restaurant is as much about being social as it is about great food. Unfortunately, procedural aspects can get in the way. Typical interactions between customers and waitstaff are necessary at their best, and distracting at their worst. Putting agency back into the customers' hands helps to create long-term engagement while simultaneously freeing up your waitstaff for more meaningful interactions.
It Improves Safety and Hygiene
In this post-COVID economy, hygiene is the name of the game. Customer safety and security have to come first in order to drive business into your dining room. Infection rates may be on the decline, but people all over the world remain cautious.
It's up to you as the business owner to assure customers that your establishment is up to par with all health and safety regulations. Contactless menus and payment methods are a great way to demonstrate your commitment to customer health.
It Decreases the Potential for Order Errors
Let's face it: your servers are busy. It's a hectic job that requires excellent time management coupled with people skills, all delivered at a breakneck pace. Your wait staff has to balance a million things all at once. Mistakes can —and will— happen.
Even the best-run establishment suffers from order errors. They are frustrating to both the customer, the server, and the kitchen staff. Should an incorrect order be delivered to the customer's table, it is costly and time-consuming to rectify the issue. Frictionless ordering and payment can help.
By using a contactless method such as QR code menus, you place the burden of ordering on the customer rather than the waitstaff. In turn, you reduce order errors while simultaneously improving your venue's operational efficiency.
It Syncs with Your In-House Tech Stack
We already know that well-built contactless ordering methods, such as visual QR code menus, can be synced with your existing point-of-sale (POS) system in order to enable customer payments directly from the menu itself. This speaks to a superior customer experience, but it also helps to streamline your establishment's operational efficiency. There's a deeper benefit to contactless menu integration, however.
Frictionless menus also sync with your existing customer relationship manager (CRM). Every time a customer scans your venue's QR code, you gain a wealth of information, from demographic information to purchasing trends and spending habits. By syncing with your backend tech, you can develop targeted promotions and robust loyalty programs designed to drive business directly through your doors.
Reaping the Benefits of Contactless Ordering and Payment Methods
Restaurants and other food establishments that have shifted their strategies to accommodate emerging tech have been able to remain competitive in uncertain times. Those who have not yet considered contactless ordering methods may find themselves playing catch up.
Contactless ordering via QR codes have become an integral part of the restaurant industry. If you are looking to make the leap to QR code menus, Mr Yum can help. Contact us today to get started.