Building a Contactless Restaurant Solution: COVID-19 and Beyond.
Many quick-service restaurants are witnessing heightened demand in delivery and takeout, with even more restaurants experiencing a severe decline in sales. Some have closed for good. In the United States, the COVID-19 pandemic forced most states to close their restaurants to dine-in service. As a result, many restaurants switched to off-premise strategies and contactless solutions to survive, including QR Codes and NFC (Near Field Communication) tags. These contactless restaurant solutions offer safety for customers and will become essential in preserving that feeling when we fully reopen.
Fast-casual and quick-service restaurants have adapted rather quickly because of their existing off-premise functionalities — takeout, drive-through, and delivery. Full-service restaurants have had to implement more creatively to reinvent their dining experience, creating contactless setups (like QR Codes and embedding NFC tags) to curb the spread of the virus.
Safety assurance and hygiene are the top factors in guest satisfaction; consumers report, based on recent customer surveys, that diners rank safety assurance and sanitation as top factors when they choose a dine-in restaurant. Also, 8 out of 10 customers in Vietnam, Australia, and China said they’d prefer if restaurants were transparent. Here’s our guide to creating a contactless restaurant solution.
Switch to Contactless Technologies
Restaurants and takeout kiosks must have an open platform that reveals their hygiene and safety practices to their customers. QR Codes and NFC can help restaurants project that transparency.
Some Ways You Can Implement Contactless Technologies are:
- Placing QR Codes at self-service food counters so customers can easily see your step-by-step safety practices (as instructed by WHO). These can include your regular staff temperature checks, sanitization routines, and more. Some food delivery companies, like DoorDash, have step-by-step safety instructions with real-time updates about the staff who prepare the food!
- Accepting contactless payments via QR Codes or NFC tags. These technologies minimize human contact, and according to some sources, the number of hands through which most currency passes present an evident concern in customers’ minds. Contactless payments reduce this fear.
- Switching to curbside delivery and takeout in place of in-person pick-ups. By structuring your off-premise system this way, you and your staff avoid direct contact with customers.
- Using integrated restaurant technology. When the front and back-of-house integrate with your point-of-sale, facilitating a contactless workflow is a breeze. Your kitchen staff can receive order information as it comes, directly pushed to their KDS. Furthermore, smart integrations allow your front-of-house team to send status updates directly to the kitchen without going back there and contacting anyone.
- Collect hygiene ratings from your customers. If your restaurant has an app, see if you can collect ratings that way. You can also employ QR Codes at visible locations so customers can leave a score based on your services.
Remember that your customers are more likely to dine-in or order from a restaurant that’s transparent about its sanitization process and adheres to FDA regulations.
Search Trends and Anticipation
According to Google Search Trends, people are anxiously ready for their favorite places, especially dine-in restaurants, to reopen. Searches for the term “When will dine-in restaurants reopen?” have peaked ever since the pandemic and the government announcing a phased reopening post-lockdown.
Restaurants and eateries can’t function as they did before, though; Those that follow social distancing, stick to safety standards, and equip themselves with the right gear for safe operations will appeal more to guests than restaurants who don’t.
Leverage Kiosks, QR Codes and NFC Tags for Smooth and Safe Operations
Zero-touch solutions like QR Codes and NFC tags allow customers to complete orders safely and efficiently, curbing the spread of the virus. Eateries and restaurants should redesign their spaces to adjust to the new normal.
- Contactless QR Code forms at the entrance encourage customers to scan the QR Code to fill in their recent travel details and health status. From here, you can filter high-risk customers.
- Contactless QR Code menus eliminate physical menus to limit the spread of the infection. Customers can scan the QR Code to view the restaurant’s digital menu.
Kiosks and contactless dining provide four main benefits because they:
- Increase revenue through add-on sales.
- Reduce operational costs.
- Enhance the customer experience.
- Eliminate contact between guests and staff, which facilitates more safety.
Contactless takeout and deliveries with QR Codes and NFC tags have also proven successful. Self-ordering kiosks and contactless dining will be a consistent staple for restaurants and eateries post-COVID. If you’re squeamish about touching surfaces, anti-microbial screen covers (discussed later) are a solution.
Personnel-Facing Contactless Restaurant Technology
While it’s crucial to keep customers safe, it’s equally important to keep the staff safe. There is an equal number of issues that have to be addressed for employees to feel comfortable about returning to their jobs. Your team will also expect a higher level of protection and assurance of safety measures to provide excellent customer service.
- Make regular use of gloves, masks, sanitizers, and touchless temperature-checking devices to protect the staff.
- Distribute QR Codes to employees to scan and log their punch-in details and store their data in a cloud.
- Employ QR Codes or an NFC tag as a biometric identifier.
- Use single-use or disposable products to maintain higher levels of security.
- Utilize anti-microbial touch screen covers for your POS and kiosks.
Employees and customers interact with the POS hardware and takeout counters during the ordinary course of their business day. Many people use surfaces like a POS touchscreen or a KDS expeditor daily. Though the correlation between COVID-19 infections and surface contact is tenuous, it will put your guests and staff at ease.
Employers need to develop a suitable solution that keeps everyone around safe. QR Codes and NFC tags provide a quick solution for such a problem. Since they’re touchless, employees won’t come in contact with any screens. To take it a step further, you might embed a QR Code at the employee kiosk to scan, then log in to find out the number of attendances, daily visits, and inventory management all in one place.
Contactless Restaurant Technology Will Be The Post-Pandemic Norm
Popular restaurants such as Curry Up, KFC, and Subway are already contactless by deploying QR Codes and NFC for their operations. Contactless dining is the need of the hour for all the safety the technology promotes. The technology ensures cleanliness, social distancing, and saves necessary restaurant costs.
Restaurants can sail through COVID and have a smooth reopening by following the necessary protocols. These protocols include adhering to food, safety and hygiene standards, and providing service that’s as contactless as possible.
How has the pandemic altered your course? Click the link below for our page containing helpful restaurant resources for the COVID-19 outbreak.
About the Author
Apoorva Hegde is a Content Marketer at MobStac. Apart from writing articles and blog posts related to QR Codes, she enjoys simple pleasures of life like going on long walks with her dog, eating carbs all day, and falling into a Netflix watch-loop.