The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have impacted the restaurant and food service industry dramatically. The pandemic has forced restaurant owners and operators to adapt, pivot, and move quickly to keep up with government regulations and consumer expectations. One of the ways business owners have done this is through embracing contactless dining technology.
What is Contactless Dining Technology?
Contactless dining technology refers to a dining experience that limits physical contact with the restaurant’s staff, surfaces, menus, and so on. This means that diners can view a menu, and order and pay for a meal directly from their smartphones.
A contactless experience has become a necessity as research shows that 57% of consumers say they are more likely to do business with those who offer a contactless payment option. Not only is this a faster way to order and pay, but limiting physical contact is also a genuine desire of diners.
With restaurants jumping on the bandwagon of contactless dining technology, it doesn’t appear to be going away anytime soon. In fact, Gartner predicts that 80% of all ordering, payment, and checkout services will be contactless by 2024. So beyond safety in a post-pandemic recovery, what are the benefits of adopting a contactless dining solution for restaurants? Here are 5 proven outcomes of using contactless dining technology:
1. Increase Operational Efficiency
By definition, operational efficiency is the metric that measures the efficiency of profit earned as a function of operational costs. For restaurants, there tend to be three main operating costs:
- Labor costs
- Food costs
- Rent/lease costs
So, when we talk about operational efficiency, it’s a matter of how efficiently costs are producing profit, and the relationship between those costs and profits.
Arguably one of the most important restaurant metrics is table turnover, which is directly correlated to operating costs and efficiency. The faster you can turn tables, the more tables you can seat, and the more products you can sell. Contactless dining technology can greatly increase table turnover times through increased staff and labor efficiency.
Some of the most time-consuming aspects of an employee’s shift are collecting orders, punching them into a POS, and then splitting the bill manually. With a contactless dining solution, guests can send orders directly to a chit printer or kitchen display system (KDS), then split the bill amongst the table whenever they’re ready to settle up. This entire process eliminates some low value steps for staff and is almost guaranteed to shave off a few minutes per table – which adds up.
2. Increased Customer Satisfaction
One myth about contactless dining technology is that it will take away from the hospitality and service aspect of dining at a restaurant. This is false! In fact, in the State of The Industry Webinar led by the National Restaurant Association revealed that, “52% of Americans want restaurants to use technology to make ordering and payment easier.”
Contactless dining leads to increased customer satisfaction because it speeds up the entire process of ordering and payment, while giving the customer more control and autonomy over their orders. With contactless ordering, the diner can be confident that exactly what they ordered is exactly what the back-of-the-house prepares. This can include special instructions, add-ons, dietary preferences, or allergies.
The end result? A better, faster service that leaves guests satisfied and happy with their experience.
Star Micronics Restaurant Solutions
Star proudly provides a variety of POS hardware for the modern restaurateur, including receipt and label printers for online ordering, cash drawers, tablet stands, and more.
3. Increased Average Check Size
Although contactless ordering and payment for restaurants is relatively new, the concept and logic behind it makes sense. Take e-commerce for example; about 35% of Amazon’s e-commerce revenue comes from “suggested for you” items and add-ons. The same is true for restaurants. Restaurants that adopt contactless technology will be able to leverage the same trend and capitalize on this type of buying behavior. While it may not be to the tune of 35%, initial modeling from contactless dining providers have noted an an increase in average check size by about 12%.
For example, a $10 cheeseburger can easily become a $14 cheeseburger when given the option to add bacon and sauteed mushrooms, at $2 apiece.
This is just the beginning of how complex and smart digital menus can be. It’s even possible to have suggested food and drink pairings. While this can again drive revenue, it also supports the diner’s positive experience by guiding their decision-making process with the best possible outcome.
4. Environmental Impact, Opportunities, and Saved Costs
Not only does contactless dining technology help drive sales and increase efficiency, it’s also extremely environmentally friendly. Especially with the onset of COVID-19 and the increased usage of single-use menus, a digital menu can save thousands of dollars a year on printing costs while saving the trees. Generally, one tree produces about 8,333 pieces of generic A4 paper – when you think of all the single-use paper menus, that’s a lot of trees!
On the other hand, consumers are looking for ways to be more environmentally friendly and support businesses that are environmentally conscious. One study showed that Americans are willing to pay up to 36% more for ethically sourced and produced foods. Using a digital menu makes it very easy to highlight your food sources and maybe even justify a higher price tag. At the very least, restaurants can test this, without spending money on re-printing menus.
5. Menu Optimization Opportunities
Perhaps the most exciting opportunity of a contactless dining experience is the ability to continually test and optimize your menu in real time. No more spending hundreds (or thousands) of dollars on reprinting menus, changing prices, and adding and removing items.
By using a contactless digital menu and ordering system, restaurant owners can make changes and run tests in real time, meaning they can finetune a menu for maximum revenue on the fly. Some examples are:
- Finding the price elasticity of demand for your items: Find out exactly how much the average diner is willing to pay for a specific item, drink, or add-on. Having the ability to adjust prices in real time based on time of day, weather, and other factors presents a huge opportunity for restaurants to drive revenue.
- Test images: Items with images next to them on a digital or mobile menu have been shown to sell 5% more than items without an image. Understanding this gives restaurant operators the ability to test different imagery for items and conclude which type of image results in the most purchases. Of course, this can be done in tandem with testing prices, naming conventions, item descriptions, and add-ons.
- Testing item placement: In general, restaurants should have one high-margin, high sales volume item per section on their menu. On a traditional menu, these items should be highlighted at the top-center of any given page. But on a digital menu, restaurateurs can adjust and test where items appear on the menu. One advantage of this is testing where high-margin but low sales volume items appear. Perhaps your restaurant has a dish that’s highly profitable, but just doesn’t sell that often. Restaurants are now able to experiment with the price, imagery, and placement of these items to try to increase the sales volume.
The opportunities are truly endless, and restaurant operators can get as granular or as broad as they see fit.
OrderUp Contactless Dining Technology
Contactless dining is here to stay. Restaurants who choose to invest the time into developing a contactless dining experience put themselves in a position to impact revenue, customer satisfaction, and operational efficiency, all while making an effort to be more environmentally conscious. Even if your restaurant likes to do things “the old-fashioned way,” it’s always a good idea to have a contactless option for guests who have safety concerns or demographics that are more accustomed to contactless ordering and payment.
There are several services that provide contactless dining solutions such as OrderUp. OrderUp is a completely free platform that provides digital menus, and contactless order and pay, among other services such as email collection. They have an easy-to-use menu builder that allows restaurants to make changes in real time, all while reaping the many other benefits of contactless dining.