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Yes, move on from COVID, but don’t move on from digital dining 

When brands were mandated to close their dining rooms to guests in 2020, many took up digital ordering (online or mobile app) to facilitate off-premise ordering. This technology enabled to them to keep revenue streams open and maintain direct customer communication.  

Within weeks online and mobile ordering was propelled into the spotlight and marked as a lifeline for businesses – letting brands take orders, space out collection times and facilitate payment without any need for person-to-person contact. Using it, staff levels could be kept minimal, and money saved on utilities, while cash flowing through the platforms kept operators afloat. 

It’s not too strong to say that digital ordering proved essential for some business’ survival in the last year. That won’t be forgotten by brands or customers, indeed, for many consumers the technology has become habitual. When thinking about ordering food for take-out, they now reach for their mobiles rather than ordering via a call. That said, there will be brands that notice a drop in off-premises ordering as dining rooms reopen. It’s natural, especially if the style of food being served doesn’t travel well or is best served as part of a silver service.  

An understandable reaction in cases like this might be to move on from COVID by relinquishing digital ordering and return to traditional ordering, but is that really the best response?  

One important thing about a platform like QikOrder is that it can be adapted to meet different customer needs and facilitate different journeys. For example, it can be used to provide guests with an on-premises order-to-table journey in addition to, or instead of, off-premises (order ahead/delivery). The former of these, order-to-table, is ideal for any brand that wants to bring customers back inside and allay their concerns about safety. Not only is it a cost-efficient way to run a dining room, but it is also less labour-intensive meaning, if necessary, you can manage with less staff on service. At a time when the industry is suffering a major shortage of workers, this can be a significant relief.  

The goal of increasing the operational efficiency is paramount for brands right now. Unfortunately, there are some heavy outlays lined up for restaurants and food operators in the latter half of 2021. From postponed rents to furlough payments and the upcoming VAT increases, food operators can expect above average outlay in coming months. The pressure is on to turn tables faster and run as profitably as possible. On-premises digital ordering and payment might be the key to achieving this. Whether it’s kiosk ordering, order-to-table (where the customer orders from their own mobile device without the need for a server) or pay-at-table (where servers take orders, but the bill is accessed and paid via the customer’s mobile device), on-premises reduces the number of servers needed on a dining room floor. It negates waiting times and leads to faster table turn. What’s more, because guests have been proven to spend more via digital platforms, it results in stronger customer revenue streams. 

It’s the route many are taking, switching to or adding on-premises into their service mix. The Chesterford Group, Center Parcs and TGI Friday’s have all added the solution to their digital mix. While not every customer will choose to take up digital ordering (unless mandated), it’s having the choice that they appreciate most. Indeed, the new ‘tradigital’ QikOrder open tab solution was built exactly for that purpose. You can read more about it – here – but in short, it allows guests to mix-and-match their experience, taking as much of a digital or traditional service route as they like.  

We’re heading in the right direction to enable lockdown to end and hopefully it won’t return. We all want to move on from COVID. Nonetheless, we are now in a food and hospitality industry that has changed forever. The way brands operate, and the way guests want to experience food and drink has evolved during the pandemic. Reverting to a pure, traditional, service doesn’t take the evolved guest persona into account. Nor does it pay credence to the many benefits off- and on-premise dining can and will bring to businesses in the months and years to come. 

Contact QikServe today if you’re ready to get an on-premise ordering service up and running. 

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