What's next for digital ordering solutions?

What’s next for digital ordering solutions?

Are you a restaurant, takeaway, or convenience store owner wondering what the future holds for your industry?

Table service apps became hugely popular during the pandemic, and their growth continued even after restrictions were relaxed. However, as we return to pre-pandemic ways of living and working, many people wonder if these types of ordering solutions are here to stay or whether they were just a short-term measure to make trading possible in challenging times.

What was the industry like pre-pandemic?

The hospitality industry looked very different before March 2020. Booking a table was usually saved for special occasions or nights when a restaurant was expected to be particularly busy. However, when social distancing restrictions placed strict limits on the number of tables in a venue, booking in advance became essential.

Booking a table in advance helps customers manage their evenings and avoids the disappointment of turning up at a restaurant to find there aren’t any tables available. It also helps venues plan how many staff they’ll need on a particular day. Although patrons enjoy the convenience of securing their table days or weeks in advance, they don’t enjoy having to phone up and wait on hold to make their booking request.

Advancements in technology mean diners can now book a table in minutes using their mobile phones. These technological developments have enabled food halls, convenience stores, pubs, and restaurants to implement mobile ordering systems. Giving customers the ability to order without leaving their table when dining in or when ordering take away, customers can order it in advance to be ready for collection.

Pre-pandemic, it was customary to sit at a table and wait for a staff member to take your order. However, mobile ordering solutions eliminate the need for this. Giving the customer the ability to order when they want from their mobile device makes the dining experience faster (enabling more customers to be served) and reduces the number of staff members required.

What changed when the pandemic hit?

Changing rules meant that both consumers and businesses had to adapt quickly to new restrictions. While some businesses had started to roll out online ordering solutions before the pandemic, social distancing measures made these necessary in venues. 

Online ordering reduced contact between staff and customers and eliminated the need for people to handle menus or crowd around a bar to place their orders. Many diners found they preferred this method of ordering as they didn’t have to leave their table and could take more control of their experience. 

Contactless payments were already widely used before the pandemic but became even more popular as they meant customers could avoid touching cash or a pin pad. According to Retail Times, contactless payments between 2019 and pre-pandemic 2020 accounted for 16.8% of spending. Whereas now, they account for 46.7% of spending, which is expected to increase.

QR codes are another feature that you can utilise to make the dining experience more convenient. These were widely used in place of paper menus during the pandemic, and venues have continued to use them. When a customer scans a QR code with their phone, they can browse the menu at their leisure, order food and drinks, and pay immediately. 

Diners no longer have to wait for a member of staff to take their order and provide the bill at the end of the meal. QR codes also benefit businesses as they reduce the pressure on the front-of-house team, especially during busy periods. 

QR codes aren’t the only change that hospitality brought in, which is expected to be adopted long term. Collection and delivery services became essential during the pandemic due to restrictions on opening hospitality venues, and many customers are still choosing these options rather than eating out.

What does the future look like?

QR codes are now expected in most venues and make the dining experience better for customers and businesses. Over the coming years, we predict that apps will become even more sophisticated. For example, the recent emergence of 3D menus gives greater creative control over how you present menu items to diners. 

As a hospitality business, you must keep your technology up to date and maximise the features of your online ordering solutions. Customers now expect more choice and convenience than ever before. Ensuring your digital menu is updated to reflect exciting new dishes and removing out of stock products will make the experience easier and more enjoyable. 

Another important consideration is how easy it is to navigate and use your website and app. Many customers will check out your venue online before their visit, and ensuring that your online presence is fit for purpose will help you attract and retain more customers

Is your business ready for the future?

Technology means that everything moves faster than it used to. Therefore, you must adapt to remain competitive, so we recommend keeping your ordering solution up to date with the latest menu features and brand designs.

We’ve successfully helped businesses, both big and small, implement our digital solution for a low monthly fee. Read more about their experiences here, and book a free demo to see how food2go can help future-proof your business.