Please note that this article is intended for educational purposes only and should not be deemed to be or used as legal or health & safety advice. For guidance or advice specific to your business, consult with a qualified professional.
Contactless ordering has kept restaurant staff and customers safer in the COVID-19 era. It may be able to reduce the risk of infection by limiting the number of surfaces people touch. But a QR code ordering system can also help your restaurant business save money, build loyalty and increase efficiency long after COVID-19.
Read on to discover how contact-free ordering works, the many benefits on offer and the steps you can take to put an effective system in place.
What is contactless ordering?
Contactless ordering pushes restaurant dining into the digital age. It allows your customers to view your menu, select a meal and pay through a smartphone or touchscreen monitor, significantly reducing the time spent talking to waiters and bar staff.
The COVID-19 pandemic has made contactless dining a must-have for forward-thinking restaurants, as it limits face-to-face contact and the touching of shared surfaces. QR code ordering systems and self-serve kiosks are the most common examples.
How to create a contactless ordering experience
You’ll need to set up an integrated point-of-sale (POS) system to start benefiting from contactless ordering.
An integrated POS like Square’s allows you to automatically link up various financial and customer service processes within your business. While accepting payments, it can also update your inventory and transaction records every time an order is made.
Crucially, these systems can also connect with contactless ordering tools – this means staff won’t need to write down orders or take payments.
Introducing a QR code ordering system
QR code restaurant ordering has surged in popularity since the pandemic struck. Quick Response codes are barcodes that take people to a specific website or app when scanned by their smartphone.
For self-serve ordering in a restaurant, customers can simply hover their phone over a QR code on their table, then follow a link to your menu.
Create an online menu
Creating a paperless menu using services such as Square Online can stop the spread of germs and saves on printing costs. So, what should a digital menu contain?
- Clearly defined categories so diners can easily find different items – starters, main courses and desserts, for example.
- Photos and descriptions of your dishes to show customers what they’re ordering. This may include information about allergies and meat content.
- The ability to tailor meals to individual diners. This could include side-order or condiment options, and opportunities to upgrade.
- An eye-catching design that’s easy to read and navigate.
Generate QR codes for your menu
Once your online menu is ready, it’s time to connect it to a QR code.
You can generate a bespoke code that’ll instantly take your diners to your online menu once it’s scanned by their phone. Print copies out and place them on each table.
Integrate contactless payments
The phrase ‘contactless payments’ may bring to mind a card reader that you tap instead of entering a PIN into. But payments in a contactless ordering system are card-free.
Customers enter their payment details into their smartphone after choosing their food through your online menu. Then, thanks to the integrated POS system, the payment is automatically processed and logged.
Contactless kitchen set-up
The final step in creating a QR code ordering system involves the kitchen. Your integrated POS will automatically send order information to kitchen staff once payment has been accepted. Specialist POS hardware and kitchen display systems can be installed to show chefs incoming orders.
The benefits of contactless QR code ordering
Setting up a contactless ordering system with QR codes offers many advantages, including:
A safer customer experience
COVID-19 has forced restaurants to think creatively about how they can more safely serve customers. The Government advised restaurants, pubs and bars to clean more regularly and promote social distancing to slow the spread of the virus.
QR code restaurant ordering plays a big part in this by reducing face-to-face interactions and contact with shared surfaces. The pandemic is only likely to increase your customers’ hygiene awareness going forward, so contactless ordering will help future-proof your restaurant.
Online menus linked to QR codes allow people to order food at their own pace – with no need to hang around for waiters during busy periods. Shorter waiting times could also enhance your restaurant’s reputation.
Removing staff from the ordering and payment process frees them up for other duties. This could include extra time spent keeping your facilities clean.
Taking waiting staff out of the equation also lowers the risk of human error. Diners won’t end up with the wrong food because a staff member has written down an incorrect item.
Just think how many times you must reprint your menu to reflect new dishes, special offers, or due to wear and tear. Online menus can be updated instantly to even include things like daily specials – ending the need for costly printing.
As a bonus, it’ll make your restaurant more sustainable as you’ll be saving reams of paper each year.
Building customer loyalty
A QR code system can encourage customers to return to your restaurant time and again. You can save their details and order preferences for their next visit and use this information in your customer relationship management. It could even inspire tailored reward schemes and discounts.
Boosting your income
An online menu can offer add-ons and bundle deals to customers as they navigate around it, quickly generating extra income.
Embracing a digital future
From faster payments and better hygiene to more efficient staff members, setting up a contactless ordering system will instantly push your restaurant business to the front of the digital race. When it comes to safety, sustainability and productivity, it’s a win-win for both your customers and employees.
With the help of Square’s integrated POS system, you could even branch out further into takeaway orders – offering click-and-collect services to your hungry customers when they’re at home.