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Consumer Trends

Improve on- and off-premise service with contactless order pickup

Photograph: Shutterstock

In recent months, off-premise dining has become the predominant way—if not the only way—that many restaurants have been fulfilling orders. As many restaurants open up their dining rooms, however, operators face a pressing question: How can they balance the dine-in revival while maintaining the off-premises business they’ve likely built up over the last few months?

According to Technomic’s June 2020 report, How COVID-19 is Transforming Consumer Foodservice Behavior, most consumers will continue to choose off-premise dining, even as on-premise becomes an option. Once all stay-at-home orders are lifted, 52% of consumers say they’re likely to continue ordering takeout from a restaurant, and 44% say they’re likely to use delivery. And, regardless of how they dine, health and safety continue to be consumers’ top priorities, with high-touch areas and contact with employees and other diners being of particular concern.

Tuning up takeout

Given that takeout is a top choice for restaurant consumers, and that contact with shared surfaces and other people are among customers’ biggest concerns, restaurants should strongly consider an automated, self-serve, contactless solution for pickup.

Many operators, however, use pickup systems that are counterintuitive in meeting consumers’ increased standards for health and safety. Some operators leave takeout orders on a table or shelf inside the restaurant where consumers will need to sort through other customers’ orders to find their own. Some offer curbside service without implementing a streamlined system for doing so, having employees fulfill orders by handing them off face-to-face or even by setting orders on the sidewalk by the customer’s car.

A contactless pickup system is a simple way to provide the safe, fast, accurate service consumers are looking for. Pickup lockers from Apex Supply Technologies, for example, enable restaurant staff to leave takeout orders in a secure compartment until the customer arrives. To retrieve their order, a customer can scan a unique code received via text or push notification to find and access their meal. This removes the human-to-human element in an employee handing off an order to a customer, the need for customers to touch other diners’ orders and the possibility of a customer leaving with the wrong meal.

Go contactless to improve both off- and on-premise dining

An Apex locker empowers restaurants to provide better service all around—even to on-premise diners.

According to results of a poll by Apex, reducing indoor traffic, long lines and crowding in the restaurant lobby is the biggest benefit to implementing a contactless solution. A crowded lobby is not only a health risk, it can also make potential on-premise diners assume that a restaurant is too busy and that there will likely be a long wait before they are seated—and they may even leave the restaurant as a result.

Instead of requiring off-premise diners to congregate in the lobby, a pickup locker allows them to wait until they’ve been notified that their order is ready. Then, they can go directly to the locker without spending any time waiting indoors. This feature streamlines pickup for both customers and third-party delivery services; they can simply wait in their cars until the notification comes through, keeping the lobby free for on-premise diners.

To learn more about how Apex can help operators provide excellent service—both now and post-pandemic—visit apexsupplychain.com.

This post is sponsored by Apex Order Pickup Solutions