How the restaurant industry continues to adapt to the pandemic

Contactless pickup and delivery, off-premise offerings rank high among operators’ priorities.
Photograph: Shutterstock

This year’s coronavirus pandemic has forced restaurant operators all over to adapt and shift gears—to alter their business strategies to meet the demands of the time. From online ordering to touch-free delivery, restaurants have had to change the way they work in order to keep their staff and customers safe while supporting their businesses.

While there looks to be a light at the end of the tunnel with a vaccine said to be coming to market soon, there’s still a long road of recovery ahead for restaurants, and operators will need to continue innovating in order to stay ahead of the curve. Two big ways they can do this are to continue offering curbside pickup as well as contactless ordering, delivery and pickup. Here’s how to promote takeout and delivery, to leverage the benefits of contactless service and to strategize for optimal efficiency.

Promoting takeout and delivery options

At the onset of the pandemic, many restaurants made the choice to begin offering takeout and delivery for the first time. But even after the pandemic is over, many consumers may still prefer to order takeout or delivery. In fact, according to Technomic’s 2020 Delivery and Takeout Consumer Trend Report, 66% of consumers anticipate continuing to use curbside pickup after dine-in services resume. This means restaurants should continue promoting these offerings—keep at it with push notifications, direct mail advertisements, social media promotions and more to ensure consumers know the service is still available. By reinvesting in the service that got many restaurants through the pandemic, operators will be able to thrive in the future.

Ensuring safety and encouraging speed

Offering curbside pickup and contactless options helps ensure the safety of both customers and staff alike. Curbside pickup offers consumers the opportunity to order their favorite foods and pick them up without ever coming into contact with any workers. Contactless services, including contactless ordering (online or via an app, for instance) as well as contactless delivery and pickup, also keep staff safe, too. By eliminating touch points between customers and workers, restaurants can limit the spread of germs—a benefit even outside a pandemic. Contactless delivery and pickup can also speed up processes; by eliminating wait times for customers to answer their door when receiving a delivery or the time it takes to fetch an order from the kitchen for pickup, restaurants streamline services and get food out faster. Restaurants looking for help with contactless ordering options can contact NCR for help setting up the proper technology.

Overcoming logistical challenges

Restaurants that offer takeout and delivery already know that it can be a logistical mess trying to get orders out to the right people at the right times. That’s why being able to use technology to streamline orders is so crucial—pandemic or not. Using specialized technology to sort orders by when they’re placed or by when they’ll be picked up can help minimize the number of people crowding in a restaurant’s entryway and can also ensure that the right order is handed off or set aside. This, in turn, helps boost customer satisfaction via ensuring order accuracy. Offering online ordering technology can be beneficial for streamlining orders and pickup—this helps eliminate customers crowding at the cash register or near the host’s stand as they look at the menu.

Using technology to adapt

Amid this year’s near-constant challenges, technology has been made available to help streamline processes such as online ordering and contactless pickup. To learn more about how NCR can help restaurants succeed, visit ncr.com/restaurants today.

This post is sponsored by NCR


Exclusive Content


Restaurants have a hot opportunity to improve their reputation as employers

Reality Check: New mandates for protecting workers from dangerous on-the-job heat are about to be dropped on restaurants and other employers. The industry could greatly help its labor plight by acting first.


Some McDonald's customers are doubling up on the discounts

The Bottom Line: In some markets, customers can get the fast-food chain's $5 value meal for $4. The situation illustrates a key rule in the restaurant business: Customers are savvy and will find loopholes.


Ignore the Red Lobster problem. Sale-leasebacks are not all that bad

The decade-old sale-leaseback at the seafood chain has raised questions about the practice. But experts say it remains a legitimate financing option for operators when done correctly.