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Technology

Important technologies for off-premise dining

Photograph courtesy of McCain Foods

In 2020, restaurants saw unprecedented numbers of off-premise orders. Dining room closures and stay-at-home orders meant consumers were eating at home a lot more—but they still wanted their favorite meals. But as digital demands surged, many restaurants found themselves knee-deep in trying to sort out what technologies would make the process easier. From apps that saved customers’ repeat orders to digital payment and beyond, technology was key for streamlining off-premise orders—and will continue to be. Here’s what restaurants should make sure they have in place.

Digital ordering and payment options

Consumers want a high-quality experience when they order takeout or delivery. And that experience starts when they order, not just when they get the food. Digital ordering and payment options are critical. According to Technomic’s Ignite Consumer Brand Metrics, more consumers in 2020 than in 2019 said it was important or very important for a restaurant to offer digital payment options—with younger consumers leading the charge. In 2019, nearly half of millennials and Gen Z consumers—46%—said digital payment options were important when choosing a restaurant, and that number jumped to 61% in 2020. For digital ordering, 43% of millennials and Gen Z said it was important in 2019, compared to 57% in 2020.

For operators, that means it’s no longer just an option or a bonus to offer digital ordering and payment capability; for many consumers, it’s a non-negotiable.

Up-to-the-minute menu updates

Of course, the high-quality experience consumers are looking for includes the food. And to keep customers satisfied, it’s crucial to have an up-to-date menu. Digital menus that include sold out items, past LTOs or items no longer offered mislead customers and can cause upset before they ever get to checkout. Operators should be sure they’re using software, apps or third party options that give them the ability to update their menus on a moment’s notice.

Third-party support

Takeout and delivery are a lot for operators to handle on their own, so many restaurants have opted to utilize partnerships with third-party ordering or delivery partners. By doing this, operators no longer have to worry about finding their own delivery drivers, and they can also update their offerings in seconds—tying into the need to have updated menus at all times. Infrastructure provided by third party providers can also help restaurants expand their reach—and in turn, expand their sales.

In the kitchen

According to Technomic’s 2020Delivery and Takeout Consumer Trend Report, 36% of consumers say they anticipate ordering carryout as much after the pandemic as they did during and 43% said they’d order delivery the same amount, but a full 38% said they would order takeout and delivery more frequently. With numbers like these, it will be important for operators to ensure their food production times are low so they can get a high volume of orders—both for off-premise diners as well as those who are dining in—out of the kitchen quickly. For this, tech including combi ovens and pickup lockers can be helpful. Combi ovens help produce a large amount of food quickly, while pickup lockers minimize the amount of labor involved in fulfilling carryout orders—staffers need only put the order into a locker and let the customer know the code for their order, eliminating the need to stand by waiting for customers at the pickup window.

As off-premise ordering remains popular, it will be critical for restaurants to be tuned into technologies that can help them. For more tips to help your off-premise business thrive go to https://mccainusafoodservice.com/takeout-and-delivery.

This post is sponsored by McCain Foods

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