By Richard Carter, Co-Founder, OrderPay
The Covid-19 crisis has undoubtedly placed a renewed emphasis on the use and value of technology within the hospitality sector. It has also, in theory, given operators the time to overhaul and enhance capabilities that put them in the best position to understand and communicate with their customers.
Many were already moving toward digital evolution but the crisis accelerated these strategies. A strong e-commerce presence, digital loyalty programs, and robust CRM systems have become lifelines for hospitality businesses in recent months and this will most likely stick for time to come.
Adaptation has been the watchword for the majority of businesses with the physical form of providing hospitality being replaced by the digital, and operators finding new ways of enhancing established channels to remain close to their customers. This dialogue has been developed even further as a result of the Government reopening guidelines which encourage the use of contactless order and payment apps.
Now that businesses have reopened their doors to the public, what do they need to consider when incorporating a tech solution, especially at a time where competition and the battle for customer loyalty is fiercer than ever?
The post-lockdown consumer has become accustomed to an increasingly digitalised lifestyle and will prioritise seamless and efficient service. For many operators, during lockdown there was a ‘nothing to lose' attitude when first pivoting to this technology, but now there is a lot more at stake – poorly-executed service will disappoint customers and drive them to competitors.
Seamless customer experience
First and foremost, a frictionless experience is critical to retaining current customers and capturing next-generation loyalty. But firstly, it's about having the right digital tools in place, used in the right environments and at the right times to win back customers and make the experience as seamless as possible.
Unsurprisingly in a world that is set to be dictated by the operational challenges of physical distancing for the foreseeable future, there is a great clamour for order-and-payment solutions that can assist businesses operate safely and provide speed of service. So, when it comes to drinking and dining in-venue, tech solutions play an integral part to ensure guests and staff are kept safe whilst adhering to social distancing measures.
Furthermore, the OrderPay solution enables operators to achieve all the above through a common digital platform, which breaks down the barriers of multiple app downloads and streamlines the customer experience.
Grab & go operators are also going to find the market more challenging to navigate as the nation exits lockdown. These operators can benefit from ‘tap and go' app functionalities enabling customers to tap their phone on a shelf label to pay for an item without the need to queue. It cuts out many of the traditional steps in pre-existing order and pay apps whilst, crucially, minimising person-to-person contact, with brands such as Wasabi and Chopstix now incorporating this technology into their venues.
Multiple operational solutions
When choosing a digital platform to make the in-venue experience safe and easily adaptable to change, multiple operational solutions that both enhance the customer experience and drive sales should be front of mind. Whilst many businesses may be thinking of short-term fixes, as time goes on, it's important that they also consider ways they can sustain profitability.
Moving forward as the sector continues to rebuild, there is no doubt that a strong e-commerce offering will become integral to operators. While the initial focus for many is on order and payment solutions, with time and development, operators can benefit from a multitude of features, such as customer reviews, delivery, voucher management and loyalty schemes.
This smart technology will provide some of the answers to the immense challenges of safely and successfully operating in the new normal – and prove critical to offering a range of engaging services that help drive customer footfall and spend.
OrderPay helps hospitality operators provide seamless service, everywhere. Founding members include Five Guys, PizzaExpress, Stonegate and Cote and have been joined more recently by Hawthorn Leisure, Wasabi, Tortilla, Drake & Morgan, Chopstix, K10, Dim T, Pho and Wildwood. The deals will enable over 6,000 venues to offer a string of mobile-first order-and-payment solutions. For more information visit www.orderpay.com
What is OrderPay?
• A collaborative Ordering and Payment service for UK hospitality brands
• Provides a single point of download and acts as an ‘app of apps'
• OrderPay uses beacons to allow the app to ‘reskin & lock' to take on your brand look and feel when a customer enters any of your restaurants
• Customer data will be shared with partner brands
• Profit-sharing coalition where 30% of OrderPay profits are shared with the network members
• No monthly fees, and a simple 1.95% transaction fee that includes all payment charges