The target date for restaurants, pubs and hotels to reopen after the coronavirus lockdown is fast approaching, so businesses need to be ready to go with technology that will help them reopen safely
Hospitality businesses are looking at different ways they can reopen and what will happen when they do.
It's stressful for operators to think about managing social distancing rules while still trying to turn a profit, but, fortunately, there are steps that businesses can take, both to smooth the way they operate and to inspire confidence among customers.
And some operators have already had a head start, employing easy-to-use technology to blaze a trail that can show their colleagues in the hospitality industry the way forward.
400º Pizzeria, a one-man pizza van run by Sam, was not given explicit instructions to close down completely by the government. He stopped operating for three weeks to assess customer safety, but, in that time, he pivoted to selling dry goods on 400º Pizzeria's existing website, run via Square Online Store.
Since then, 400º Pizzeria has fully reopened. Using technology like the Square Reader means that operators like Sam can accept payment via contactless cards, Apple Pay and Google Pay, as well as chip and PIN anywhere.
The advantages are threefold:
• It enables faster payments.
• It boosts the confidence of consumers wary of handling cash.
• It helps to keep employees safe by removing the need to handle money.
Keeping a diversified offering – for example, by offering delivery services or curbside pick-up – is likely to be key for businesses as they reopen. Not all customers will necessarily feel confident straight away and may prefer other ways to use a hospitality business's services.
"The biggest difference has been operating like a click-and-collect business. We noticed a lot of queue anxiety in supermarkets and we wanted to minimise that feeling," says Sam.
"Now customers place their order online, then we notify them that it's nearly ready. To reduce queues and big crowds, we use a number-calling system, using the last three digits of the order number, so only one customer comes to the van at any one time. Our sales are up 100% year-on-year, but we're conscious that this trend won't last for forever."
Fortunately, even if you don't currently have a delivery service, it's easy to set up. TODAY BREAD, a bakery based in London, set up a Square Online Store for free within a day or two.
TODAY BREAD has kept all delivery in-house to maintain its stamp on customer service. "We wouldn't want to risk breaking that connection by bringing someone else into the mix. Using Square to run the business has helped make online ordering simple for the team to manage and customers to use," says Alexandre Bettler from TODAY BREAD.
"The key for anyone wanting to put a delivery service in place is to keep it as simple as possible and start small," adds Alexandre.
"So many of us are new to this playing field, so see what you can manage and scale up. This will help prevent overwhelming yourself. It's better to serve a small area really well than disappoint customers further afield."
Squareup Europe Limited is regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Details on transaction fee per product, can be seen here: squareup.com/gb/en/pricing