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Has Contactless Dining become Commonplace?

General Info November 29th 2021
Has Contactless Dining become Commonplace?

Has Contactless Dining become Commonplace?

The coronavirus pandemic has brought about a lot of changes to the hospitality industry, one of the most significant being the increasing prevalence of contactless dining. Contactless dining is the opposite of what many people usually expect to experience when they eat out. Instead of intimate, social spaces, hospitality venues are changing to layouts where customers are further apart from each other, and diners can view the menu, order, and pay with limited interaction with staff.

Whilst contactless dining might still feel alien to many café owners, reducing contact has been necessary during the coronavirus pandemic. Offering a contactless dining experience can help customers to feel safer and more comfortable during these unprecedented times.

Integrated point of sale (POS)

The single most important cog in a contactless dining experience is an integrated POS system. This is what connects a digital menu and ordering system with the kitchen. Since the start of the pandemic, some restaurant and café POS providers have begun to develop or integrate with software that facilitates digital ordering.

With this software, customers can place and pay for an order on their phone. This order is then recorded in the system and sent to the kitchen so they can start preparing the food.

Digital Menu

With the software is in place, café owners needed to turn their attention to the digital menu itself. Whilst it may be tempting to just create a digital version of a regular menu, it is important to make some considered adjustments to account for the fact customers have less contact with staff.

A digital menu needs to force customers to input the information they would normally give to staff. One way to do this is to include optional modifiers that allow them to change condiments or upgrade meal sizes, for example. It can also collect information on a customer’s preferences, such as how they like their steak cooked.

Adding written descriptions, ingredients lists and photographs to the digital menu will help customers answer the questions that they would usually ask staff.

Payment Processing

Many cafés already had contactless card machines; however, these payment methods still require staff to bring the machine to the customers’ table. One way to get around this is to collect the payments within the order processing system.

With this technology, customers can simply enter their payment information into the ordering platform, and the payment will be processed digitally, just as it is on an ecommerce website. This means no card reader is required.

This method of payment processing also gives cafés the opportunity to send guests digital receipts, and add prompts for tips to be left too.

Cafe Furniture

Here at Café Reality, we have seen an increased demand for outdoor furniture and as part of a COVID-safe dining experience, many cafes and restaurants have invested in new dining furniture in order to maintain social distancing within the dining area.

Hospitality businesses can limit maximum group sizes by using smaller tables, add protection screens in between tables and opt for easy-clean furniture too.

We think it's safe to conclude that contactless dining has become commonplace and that will remain the case for the foreseeable future.

Thanks for reading.

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