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Best Tech Tools for Restaurants Transitioning to Takeout
In today’s world, many restaurants have found themselves scrambling to offer takeout, curbside, delivery, and other creative options since traditional dine-in service has been suspended in most areas. Having the proper systems and tools in place is key to making a smooth transition from dine-in to takeout service. Managing takeout orders and expanding revenue streams through grocery offerings and dining credit pre-sales requires different sets of tools and tracking mechanisms, and restaurants need to ensure that everything is in place to continue serving their customers effectively.
Online Ordering System
One of the most important tools for a restaurant transitioning to takeout is an online ordering platform. You need to make sure that customers have an easy way to place orders without tying up your workforce on the phone. Online ordering systems allow customers to place an order without the need to talk to anyone over the phone, and that same system is connected directly to your kitchen so that the kitchen staff knows exactly what to prepare.
In addition to placing orders, a robust online ordering system also allows customers to pay for their food. If the customer has already paid for the food, then “no contact” pickup options can be scheduled. If your ordering platform can accept payments, then you should thoroughly vet the security of your system to ensure that your customers’ data, such as name, address, and credit card information, is totally secure.
Online Ordering Best Practices
Despite its convenience, a bad online ordering experience can deter customers and encourage them to order lunch someplace else. When setting up online ordering on your website, consider the following aspects of the customer experience:
- Add imaged and detailed descriptions
While your regulars may know what they are getting before they open your website, new clients will need to see what looks good and know what each dish is made of. If possible, augment authentic names of dishes with straightforward descriptions.
- Allow for the same level of customization you would offer in-house
Offering customizations for different diets and food preferences are an American dining standard. Move this experience online by allowing your customers to select allergies and add or exclude certain ingredients. At the very least, allow your customers to leave a comment with desired customizations in a dedicated field on the order form.
- Create intuitive sections and filters
While some of your customers may be inspired to browse the menu, most will have a special request in mind. Perhaps, they are there for lunch, or craving shrimp, or looking for a low-calorie option. Section your menu and set up filters to match.
- Optimize your search
Some of your customers may not know everything you have on the menu, or even that your restaurant exists. Help them find exactly what they are craving by implementing SEO best practices and improving search on your website.
Inventory Tracking System
Restaurants who have transitioned to takeout seem to be experiencing different volumes of business than they were previously. Their business is also quite unpredictable during this time, so accurately tracking and forecasting inventory is crucial to avoiding wasted food while still having enough to fulfill all orders. A software system that tracks inventory is a great asset to have during this time.
Automated inventory tracking ensures that tracking is precise and accurate. It removes errors from human mistakes and omissions. Inventory tracking software is plugged into your point-of-sale system and recipes, so each time you sell a pizza, cheeseburger, or salad, the system knows exactly how much of each product you have left. 3nom can help you build custom inventory tracking software so that you can cut food costs and reduce waste.
In addition to pure inventory tracking, software using artificial intelligence can help you forecast your inventory in the future. This intelligent software can review all your historical inventory and sales data and use that to predict what your inventory will look like in the future. This can be used to identify trends and make sure that you stock up for times when the anticipated demand is high.
In some cases, inventory tracking systems are being asked to do things that may not have been anticipated a few short weeks ago. Inventory systems are built to track inventory through orders placed on your normal menu, but some restaurants are now offering uncooked food like a grocery store. Others are donating unused food to those in need. These new methods of distribution may require some changes to your inventory system in order to accurately keep track of the amount of food you have on hand.
Mobile Point of Sale Terminals
As restaurants transition to takeout, ordering and payment processes need to change as well. As previously discussed, an online ordering platform is great, but there are other options. Some customers may still prefer to call in their order or place an order in person. In these cases, having mobile hardware so that you can take a customer’s order outside or allow them to pay curbside is a critical tool.
You need hardware that you can pick up and carry anywhere around the premises. And, at a minimum, that hardware needs to be loaded with software that allows you to enter an order or accept payment.
Strong Wireless Network
As restaurants adopt mobile hardware, they must be sure that they have a reliable wireless network. Their wireless network needs to have enough bandwidth to handle all their devices entering orders and taking payments at once. It should also be highly secure as it will be transmitting sensitive customer information like credit card numbers. A managed service provider like 3nom can ensure your system’s security is air-tight and educate your staff on all aspects of security to give you peace of mind.
In the midst of this pandemic, restaurants are finding unique and creative ways to continue their business. There are several IT and tech tools available that can make managing this new way of business much more effective and seamless. Take full advantage of the features of your existing tools where possible, but reach out to an expert for help when your existing tools fall short. By utilizing the appropriate tools, you will be able to keep a precise and accurate eye on inventory, allow customers to place orders through multiple channels, and offer some new services. Your dedicated 3nom expert can take care of your IT while you focus on what you do best: delicious food.
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