What Restaurants Can Learn from Grocery Innovators

Restaurants have suffered as a result of the pandemic, as many dining rooms have closed or operate at a reduced capacity. Restaurants of all sizes have had to adapt, modifying existing models and introducing new processes that streamline online ordering, payments and pickup or delivery. And it’s proving effective. Restaurant Brands International reported digital sales grew 120% year-over-year in Q2 of 2020. 

Today’s consumers expect a frictionless journey that allows them to shop anywhere at any time, with the ability to choose contactless and convenient options that keep them safe. In the past, retailers have learned from hospitality providers about how to build brand loyalty through a great experience. 

Now, during the pandemic, the pattern has flipped on its head. The hospitality industry has had to learn from grocery and c-store retailers at the forefront of innovation about how to integrate digital and contactless touchpoints at their physical locations, in order to support personalized engagement while ensuring the safety of customers and employees alike. 

Let’s explore three technology solutions that are powering the restaurants of the future.

Seamless ordering                           

Ordering is the first point of contact for a customer, whether it’s done online or in the restaurant. Connected platforms can help streamline the ordering process, ensuring that customers can feel safe by eliminating physical contact. This can range anywhere from an app-less QR code on a customer’s phone that accesses the menu, to wearables for staff or even voice-controlled car ordering. A connected store allows for retailers to serve all customers quickly and safely, regardless of how they order.

Order pickup

One obvious service that retail borrowed from restaurants—and subsequently mastered—is takeout. However, in the grocery and retail space, it’s more commonly known as buy online, pick up in store (BOPIS) or curbside pickup. The key behind streamlining these processes is integrating advanced technology for online ordering.

Restaurants can now do the same with a platform that allows them to easily integrate external services, as well as create and leverage their own tools with app-enablement and open APIs. Instead of a customer having to call the restaurant and notify them of their arrival or leave their car and head inside, a simple one-click action can perform the task.

Payments

If ordering and pickup are contactless, payment should be just as seamless and efficient. Bring-your-own-device alternatives to replace legacy and physical touchpoints are critical to delivering contactless options while still sending immersive personalized and targeted offers. The grocery industry has been doing this for years. Mobile point of sale solutions enable restaurants to provide payment options from anywhere. Whether a shoppers want to pay as soon as they place their order online, or swipe a card once they’re in the physical store, retailers can accommodate. 

Similarly, restaurant concepts that exist in convenience or grocery stores, or in malls – often named “grocerants” or “restaumarts” – can implement a cashierless approach similar to Amazon Go, where AI-based item recognition operates a free-flow operations concept. Customers put items on a tray, move to the dining area and are automatically charged for the items.

Follow retail's footsteps

In order to provide a truly frictionless and contactless customer experience, restaurants need infrastructure that enables them to own the relationship throughout the entire shopper journey. The entire omnichannel ecosystem, from online ordering to payments to delivery, can be supported by hospitality software solutions.

With these innovative technology solutions, restaurants can follow retailers’ footsteps and plan for the restaurant store of the future. Let’s plan together.