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How to Set Up Contactless Ordering at Your Restaurant (And Why You Should)

by | Dec 8, 2021

With the increasing convenience and general appeal of contact-free interactions with merchants, contactless delivery and dine-in ordering have become more popular than ever in the restaurant industry. While contactless delivery is already a popular option for those who prefer to eat at home, a growing number of restaurant owners have also tried to bring people back into their physical locations by offering contactless ordering for dine-in as well.

Contactless ordering is expected to affect a majority of businesses in the coming years, with Gartner predicting that 80% of ordering and replenishment processes will be touchless by 2024. It stands to reason, then, that restaurant customers will already be primed to participate when dining out.

Recent labor shortages have also led restaurants to seek ways to overcome the challenges of a small, overburdened team. Automating certain tasks with contactless dining is an effective means of doing so.

In this guide, we’ll go over what contactless dining is, the benefits of offering this (for your customers and employees), and the tools you need to facilitate it.

How Does Contactless Dining Work?

Contactless dining helps reduce the amount of close contact between restaurant guests and staff. To allow for contactless dining, more restaurants are enabling guests to do everything tableside, from ordering their meals to paying via innovative contactless technology. In the process, restaurants are eliminating the need for as much physical interaction with customers as possible while maximizing convenience. Digital menus and touch-free payment capabilities are replacing traditional ordering methods.

The implementation of contactless ordering has become increasingly important as restaurant owners and guests seek to maintain a safe environment wherever they go. At the same time, many guests are eager to return to their favorite restaurants. Contactless ordering gives these individuals the ability to do so while adhering to certain safety guidelines.

Why You Should Offer a Contactless Ordering Option to Guests

If you’re considering integrating a contactless ordering experience into your operations, there are multiple advantages to offering this option. Some specific benefits include:

Less Burden on Current Staff

The labor shortage has made things tough for restaurants, as many businesses have staff who are overburdened. Through the use of contactless ordering options, you can relieve some of that burden with more automation. You may find that you don’t need to reduce hours due to a lack of staff once you have more efficient processes in place. At the same time, you’ll be able to protect employees from both burnout and potential health risks.

Increased Efficiency of Operations

For restaurant owners looking for a way to cut down on operating costs, contactless ordering is crucial. Table turnover is one key factor that influences operating efficiency and expenses. If you can turn tables quickly enough, you’ll be able to serve more guests and subsequently increase sales. 

Contactless ordering can enable faster turnover by increasing the efficiency of staff; employees don’t need to manually collect orders, enter them into a POS, and split the bill while juggling the needs of their other tables. Instead, guests can electronically submit orders to a kitchen display system (KDS) or chit printer. Then they can split the bill and pay however they choose. 

More Accurate Orders

One potential issue that can frustrate guests and lead to lost business is miscommunication between guests and staff. However, you can effectively prevent this problem by giving guests the ability to order their meals on their own. Using contactless technology, guests can:

  1. Select the meals they want
  2. Review their order to ensure it’s correct
  3. Submit it

Then staff will clearly see what’s included in the order. Not only will this leave customers more satisfied, but it will also help reduce food waste and the amount of time spent at each table sorting out confusion.

Opportunities to Optimize Menus

If you want to make any updates to your existing menu and test it, you can easily do so without the need to reprint physical menus and distribute them to guests. Through a contactless ordering system, you can instantly make any necessary changes and test them. This saves you both time and money on menu optimization. 

Some of the ways you can use a contactless ordering system to alter your digital menus include: 

  • Testing new images of various items
  • Testing different item placements
  • Listing new prices to determine the best price point

Larger Average Check Sizes

People may actually be willing to spend more at a restaurant when they’re able to order using contactless technology. Businesses like McDonald’s have already found that the average check size increased by as much as 30% with the introduction of self-service options. 

One of the main reasons for this could be that guests are more comfortable with making large orders without any concerns about judgment from staff members. Digital menus and self-service could also make it even easier to instantly add items to orders based on unique suggestions displayed while ordering. For instance, a customer ordering a spaghetti dish might be prompted to choose a side of garlic bread. 

These are simply a few of the many potential advantages that come with offering contactless ordering options to your guests.

What You Need for Contactless Ordering at Your Restaurant

To prepare your restaurant to adopt a contactless ordering solution, you need certain tools. The following are some of the specific items required to enable contactless dining.

1. An Accessible Online Menu

The very first item you’ll need for a contactless ordering system is a virtual menu that guests can view using their mobile devices. However, it’s not enough to simply upload an image of your menu. Instead, give guests the ability to interact with a mobile-optimized digital menu that they can use to order precisely what they want. 9Fold’s online ordering menus, for example, are already mobile-optimized and can be easily used for dine-in ordering.

Using a QR code located at the table, guests would be able to scan it with their mobile devices and instantly load the menu. In other setups, guests may be able to use tablets with preloaded menus at the table. But it’s often best to allow guests to use their own personal devices to minimize contact with other diners and staff (not to mention the time you save not having to clean every tablet between uses).

2. Digital Payment Options

In addition to placing orders, guests should also be able to easily pay through your contactless ordering system. This eliminates any need to hand over credit or debit cards to waitstaff in exchange for a paper receipt. Your ordering system should already be equipped with this, and offer a wide range of payment options — including Google Pay and Apple Pay — to streamline the process and avoid your staff having to intervene due to payment issues.

3. Tools to Optimize the Menu and Guest Experience

With the help of a data collection tool and marketing solutions, restaurant owners can gain invaluable insight into guests and their favorite menu items. By collecting certain data around personal preferences and contact details, you can push personalized suggestions that are likely to keep people coming back to your restaurant. Based on what people order or ignore on your menu, and based on reviews of the restaurant, you’ll also be able to determine which menu items to highlight and which to change or drop.

Create the Perfect Contactless Ordering Experience to Ensure Your Restaurant’s Success

Because of unforeseen circumstances such as the pandemic and the increased demand for optimum convenience, restaurants need to incorporate a contactless dining experience today.

With the right solutions and measures, you can enable guests to easily view your menus, place their orders, and make payments without directly interacting with servers. In this way, you’ll be able to optimize your restaurant’s operational efficiency while alleviating some of the strain on your already overworked staff.

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