There has been a lot of talk on what the New Normal (Post Covid-19 world) is going to look like. Covid-19 will have a huge and lasting impact on our behavior in public places – Malls, Movies, Airports, Banks, Offices and even schools. Though we would have to wait to experience the full extent of New Normal, it is safe to assume that physical distancing (really getting allergic to the phrase “social distancing”), sanitizers everywhere, avoiding contact/touch, personal hygiene, increased focus on building immunity, etc are some of the things that would become a part of all our lives.

At Quinta too, we have been exchanging notes on the impact on our products and whether a famed “pivot” (though we have done this in the past, not called it such) is required. One specific use-case that we are investigating is change in the eating out habits of people.

Some predictions of the market changes:
– Increase share of Orders on Food Delivery Apps against Dine-in (higher commissions charged by Aggregators to hurt bottomlines)
– Cloud kitchen business to get a big boost in the coming months
– Restaurants with high rentals and fixed cost to have face the brunt especially in short term.

How can Technology help?
Among the many things that restaurants can do, the ability to manage the “crowd” in the world of New Normal will be imperative. Desperate times calls for adopting creative Technology-driven initiatives.

We have listed a set of effective yet low-cost ideas below that Restaurants can implement:

Digital Ordering

– Faster Point of Sales System:
To avoid crowding near the cash counter and to ensure that customers are turned around quickly, it might be wise to have a good Point of Sale Hardware and Software with minimal downtime.

– Self-Ordering Kiosks:
Customers would want to stay away from queues and hence a Self- Ordering Kiosk with an Ordering App on it can facilitate customers to place orders, make payments and collect it directly from the delivery counters. The Kiosks fully eliminate the need for coming F2F with the Cashier and any need for exchanging cash.

– QR Code based Ordering:
QR Codes are everywhere. QR Codes enable a “personalized digital menu” right on the Mobile Screens of the customers. This eliminates the need of any contact with the Waiter, Menu cards, Payment terminals and Credit/Debit cards. The concept of Digital Menu would possibly do a better job of cross-selling a Hot Croissant along with your Hot Black Coffee!

– Pre-Order Apps:
The Preorder apps facilitate curb-side pick-up ensuring minimal crowding insider the restaurant’s Takeaway counters. This has been adopted by several large Retailers in the US. Besides the factor of social distancing, this would give the convenience of ordering in advance saving valuable time for the customers.

– Voice Ordering:
With the proliferation in the number of Smart homes, Amazon Echo and Google Home are becoming a significant part of the family! Customers are getting used to doing commerce via these smart devices. There have been many PoCs done by Restaurants where the devices are kept on the tables for customers to order via voice. This is an innovative way to keep the customers engaged too beyond just ordering.

Critical Success Factors for these initiatives

1. Data Integration
No matter what the Digital means of ordering is, there must be an integration with the Point of Sales Software running in the restaurant. Else, this would create islands of data creating a bigger headache for Operations.

2. Minimal infrastructure
There must be a minimal infrastructural requirement for rolling out these initiatives. Under the current circumstances, where IT spends are considered non-essential, the capex required to bring about any efficiency improvement must be very low.

3. Early Adoption to lead the way
For any new technology, there are early adopters and then the mainstream comes in. These early adopters must work with the service providers to build these together and help lay a path for the use-cases to evolve and bring more RoI.

Some other trends that we can expect:

Increased share of Digital Payments
Digital Payments will see an upsurge in its usage. People would want to have a “zero-touch” transaction without exchanging any currency. UPI Apps, Wallets, NFC-based payments should be looking at upping their infrastructure and marketing programs to get more share of transactions.

Customer data and analytics
The reliance on the Food Delivery Apps will create a bigger chasm between the Customer and the Restaurants. The stickiness created by the Dine-in experience would get a little diluted. To overcome this, the Restaurants need to have a good CRM for customer analytics to understand the behavior more in depth and use that to roll out discounts/promotions and special offers. AI/ML based recommendation engines can play a critical role here too.

This is not the first time that there an event like this has stuck our world. Social distancing, though not called as such back then, was a concept that was adopted in 1918 too. There were behavioral changes in the personal and social hygiene post the Spanish Flu era. For the foreseeable future, viral epidemics will remain a regular feature of human life. As a society equipped with Technological Innovations and Science, we can only hope that we have learned the great pandemic’s lessons sufficiently well to quell the impact of current Covid-19 challenge.

Please feel free to share your inputs on the above viewpoints. We would love to hear your feedback.
Drop in an email at blogs@quinta.co.in

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