Combating COVID-19: Integrating an order ahead service
By facilitating payments remotely and in advanced of completing the transaction, businesses dramatically cut down the time commitment they are demanding from customers to be outside of their homes.
In our previous article we discussed how the impact of COVID-19 is forcing small and medium businesses to pivot their business model, from engaging with customers and making sales in-store to doing so digitally. This transition to online will be critical for businesses, even those such as restaurants that have been classified as essential by the Government, as they struggle to maintain sales volumes to cover overheads during the crisis.
Integrating order ahead
A second challenge that retail and hospitality businesses are facing currently is that, even where physical premises are still open for sales, consumers are unwilling to compromise social distancing protocols or even risk putting themselves in situations where they are more likely to surrounded by people due to a fear of being infected with COVID-19.
For these businesses, rethinking the business model for the current climate means interacting with the customer in a new way, and particularly being smart about minimising the amount of time you are asking the customer to expose themselves to human contact.
Rapidly integrating an efficient order ahead or scheduling service into the checkout is one tactic businesses can utilise to achieve this. By facilitating payments remotely and in advanced of completing the transaction, businesses dramatically cut down the time commitment they are demanding from customers to be outside of their homes.
Pivoting to order ahead and scheduling services will be particularly important for several key sectors.
In order to lessen the impact of the pandemic on the hospitality industry many states are relaxing laws around delivery services. This includes states such as New York allowing restaurants to include alcohol in its takeout and delivery orders. Other states such as Maryland and Texas are allowing alcohol deliveries to be made to people’s homes for the first time.
For restaurants and other small businesses, temporarily pivoting the business model to avoid relying on an in-person service for revenue is the only course of action open to them if they plan to remain open during the pandemic. Even fine dining restaurants are turning to delivery service temporarily.
Enabling customers to order ahead is going to be critical to make this pivot a success. Customers simply will not be prepared to wait in restaurants for takeout food for fear of becoming part of a crowd and so will demand their order is placed before they reach the restaurants.
Offering a delivery service is a way to reduce customer interaction even further. But when it comes to delivery services, customers will not be prepared to pay on the doorstep with cash. Firstly, because they may be self-isolating or heavily restricting their movement and therefore do not have access to cash; and secondly because there is a global fear that cash is a prominent vehicle for transmitting COVID-19. For the same reason, the employee delivering the order may not wish to accept cash either for fear of bringing COVID-19 back to the restaurant.
Integrating online delivery order platforms
For restaurants operating a sophisticated POS system, working with your payment services provider to integrate third-party apps into the existing checkout that facilitate order ahead option is the most efficient way to open up new channels quickly.
This should include Integrating online ordering and delivery platforms such as Grubhub and UberEats directly into the POS system. Orders can then be automatically accepted through the online ordering platform and printed out directly in the kitchen printer in the same format as walk-in customers.
For restaurants that are not currently operating a sophisticated POS system, working with your payment services provider to launch a lightweight solution such as Clover Go or Clover Flex in order to access the same services via its third-party app marketplace is the most efficient go-to-market solution.
Retail and other services
It’s not just food services that can benefit from ordering ahead apps. Some retail businesses such as grocery stores have launched scheduling services to limit the exposure of customers and staff without resorting to queuing which is difficult to manage and results in a poor customer experience.
Other businesses that rely on impromptu appointments such as automotive showrooms and repair shops are now offering appointment services as an alternative to guarantee customers limited exposure. Some automotive repair shops are offering ‘at home’ appointments for the first time i.e. scheduled pickups, as are other service providers such as medical professionals.
How to integrate scheduling services
Again, the POS third-party app marketplace may provide many of the most efficient and effective solutions for small businesses that want to pivot their model to include an online scheduling service. Business that already operate certain POS systems have instant access to these services and can work with their payments services provider to integrate any new functions; businesses that are operating a different POS system should strongly consider launching a streamline Clover product such as Clover Go or Clover Flex to access the same services quickly and without excessive development and integration costs.