As the industry emerged from lockdown, technology very quickly became the solution to a whole raft of new challenges, from social distancing to table service and contactless payment, leading to an acceleration of three to five years in the demand and usage of self-ordering and payment solutions. At Zonal alone, we’ve seen over 40 times the amount of orders go through our online ordering platforms than prior to COVID!
Many operators were forced to adopt new technology solutions at record speed, or make better use of those they already had over the past few months – for everything from managing bookings and capacity, to creating completely new ordering channels via click and collect and delivery. 48% of business leaders suggest that implementing new technology has been a major, or their biggest focus post lockdown to help safely reopen their businesses.
Fast forward seven months and we were presented with a second lockdown. So how can you use this time effectively? What have we learned and how are things different this time round?
Many of our customers are using this time to build for the future, not just for post-lockdown – planning long-term operational strategies, and for many this includes reviewing their entire technology suite.
Now is the time to look back and reflect how this tech is performing
You’ve implemented online ordering, click and collect or delivery. What now?
Having embraced these new technologies, it’s time to ask some serious questions of them – are you getting the most out of the solutions? Are they performing as you hoped they would? Is your provider giving you the right level of support or has it highlighted the cracks in your tech infrastructure? Has it put pressure on other systems showing they can’t cope with an omnichannel approach? A technology review will reveal the strengths and weaknesses of these solutions to ensure they are fit for purpose and capable of delivering your business needs.
Not sure where to begin? Here are a few points to consider when undertaking your review:
1. Sharing of data
Do your platforms sit in silo or do they talk to one another, can you capture this data centrally to give you a single view of your operations? Is it giving you access to the insight and data intelligence that you need to help you make informed decisions?
Do your tech platforms offer everything you need to support all your operations? Are they adding more time pressure on your staff, for example do online orders need to be re-keyed into your POS or kitchen management system or accounting tool? How do you ensure nothing is missed and how do you account for human error? Are the systems giving you complete control of all your customer touch points?
3. Protect your brand
With more ordering channels now available, this brings more opportunities for customers to engage with your brand. How is this being managed, is the brand experience consistent or is it being compromised? How do you ensure you offer the same experience customers expect from your brand even if they are not in-venue? Do the new platforms allow you to add your brand personality and unique offering, but still allow for that personal touch when needed?
How are you managing your available stock items or even available tables on different channels? Can customers order things that are no longer available? Not only is this an additional task for your staff to keep on top of but also leaves a negative impression of your brand with the customer.
5. Right partner
You may have needed to act quickly in implementing your new solutions and not had time to complete all the research that you would normally do when choosing a new technology partner. How is the partner working for you, how are they supporting you during this time, if you need help can you contact them outside of the standard 9-5pm? Can they meet your growth plans and expectations, can they grow with your business? Ensuring a partner can provide solutions that can integrate into your existing technology infrastructure will stand you in good stead for a successful, profitable business in the future.
Adding new technology to your business to meet changing demands is not as simple as a tick box exercise, it’s not easy and you’re not alone, 94% of leaders suggest that implementing new technology is at least somewhat challenging, with 1 in 3 suggesting it is a major challenge. You need to review, listen to your customers and work with your technology partner to ensure you are providing the best experience to keep those loyal customers.
With customer touch points becoming increasingly varied and arguably more complex, the seamless data sharing and integration becomes ever more vital to ensure the customer experience is not compromised and to minimise the burden on operations. With a plethora of platforms now available to operators, never has there been a greater need for a holistic view of customer touch points and this can only be achieved through an integrated approach to technology. The data available from this approach will be invaluable to any business, it will aid planning, ensure operational efficiency and help meet your business goals not just for re-opening but for the future.
For a complete integrated approach, check out Zonal’s range online ordering tools