COVID-19 took the world by storm. People have been dealing for nearly a full year with the virus’s effects. How long it will stick around is unknown. One industry that’s taken a particularly hard hit is restaurants. With social distancing and quarantines, people have been turning away from dining for the most part. However, technology is here to help.
The Pandemic Effect
When the COVID-19 pandemic first hit the United States, it sent the public into a state of seclusion — to protect themselves and each other. The virus spreads quickly, and some people are asymptomatic or show few signs. The quarantines and social distancing caused a general drop in brick-and-mortar commerce and an increase in online shopping. Coming in contact with people was something to avoid.
The shift to the digital world hurt restaurants. Using your favorite delivery apps became the norm, and in-person dining ground to a halt. In fact, Yelp reported that 60% of eateries that shut down for the pandemic have now permanently closed.
Even now, as some states open back up slowly, there’s always the possibility of regression. Certain places are currently backsliding, and it can happen anywhere. More waves could come around, and there’s no guarantee that the upcoming vaccine will eliminate the virus. These changes mean indoor and outdoor dining will fluctuate and be unsafe at certain points.
To survive the back-and-forth as well as the virtual shift, restaurants must adapt to technology — as soon as possible.
How Tech Helps
There’s power in technology. As worldwide populations shift to delivery apps and digital connections, restaurants can’t fall too far behind. Consider how your e-commerce interactions have increased since the pandemic. In-person dining must keep up.
The first resource for restaurants is to add delivery and pickup options. However, they must put their listings on popular apps like Grubhub, Doordash and Uber Eats. Throughout the pandemic, supermarkets like Walmart have offered delivery for groceries, too.
These apps have options for contactless pickup and delivery. That way, customers can get their food without worrying about coming in contact with other people. Plus, resultants can expand their delivery radius to get more business and remain a powerful competitor.
With the spread of germs, cash has become somewhat outdated and makes contactless payments through apps ideal. Customers can add tips at checkout, too. Paying in person can also be contactless. With tech like Apple Pay and Google Pay, card tap-and-go methods and apps like Venmo, customers never have to touch a thing.
If customers come inside to pay, restaurants will need to comply with PPE protocols and standards while still having OSHA regulations in place. The changing landscape is an opportunity now for restaurants to innovate with the times.
Preparing for the Future
The U.S. unemployment rate is coming down from a record high, and many people are looking for work. If restaurants take on more employees, they’ll have additional resources to expand their business. For instance, if owners are looking to widen their delivery locations, having more workers means more orders.
There’s currently no way to be sure how long the pandemic will last. Restaurants must incorporate technology to properly prepare for future highs and lows.
One example of progress is using quick response (QR) codes for dining. Everything should be digital — menus, ordering and payment. In-person, though, you can scan a QR code with your phone’s camera, and it will pull up the menu.
If cases start to increase, though, restaurants will need to abandon in-person indoor and outdoor dining once again. Having a digital interface in place will ensure resilience throughout the pandemic.
Tech Is Here to Stay
The future of COVID-19 is uncertain. The vaccine could work well and cases could drop, or it could be ineffective. Regardless, using tech is how restaurants will move forward. Implementing it now means it will not be going anywhere in the future. It’s efficient, modern and convenient — it will help eateries for years to come.