Estimated reading time: 3 minutes
Many states and regions are still largely suffering from COVID-19’s impact as cases seem to be spiking in all areas of the country. As we venture into the colder months, and outdoor dining thins itself out on the popularity scale, many small business restaurants are incredibly dependent on their dining room sales to keep them afloat. Several states have regulations and restricting mandates placed over top of their businesses and can’t serve customers indoors, to better stop the spread of surging Coronavirus cases. How restaurants and small businesses choose to thrive and survive, so that they can stay afloat during the winter season is up to them, but many are choosing the route of Curbside Pickup through mobile-ahead ordering. After a few months of the change-up, nearly 80 percent of consumers are exhibiting that they’ve felt the most comfortable and safe ordering ahead for curbside pickup, when it comes to patronizing restaurants.
At the same time, retail environments are vastly embracing the mobile-ahead concept as well to continue their operational flow. Whether it’s ‘Buy-Online-Pickup-In-Store’ (BOPIS) or ‘Click and Collect’, consumers are trending to opt towards this method of online fulfillment due to the pandemic, and to even cut back on delivery fees and inconvenient turnaround timing. Amid the Pandemic, many stores and shops that have been closed to in-person shopping, but with a few employees still working inside to handle packaging and other shipping orders, there is an opportunity to deliver curbside services to customers who want to cut back on ‘to-their-door’ delivery delays.
It is likely that Restaurateurs feel they’re living in the future, what with the monumental technology leap they’ve taken and practically into the unknown. Before the pandemic ever occurred, technologist conjectured that by 2025, more than half of limited-service sales would flow directly through digital channels. With this predication on the horizon, this allows for hundreds of restaurants to grow and improve their digital presence, allowing them to adapt to where we might be in the next five years. Obviously, businesses are finding that the younger generations are leaning towards these offerings, but it’s even been found in many cases that Baby Boomers and the older consumer base is flocking to the curbside to pick up their orders, especially during the pandemic times. On the retail side of things, retailers and business owners are leveraging mobile-based hardware and software technology solutions to map out these enhanced digital experiences for their whole customer base. Contactless payment options such as QR Codes, Loyalty Program within apps, BOPIS, Curbside Pick, and Self-Checkout systems have only been accelerated due to the Pandemic, they’ve always existed, however now there is more of a push to see them through adoption and completion.
BlueStar’s TEConnect Podcast covered the topic of Online and Mobile Ordering functions and how it’s been impacting our channel, thinking directly of its relation to COVID-19, back in July and as these months have gone onward, these trends become more and more relevant and timely. Epson’s Josh Stanphill shares his insight on how he was able to advise retailers and restaurants, moving forward as COVID-19 first hit its initial spike back in March-May.
“We looked specifically how to accommodate everyone’s need during that time, so we saw integrative usages of printers and other hardware and software solutions, thinking outside of the box, to continue helping businesses operate.” He talked about how several Technology Software Companies (TSCs), at the very beginning, were just offering their online app/platform up to end-users for free, because even if an end-user were to just utilize the software for 60-days, that was 60 days effectively completing business strategies, putting orders in customers hands and keeping the customer experience moving.
While mobile ordering and mobile ahead platforms saw a decrease in popularity over the summer, because outside dining was possible, it’s now seen that those same TSCs who developed their innovative platforms and restaurants alike can see a resurgence of popularity and adoption going into the winter months. As always, the hope for a light at the end of this pandemic tunnel is on the mind, but in the meantime restaurants and retail shops can benefit off of enhancing their customers’ experiences, and that is all streamlined through the power of mobile ordering.