Contactless Commerce for Food and Beverages Businesses

The disruption that the COVID-19 has brought about has changed how we interact with the outside environment such as public spaces, retail environments or even with other human beings. With us being focused towards adopting stringent and standardized practices for personal hygiene and public health.

Would you want to be a first mover for contactless commerce? Do you see an opportunity in the post COVID lockdown era? Or do you feel that we wait for things to settle down and older practices will bounce back? Well, they may but do we know by when? Would you be still as strong as you are today to benefit from that or would you be gasping for breath, trying to survive by the time things revert to normal?

We look at how we can make F & B vertical ready for engaging with customers in this new environment.

  • Social distancing: 50% of seating capacity is lost that leads to direct reduction in topline.
  • Increased Cost: There would also be a 5-7% increase in cost due to hygiene practices that would be adopted.
  • Falling Revenues: There is an expected fall in revenues by more than 40% due to the order dropping by 60%-70%.
  • Customer Sentiments: The fear of catching the virus has created a lasting change in the minds of consumers. They will highly vary all third party contacts and If they don’t see businesses taking adequate precautions, they will simply not deal with the business.

With a decrease in topline and increase in expense it negatively affects the bottom line. In order to have adaptive practices and to keep the business running we expected the F & B industry to start adopting the following.


Contactless Dine-in

Contactless Dine-in looks at minimizing customer contact of non-essential items that others might have touched. This could be done by replacing the high-touch items with digitized alternatives. This should reduce the risk of safety and health.

In a normal journey of dining in an F&B store, the following non-essential components could be digitized:

  1. Menu – It can be made contactless by having an e-menu in an app, as the menu is something that is touched by various diners that visit. This could be made available to the diners by placing a QR code for the app at the table or by having the name of the app so that it can be downloaded through either Play/App Store. Unlike the current scenario where a table would only be given a limited number of menus, now everyone would have their own menu in their own devices.
  2. Ordering – For ordering, diners come across the waiter who notes the order down . In order to have a contactless ordering process, we can make use of the Tabletop Ordering System where the app itself could be used to add the dishes and beverages to the cart (order list) from the menu and upon confirming is sent to the POS and the kitchen, to have it updated. To bring the experience of e-ordering as close to that of interacting with a waiter to order could be done by implementing Contactless KOT (Kitchen Order Ticket) that would contain the diner’s dishes ordered and remarks which he can send through his app. There could also be an integration at this place with the loyalty program such as recommending them new food items based on the cuisine they like.
  3. Payment – This process is when the waiter brings the bill to the table in a bill book then the diners interact by paying cash or using a payment terminal to swipe their card and entering a pin. Now these methods are touched by many others hence become a concern of safety. A better contactless payments approach would be to pay through the same app which has an integrated e-payment gateway, e-wallets or through other smart pay techniques. This also gives advantage to notify users at this stage of their existing loyalty currency or coupon that they could redeem.

Cost of bill books and also saving the cost in maintaining multiple payment terminals.If we notice that the whole process of making the journey contactless through a single app makes it more seamless to use, and as this device is the diner’s own device, it reduces the concerns of safety for them while instilling confidence to go out and dine better than it otherwise would be. It also leads to a better customer experience with integrating apps with the loyalty program. This would also act as an opportunity to acquire real estate in the mobile devices of the diner which is immensely valuable.

Having adopted contactless dining has its own benefits financially. It will reduce the number of menu cards to be kept and printed at an outlet, while also providing the flexibility of changing the menu digitally without spending more on reprinting the menu cards. Having the order being placed through an app reduces the need for waiters per table to be present as they would be only required for serving foods. This should enable F&B outlets to reduce their staff hence saving on the manpower cost. While payment made contactless allows the saving in printing the invoice.


Contactless Delivery


Contactless Delivery is a way to stop the spread of Covid-19 post the lockdown in which the delivery of your food will be done keeping in mind the social distancing norms by reducing the touchpoints to the minimum.

First way through which we can achieve this is that you place your order using your mobile phone and the delivery guy will deliver the order at your doorsteps without handing it directly to you, afterward you can confirm that you have received the delivery through your mobile app. The payment can be done prepaid or on the delivery as well using your mobile wallet and your much earned reward points.

Post locked-down people would want to go out to have a dine-in experience, but you have limited seating capacity due to social distancing, hence here is another way to go contactless. The mobile app will have an option of delivering the food to the car, where you need to enter your car number along with your location and the delivery partner would deliver the food within 4Km radius of the restaurant. The rest payment will be entirely contactless.

Also, allow your customers to order directly from their social media handles while scrolling through your tempting posts and can view variants without changing platforms through the Social Media Ordering System. This will not only help you to have a strong social media presence but will also turn your reach into revenues.This feature will help users to buy the products they see instantly on their social media handles without switching to different platforms for which they will be awarded brand loyalty points. They can choose to pay through various payment gateways and can track their delivery of orders.

This is the “Click, Pick & Deliver” method through which the restaurant owners can increase their revenue by delivering food to the self-isolated hungry consumers. Plus since it is the time of “New Normal”, i.e., more and more people have started working from home hence they would like the food to be delivered safely at their doorsteps while they are struggling with the piled up files


Contactless Takeaway


Amid the COVID-19 crisis, retail giants like Target and Walmart have ramped up so-called contactless shopping services, where consumers can buy items online and then pick up their purchases either in the store or at the curb.

With social distancing policies and growing concerns over hygiene standards of food delivery from restaurants, customers are looking for minimal interaction with staff to avoid contamination. With an expected fall in in-store revenue, restaurants must quickly take a cue from the retail industry and transition to contactless takeaway options like curbside pickup and takeaway.

Curbside Pickup
Similar to buy-online-pickup-in-store (BOPIS), curbside pickup takes convenience a notch up, as customers do not have to pay a delivery fee, usually associated with online food orders and saves them time by not having to wait for billing.

With curbside pickup, restaurants can limit customer interaction with employees. The process involves customers placing an order online via a restaurant mobile app or web app, then wait for confirmation that it’s ready for pickup. They’ll then drive up to the store and park in a designated area, which will have their order ready to be picked up. Customers can make contactless payments online using mobile wallets, cards, and POS machines reducing further interaction with currency notes/coins.

The restaurant app can provide a personalized customer experience by integrating the Google Map API with the ordering process to use customer and store address to provide push notifications regarding the appropriate time to leave home so as to reach the curbside pickup location just in time as the order is ready. This will save waiting time for customers and also keeps the food hot during consumption.

This concept is not new; 46% of customers had used the service to buy items from retail stores, even before the coronavirus spread. However, in March 2020, the number of people Googling “curbside pick up” has tripled, according to Google Trends. A study by Cowen, reports that by 2020, around 25% of customers will opt for kerbside’s time-saving convenience.


Restaurants have been providing food takeaway options since ages, for time valuing customers who prefer to have food at home and save on the delivery fees. The food takeaway segment has grown by over 34% in the UK since 2009.

Traditional takeaway involves customers ordering the food at the restaurant as “to go” and taking the food with themselves, not requiring dining space at the restaurant. This process was time consuming, as the customer had to wait in the restaurant or nearby which cannot be risked in the current situation to avoid infection.

Restaurants can look for contactless takeaway options like drive-through, which reduces risk of contamination as customers can stay in their vehicles as they wait for their order. Waiting time can be reduced by offering customers to pre-book and pay for their order online through a mobile or web app, then arrive at the restaurant for contactless pickup, similar to curbside pickup.


Voice of Customer


These journeys can be completed by making use of Voice of Customer Technology (VoC). This would be done irrespective of the engagement be it dine-in, delivery or pick-up. Smart sentiment capturing of the customer could be done, using Artificial Intelligence driven questionnaires dynamically to understand their experience, quality, liking and dislikes and other relevant information with least questions. The benefit here is the usage of their mobile devices as a mode of communicating with the restaurant for any of these engagement models, and the questionnaire could be shown after the end of the engagement increasing the visibility on it. This model follows the BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) philosophy. Gamification could be implemented for the feedback such as giving them badges as a top reviewer to drive better engagement. With all of these insights gathered by understanding the Voice of Customer a brand would be able to provide better customer experience. With these models in place a restaurant will transform to a smart restaurant.


Live Kitchen Broadcasting

Live Kitchen Broadcasting, Reciproci, Customer Lifetime Value, Contactless Commerce, Voice of Customers

To ensure that the customer’s food is prepared as per the hygiene factors stated by the Government post Covid lockdown, Reciproci will be providing a feature to broadcast how the food is being prepared in the kitchen in the app itself. This will enable the surety for customers to know that the food is prepared with utmost care. This will definitely help in boosting the customer lifetime value post pandemic era.

Further, the cameras will be having a feature of face recognition where the administration could ensure that the cooks are preparing the meals by wearing masks or not. Here, Reciproci will enable the Voice of Customers feature as well so that the diners can actively participate in ensuring the food-safety provisions. Reciproci will also magnify the food safety by providing the restaurant’s business licenses and permits, staff health certificates, etc through the app to the customers.