The coronavirus pandemic is bringing all of us into uncharted territory and order ahead may be the only solution right now for restaurants. Among all of the economic uncertainties that are developing by the day, it’s understandable that small business owners are worried about the future. As we’re seeing, the COVID-19 pandemic is hitting the food service/restaurant industry particularly hard, with many businesses struggling to keep their doors open in the wake of social distancing and forced closures.
There’s a lot to be worried about, but if we had to find a silver lining here, it’s that these changes have sparked a surge in marketing creativity for small businesses. Even in just the past few weeks, we’ve seen small quick-service restaurants (QSRs) move to online ordering, mobile order ahead, curbside pickup, and even makeshift delivery – all in the interest of keeping customers fed while also keeping the lights on.
This is the point we’d like to stress, here. Although QSRs are feeling economic pressure, it is possible to adapt and put yourself in a better position to weather the storm.
Update – Social Distancing and Shelter-in-Place
As of March 27th, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) alongside other data aggregators report that the United States has over 90,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19. This is the highest total of any country we’ve seen so far, and numbers continue to rise.
Naturally, travel bans are in place, and healthcare resources are tight. Both local and federal governments have recommended social distancing measures as a primary way to stop the spread (defined as staying at least 6 feet away from others in public situations). Of course, we’re beginning to see non-essential businesses close in the more heavily affected states, and many of these states are enacting “shelter-in-place” orders to limit movement outside of essential activities.
But of course, foraging for food falls into the category of “essential”, and plenty of us who are hunkered down in our homes rely on having access to takeout and delivery services. (This is particularly important, given that public panic has pushed some to clear out their local grocery store shelves.)
In other words, restaurants remaining open are putting themselves on the front lines in the interest of public service – and those of us outside food service are certainly grateful. But with that in mind, it’s important to look at how these restaurants offer service. After all, public safety is paramount, and QSRs who want to keep the revenue flowing need to adapt their services in turn.
And for the foreseeable future, these adaptations will largely involve off-premise ordering solutions – mobile orders, contactless delivery, takeout, and so on.
Off-Premise Ordering Is a Necessity
Given how many of us are working from home these days, it’s clear that the pandemic has been an impetus for companies to go digital in one way or another. The push for off-premise ordering solutions is just another example.
It’s fair to say that online ordering and mobile ordering are some of the best ways to reach customers in the era of social distancing. And in truth, they’re some of the only ways to offer service in a safe, responsible way. As long as lockdowns are in effect and customers are encouraged to quarantine, off-premise ordering will rule the day.
Of course, we’ve talked at length about the benefits of solutions like mobile order ahead in previous posts. But given everything that’s been going on, it’s hard to overstate the value of these apps. Social pressure to stay indoors is rising, and as more of us get stuck inside, we’ll increasingly rely on digital ordering solutions to get food on the table.
This is why it’s so important for QSRs who use the Square point-of-sale (POS) to explore all of their off-premise ordering options. Partners like PoppinPay have made it their mission to provide secure, off-premise ordering solutions for Square users – offerings that include online ordering and mobile order ahead applications for small businesses.
These solutions are branded to each business and offer a simple way to enable digital ordering, update online menus, and handle all payments off-site through Square. It’s a great system for any QSR, but it’s particularly important these days, because customers need solutions now. QSRs can’t afford to wait weeks or months to offer online ordering; the time to act is here.
Fortunately for Square users, PoppinPay has made it easy to set up and deploy these mobile ordering tools. Although it won’t happen overnight (online ordering can be in as little as a few days, while a mobile app will be 3-4 weeks), it’s a system that was built to be rolled out efficiently – even for smaller companies. And given how fast things are moving, companies without some type of off-premise ordering solution are putting themselves at risk. Right now, every day counts.
Protect Your Customers – And Your Business
This pandemic is teaching us a lot about our society, our economy, and our businesses. And if there’s any takeaway that’s readily apparent from all this, it’s that certain business solutions – such as off-premise mobile order ahead – are more important than many QSRs realize. After all, before the outbreak began, many people viewed mobile ordering as a mere marketing tool. But today, we see that it’s much more than that. Right now, it’s one of the only truly safe and secure ways you can accept customers’ orders without exposing them – or your staff – to undue risk.
And even though times are getting tight, it’s not too late to look into these solutions! The situation is still evolving, and companies who are proactive about adapting their processes will be much more resilient to the coming pressures we’ll inevitably face.
Don’t waste time! If you’re a Square merchant finding that your business could benefit from a wider range of ordering options, PoppinPay will be there to help you every step of the way.