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How to Turn your Cafe or Restaurant Contactless

Written by 
Tamara Thurman
October 15, 2020

Contactless operations within cafe and restaurant businesses have of course been around for a while, especially in quick service restaurants (QSR’s) such as fast food chains. There is no denying however that the latest global crisis has forced everyone, even the smallest of independent cafes, to drastically reconsider their every day business processes.

Fortunately there are plenty of ways that hospitality businesses can deliver the highest possible standards of service, hygiene and even a personal connection with their end customer, even if they can’t be physically near them.

This contactless cafe and restaurant guide offers some ideas and tips for contactless and socially distanced practices businesses can adopt to safeguard both customers and staff.

1. Swap your paper-punch card for a contactless digital loyalty card

Contactless loyalty card
Contactless loyalty card

Historically, paper punch cards, (where a customer gets a stamp on a card for a purchase, leading to an end reward), have been the leading tactic in creating customer loyalty. Every day you’ll head that same coffee shop, motivated by the fact with every purchase you’re one stamp, (and consequently one step) closer to that freebie.

But those days have now gone. Passing a paper punch-card to and fro is now too unhygienic. Who knows where the card has been lying around (or dropped!) before it is touched by multiple people. And getting close enough to someone to exchange it for a stamp is a no-no.

A contactless loyalty program is simply a much safer and more hygienic contactless alternative. A digital loyalty program operates much like a paper punch card in concept, but the genius is it’s on a phone.

Customers simply open the stamp card app, select their stamp card from the carousel of cards they have joined, and either scan a QR code positioned beside the cash register.

The loyalty program operates from the customer's personal smartphone. Essentially, there’s no need for staff and customers to interact any closer than necessary. In the same stroke, the business still has an effective loyalty program, motivating repeat spending at their cafe or restaurant.

2. Contactless ordering kiosks and digital menus

self service ordering kiosk
Self-service ordering kiosk

Although ordering kiosks and plasma screens are a rather large upfront expenses for many businesses, the fact is contactless is here to stay. These solutions may well be an intelligent long-term investment.

touchscreen icon

Whether they’re menu screens above the point-of-sale, ipads mounted onto tables for ordering, or contactless ordering kiosks (like you can often find in McDonald’s), we’ll no doubt see more of these self-service technologies popping up as time goes on.

There may well be another draw for contactless table ordering and self-service kiosks above and beyond simply the hygiene factor too.

Data shows that self-ordering technologies not only reduce queue time and the burden on staff and resources, there’s the rather useful bonus of increasing the customer’s basket size - in some cases by up to 30%. Essentially, self service means customers are likely to spend more!

paper menu icon

Another sanitary solution, avoiding the need to touch surfaces altogether, are QR codes for menu viewing. Diners scan these QR codes to access the restaurant menu on their mobile phones. Unlike investing in digital screens, QR codes are extremely cheap and once generated online, simply need printing and displaying.

Touchscreen and QR code technology especially appeals to the growing market of young, tech savvy customers who are the primary users of food order apps.

3. Shift to home deliveries and takeaways

McDonald's takeaway bags
Delivery service

With in-store capacity limitations and stay-at-home lockdowns, venues are clearly not able to operate at the volume they had previously. Instead of customers coming to them, they must endeavour to bring the food to their customers.  

motorbike food delivery icon red

Setting up the resources to accept pre-payment online, creating an in-house delivery fleet or signing up to third-party delivery apps such as UberEats or Deliveroo are essential current day considerations for businesses.

Due to social distancing guidelines, staggering pick-up times are of course going to be essential in reducing contact, and kitchen congestion must be factored into these time predictions.

red icon showing different mediums of communication

Read more about how delivery services can help fight the Coronavirus outbreak.

Even though customers are now not coming to physically sit in at hospitality businesses, there are plenty of ways to ensure a relationship and loyalty is fostered. 

Namely by means of delivery reward programs, and communicating  to customers via app push notifications and text messages.

Here's how loyalty programs can work for e-commerce or delivery businesses.

4. Go cashless

phone touching contactless payment device
Contactless payment

Paper money can carry more germs on it than the average household toilet. Yep, you heard that right!

red virus icon

And even more shockingly, whereas most bacteria and viruses last up to a maximum of 48 hours on surfaces, on paper money, studies have found they can last up to 17 days!

On top of that, with the rapid rate that money exchanges from hand-to-hand, avoiding bringing cash into a venue serving food is a no-brainer and one of the quickest courses of action a business can take to adapt to the times.

Only accepting card and contactless payments through smartphones or watches is a much safer alternative for everyone.

5. Avoid keep cups

Although this is advice I wish I didn’t have to give in this contactless cafe and restaurant guide, reusable cups should be avoided to prevent contamination between staff, customers and beverage machinery and utensils.

That obviously sucks for Mother Earth, but fortunately there are plenty of high quality eco-friendly takeaway products on the market these days. Compostable and biodegradable options for one-use packaging should definitely be favoured over anything that may be branded as only recyclable.

takeaway coffee cup
A takeaway cup

Communication is key...

Interaction between man and woman at cafe point of sale
Keeping your communication with customers up is the key

At such a challenging time for hospitality businesses, contactless does not mean communication-less.

Relaying to your customers how you are adapting your business with contactless operations to safeguard their health is a powerful relationship-builder and marketing tool. Customers will undoubtedly appreciate the transparency and can be assured that their health is your priority.

Also don’t be afraid to ask your community for their support, listen to their feedback and adapt to their needs.

If you’re looking for a contactless solution to communicate and keep your customers loyal to you during the COVID-19 pandemic, feel free to get in touch to learn more about our cost-effective loyalty solutions.

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