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What the Covid-19 Shutdown Taught Us About Restaurant Ordering Systems

Austin Chegini
27 Jul 2023

Across the United States, shutdowns are still in effect due to the coronavirus pandemic. As a result of these restrictions, the demand for food delivery has exploded. As businesses try to keep up with this trend, some venues have struggled to remain open, largely due to outdated or ineffective restaurant ordering systems.

While some claim these difficulties will not last much longer, officials say the United States is nowhere near ready to fully re-open. For businesses to remain profitable for the duration of this pandemic, they will need a restaurant ordering system that can match changing consumer demands.

What We Learned About Restaurant Ordering Systems

In April, many people tried to see the positives of the pandemic despite its tragic effects. Social media posts painted stay at home orders as a nice break from the rat race of life. For those who could work at home, this was quite true.

However, restaurants had to adapt quickly and work harder to ensure they would weather the storm. We studied how American businesses responded to the crisis, and here is what we learned.

Outdated business models led to closures

Despite being community favorites, many successful restaurants closed their doors permanently or filed for bankruptcy due to the pandemic. While demand fell sharply across all regions, why did some businesses fail when others succeeded?

According to Daniel Shein, a restaurateur in New York City, the pandemic will “force people to revisit the business side and not just the culinary side” of the restaurant industry. Outdated models did not allow businesses to run as efficiently as they should, and many restaurants closed permanently because there was no way to match the shift in dining habits. Establishments that depended entirely on ambiance or alcohol sales soon found themselves with nowhere to turn and closed their doors.

For many other restaurants, however, the pandemic has highlighted the strengths of modern restaurant software. Owners were quickly able to analyze inventory and scheduling needs to cut costs. They used data from reports to calculate the most profitable escape routes.

QSR magazine found that some restaurants took stock of their inventory and found they could create meal kits for families to cook at home, and others realized they could sell surplus ingredients that shoppers could not find in stores due to panic buying.

This data-driven approach is possible with a flexible business model and powerful software that can quickly crunch numbers from the restaurant ordering system to find new business avenues.

A growing need for integrated online ordering

It’s no surprise that successful restaurants are using food delivery right now. Demand has skyrocketed, and Uber recently purchased Postmates for $2.65B, showing how much it expects the industry to grow. But merely accepting online orders is not enough, and it can even harm some establishments.

Some restaurant online ordering systems cannot account for food delivery apps. They track each purchase as an external order, but these systems group all delivery services into one bucket. There is no fast and efficient way for a restaurant owner to determine which services are worth the fees and which are cutting into profits. This need for data is best seen in a viral post from a restaurant owner who sold $1,042 in orders via Grubhub but only kept $376 after fees and adjustments.

A restaurant online ordering system should integrate with apps like Deliveroo. An owner can log into their cloud pos software and track all orders in real-time to determine which services to continue supporting.

Curbside/Mobile ordering is a must

As businesses re-open, they must comply with local and state laws regarding sanitation and occupancy. To make up for these rules, restaurants are adding outside seating, and cities are approving permits faster than usual. However, some takeout counter-service restaurants cannot accommodate even a modest line inside their location because of these laws.

With lines stretching outside and down sidewalks, restaurants need to take orders from those in the line, run them to the kitchen, and then have them ready for pickup. Not only is this process exhausting for the workers, but it also is inefficient and can lead to ordering mixups.

Restaurants would benefit by using handheld pos devices that let you take orders from anywhere. Customers standing in line can look at menus on their phones or on signs placed along the sidewalk. Next, an employee can work their way down the line and take orders from those who are ready.

All orders can go to a kitchen display screen, which is a large screen that lists each order. Cooks can briefly look over the monitor and get to work. This modern system improves speed and reduces the chances of cooks making errors during food preparation. Sometimes servers forget to jot down a customer’s substitution. Perhaps a cook can’t read a waiter’s handwriting, wasting time in the kitchen to decipher the order.

With this improved restaurant ordering system, meals have a higher chance of being ready by the time the customer reaches the front of the line. Fewer customers will leave the line due to the long wait, increasing revenue for the restaurant.

Final thoughts

The coronavirus pandemic has highlighted key weaknesses in the restaurant industry, and the situation can still worsen if consumer demand continues favoring delivery and takeout.

Restaurants should not simply seek to survive until everything returns to normal. Rather, establishments must be ready for the next change in consumer habits by embracing innovative business practices and leveraging data.

Visit Epos Now to learn about implementing cloud pos software and a restaurant ordering system that can keep up with tomorrow’s demands.