The takeaway handbook for post-pandemic businesses

Takeaways have always been a part of daily life. As early as ~70AD, takeaway restaurants called “thermopolia” were common in the Roman city of Pompeii [1]. Even as the Coronavirus pandemic presents new challenges for restaurant owners, there will always be demand for takeaway. Harnessing the right technology can go a long way in helping the food and beverage industry to survive this crisis.

In the United States, restaurants which pivoted to doing more takeaway have generally done better than those that did not [2]. Even Starbucks, which once prided itself on being a “third place” for dine in, started offering only takeaway in some locations.

According to Mordor Intelligence, “POS terminal systems evolved from being transaction-oriented terminals/devices to systems that can integrate with the company’s CRM and other financial solutions. This evolution … empowered the end-users with business intelligence to better manage their revenue streams and inventory. With the functional benefits that the advanced POS systems offer, companies have replaced their traditional billing software with POS systems, thus, securing the growth of the POS system market.” [3] 

Deloitte's Rules of Engagement iMin Best POS System for Takeaway

Deloitte’s rules of engagement for food and beverage industry players [4]

 

A study by Deloitte also found that while consumer demand for takeaway has increased during the COVID-19 pandemic, consumers prefer to patronise food and beverage outlets which are convenient. Also, consumers prefer to order digitally, and are only willing to wait up to 30 minutes.

In this landscape, how can food and beverage businesses optimise their operations to fully reap the benefits of offering takeaway? This article will recommend different types of advanced features on POS device to maximise its benefits.

 

Too much on your plate?

Managing both dine-in and takeaway is no easy feat. It may be tempting to slide into a standard, one size fits all approach, but it may not be best for your business. Here are some strategies to improve the customer experience for businesses in the restaurant industry.

 

Curate a takeaway (and delivery) experience

Stores which only have takeaway services and those operating from cloud kitchens are likely already doing well on this front. Food trucks, pushcart stalls or home-based businesses would have refined their packaging, and are well-positioned to retain customers. In these cases, there is no need to reinvent the wheel. However, takeaway businesses which are new to the market or due for a hardware upgrade can consider purchasing a higher performing POS device, such as one with a more powerful operating system.

Businesses which have both dine in and takeaway services also do not need to worry, because they too, can adapt easily with the following pieces of advice.

Some food keep better than others. For example, noodles turn soggy after soaking in broth for half an hour, while sushi lasts the whole day in supermarket refrigerators. Furthermore, unlike delivery where customers are likely to be home anticipating the arrival of their meal, it is difficult to estimate how early or late takeaway customers will be. Thus, restaurants can optimise their takeaway menu, eliminating food that does not travel well. Alternatively, restaurants can prepare custom packaging that increase the longevity or presentation of their food and drinks.

 

Butter Knife Packaging iMin Best POS System for Takeaway

An example of innovative and function takeaway design –  a cardboard knife lid for a butter packet to create seamless usage experience [5]

If your business has two separate menus for dine in and takeaway, ensure that your POS software can input this level of detail. Also, you may wish to use a POS device that has kitchen printers able to print differentiated labels. This will increase the speed and accuracy of your employees who have to pack different types of orders.

 

Reduce wait times through line busting

The takeaway experience does not start and end at food. Reporting on the future of restaurants in the United States, McKinsey notes that:

“[Restaurants will need to make] changes to facilitate delivery, curbside pickup, and carryout—where a customer or a delivery person doesn’t have to walk all the way into the restaurant to pick up. The speed at which customers or delivery people can pull in, get what they’re looking for, and continue on their routes is going to be really critical … for long-term stickiness to that brand and ongoing ordering.” [2]Line busting has one aim in mind: to shorten snaking queues. It is especially useful for quick-service restaurants, where customers expect faster turnaround time.

Which food and beverage businesses are suitable for line busting?

Outlets with high order volume. If you run an artisanal store with high margins but a low volume of orders, line busting may be more trouble than it is worth. In contrast, if your business enjoys a high volume of orders per day, and employees struggle to keep crowds under control during peak hours, line busting is definitely the solution for you.

Short preparation times. The faster your chefs and baristas can whip up orders, the more effective line busting will be. Customers consider their overall experience at the store, and will be even more frustrated if it takes a minute to order, but half an hour to collect their food. Thus, stores with ready to eat products, drinks, or fast food are more likely to be suitable for line busting.

Digitally savvy customer profile. Line busting for payments can be done optimally when customers have digital payment options. Make sure that your customer base is familiar with contactless payments so that your employees do not have to spend precious minutes running back to the cash drawer.

 

michal-parzuchowski-1O77vgBVkXQ-unsplash iMin Best POS System for Takeaway

Long queues are simultaneously a blessing and a source of stress for businesses, photo by Michał Parzuchowski on Unsplash

 

Does your business check all three boxes? If yes, there are three ways your business can engage in line busting.

Establish an additional payment counter. The most traditional form of line busting is to set up an additional payment counter away from the main payment area. This counter may only service takeaway items or feature a select part of the menu. For example, McDonalds dessert kiosks and McCafe segment are often located separate from the main payment counter.

 

McCafe and McDonalds iMin Best POS System for Takeaway

Separate counters for McCafe and McDonalds, photo from M Malls Jurong Point [6]

 

While this configuration sounds ideal, it is also the most resource intensive solution. Business owners will have to consider the cost of purchasing additional terminals and hiring more employees before implementing this solution.

Deploy employees with a mobile POS. Another way of line busting is to send employees down the queue with a mobile POS. Employees should be able to tap on common features of a mobile POS to take orders, collect payments, and print receipts. Thus, a critical feature of a mobile POS for line busting is a built-in receipt printer.

 

iMin M2 Pro Mobile POS Best POS System for Takeaway

For example, iMin’s M2 Pro is lightweight, and fulfils all the above criteria

 

In addition, note that each mobile POS device has its pros and cons. Some mobile POS hardware can take card payments, but correspondingly, hardware costs will be much higher. Similarly, some POS software work on a transaction based system, so be sure to calculate the monthly costs of the software according to your business needs.

Make use of self-ordering kiosks. Self-ordering kiosks are a good fit for restaurants which have a self-explanatory menu, and which typically do not need customer service. For example, a restaurant selling artisanal pasta may be less suitable for self-ordering kiosks compared to a restaurant selling burgers and fries.

To fully utilise a self-ordering kiosk, pair it with customer loyalty schemes. For instance, encourage customers to sign up for an account on the spot, and save customer details and preferences. Using sales software, businesses can analyse customer data more precisely. To entice customers to sign up, businesses can have a sign-up bonus or takeaway discount. This is a great way to cultivate loyal customers.

All in all, line busting is an impactful business decision. However, not all businesses can or wish to engage in line busting. Fret not, as there are many other tips and tricks that these businesses can consider.

 

Get a dual-screen desktop POS for takeaway

This is a quick fix solution for restaurant businesses. Cognitively, we read faster than we can listen. Having customer-facing displays enables the customer to double check their order and total bill more quickly. In turn, the cashier will be able to process payments more quickly, speeding up the customer turnover rate. You may also display more information on customer-facing displays, such as ongoing promotions or feature a menu item.

 

iMin-Desktop-POS-D4-User-Scenario Best POS System for Takeaway

An example of a dual-screen desktop POS which enables customers to check their orders

 

The best POS system for takeaway may be multi-functional

Unlike in the past, POS hardware can now be customised. Thus, instead of choosing a POS that is strong in one function, businesses may wish to prioritise multi-functional or modular POS devices.

There is a huge range of additional hardware available, mostly for payment integrations. Some POS devices can also be equipped with scanners, printers, cash drawers, and more.

Many POS software now also have a wide range of functions, including employee management, detailed reporting on sales, and customer relationship management.

Alternatively, business owners can explore hidden functions of your POS. Did you know that POS devices equipped with a camera can be used to scan QR codes? This can be used to efficiently manage crowds and to comply with COVID policy regulations. For example, in Singapore, POS devices can be used to check-in customers just by downloading the TraceTogether application (an application to facilitate contact tracing efforts in response to the COVID-19 pandemic).

 

Upgrade remote management capabilities

For larger restaurants and franchises, remote monitoring is the key capability to look out for in POS devices. On the hardware side, look out for a cloud-based POS system, to sync real-time data. This will ensure that all your POS devices across different locations are up to date, and make remote monitoring more efficient. On the software side, if your business is huge or in the process of scaling up, keep your eyes peeled for software which allow unlimited devices with no or little additional cost.

christin-hume-mfB1B1s4sMc-unsplash iMin Best POS System for Takeaway

With a cloud-based POS system, business owners can easily monitor data from all locations in one dashboard, photo by Christin Hume on Unsplash

 

If you order a high volume of hardware and software POS systems, you may be able to obtain a custom quote from suppliers. Reaching a minimum order quantity may also enable you to request for custom made devices, such as in terms of colours or configurations. If your business has the scale, do work closely with your POS hardware and software suppliers to find the best fit for your needs.

 

So, which is the best POS system for takeaway?

The best POS system for takeaway is ultimately based on informed decisions about your business needs. The demands of full-service restaurants will differ greatly from coffee shops. Since a POS device is a long-term investment, know which additional features you need and which your business can do without. Also, be crystal clear on the pricing plans and customer support options of the POS partners you work with.

As we approach the last quarter of 2021, COVID-19 would have raged on for a year and a half, permanently changing the food and beverage landscape.

Out of necessity, the food industry has incorporated takeaway and delivery into their operations. However, delivery is not an option for many small businesses, as they are unable to afford platform fees. Furthermore, delivery forces businesses to relinquish control over the customer experience, as they cannot manage delivery times or collect customer data. In contrast, takeaway services are easier to setup, manage, and monitor.

With a full range of features, it is unsurprising that POS systems in Southeast Asia have a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 31% [3]. However, even as POS hardware and software have evolved, business owners may not be aware of how to unlock the full potential of their POS devices. As explained in this article, food and beverage business owners stand to benefit greatly from using more POS device functions – time to take it away!

 

References

[1] https://time.com/4291197/take-out-delivery-food-history/

 [2] https://www.mckinsey.com/industries/retail/our-insights/whats-ahead-for-us-restaurants

 [3] https://www.mordorintelligence.com/industry-reports/southeast-asia-pos-terminal-market

 [4] https://www2.deloitte.com/us/en/pages/consumer-business/articles/restaurant-future-survey-technology-customer-experience.html

 [5] https://www.crazyleafdesign.com/blog/daily-inspiration-15-clever-and-functional-packaging-designs/

 [6] https://www.mprivileges.com.sg/stores/jurong-point/mcdonalds-and-mccafe-201 

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