It’s no secret the hospitality industry was among the hardest hit during the pandemic. As people took shelter indoors, businesses pivoted and found new ways to reach customers at home, causing food delivery and takeout businesses to skyrocket with 4.2 million more Canadians ordering food online at least once a week than before the pandemic.

Restaurant openings are now well underway, and many establishments are utilizing their learnings from the pandemic to optimize takeaway models as people take advantage of picnic season during the warmer months. The popularity of takeout and delivery hasn’t subsided despite the return of indoor dining, creating reasons for restaurants to evolve and pivot further even as restrictions continue to lift. As we look back at the height of the pandemic, there are several key learnings from the takeaway model that dining establishments should carry forward in a post-pandemic world.

Technology Is Vital For Success

One of the biggest takeaways from the pandemic is that technology is essential to reach a wider segment of diners who have enhanced expectations surrounding digital access to restaurants.

Previously, an online ordering system wasn’t considered essential technology for most  restaurants. Now, customer expectations have changed, and online ordering and/or a third-party delivery option are a vital part of a restaurant’s business model and ultimate success. Consumers expect to have mobile-friendly ordering solutions available and the convenience of ordering takeout from their device at any place and at any time. Without an online ordering system, restaurants are in danger of losing customers to tech-forward establishments that know convenience is top of mind for hungry, time-strapped customers who have gotten used to a new way of transacting – be it ordering groceries, an appliance or dinner – online

In order for these operating systems to run smoothly, platforms that are easily integrated are vital for success, as it allows the different systems to work cohesively in the background. An integrated system decreases human interference, and therefore human error and streamlines operations to improve efficiency and decrease waste to maximize profits.

Convenience Is Key

The primary allure of takeout is convenience, and any way to increase convenience for the customer will increase the overall guest experience.

Along with mobile ordering, curbside pickup is an additional, but expected perk, allowing customers to enjoy a contactless experience while avoiding the hassle of a busy restaurant. Many diners are still hesitant to enter a restaurant, and curbside pickup ensures that customers can safely and comfortably enjoy a takeout meal.

Taking takeout a step further, take-home meal kits have been hugely successful during the pandemic. These meal kits allow customers to recreate their favourite meals at home, while limiting restaurant food waste as operators create and spotlight dishes using their extra inventory.

Some restaurants have also created a marketplace to sell individual ingredients, sauces, and more to reduce food waste and increase revenue. This model is hugely beneficial to both restaurants and customers alike, as it adds another layer of convenience for the guests.

Managing and analyzing inventory is a daunting task for any kitchen worker, but advanced technology can make this process easy. In order to customize and easily modify any dishes on offer based on inventory, integrated POS and online ordering systems are essential  for making changes in real-time and accessing updated inventory reports.

Takeaway Is Here To Stay

Even as restrictions ease, the popularity of takeout during the height of the pandemic has continued, becoming ingrained into people’s habits and routines. Restaurants now have an opportunity to look back and take note of what they learned during that time, and how it can be utilized now to reach a wider diner base, retain their customers and ultimately, keep guests happy and satisfied.

Mo Chaar is the Chief Commercial Officer of Givex, where he oversees commercial strategy and development worldwide as well as managing sales teams within North America. His experience in gift card, loyalty, and POS has played a pivotal role in the success of some of Givex’s largest partners.

The Takeaways from Takeaway

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