Restaurant guest management platform Sevenrooms today released a Contactless Order & Pay system for restaurants as businesses get set to reopen under new social distancing guidelines and regulations. The new system “aims to ease consumer hesitation around dining out,” according to an email sent to The Spoon.
Since Sevenrooms is first and foremost a tech company, it will obviously be using technology to minimize person-to-person contact in an effort to make dining rooms safer places once they reopen.
The new contactless system includes a digital menu as well as ordering and payment functionality customers can access with their own devices by one of three ways: scanning a QR code, using near-field communication (NFC), or going to a URL. Importantly, there is no need for customers to download any additional apps, something that would only add confusion and extra steps to the process.
Ideally, this setup will mean restaurants do not have to hand physical menus out to guests, and that items like order tickets and credit cards won’t pass from one person to the next, potentially spreading infectious germs along the way.
The idea isn’t specific to Sevenrooms. In its reopening guidelines for restaurants, the National Restaurant Association said that “Contactless payment systems, automated ordering systems, mobile ordering apps, website updates and simple texts can help you to communicate and conduct business with reduced need for close contact.”
Other industry figures agree. Seated cofounder and chairman Bo Peabody, who also sits on the task force in charge of restaurant reopening guidelines for the state of Georgia, told me recently that contactless payments are one of the most important pieces of tech a restaurant can invest in right now and that by the end of next year, “putting your credit card down will be a thing of the past.”
He added, however, that most restaurants right now are not equipped to easily switch to contactless ordering and payments. Making the process of adoption easier and affordable will be a major factor restaurant tech companies like Sevenrooms must consider if they truly want to help restaurants through the reopening process.
Sevenrooms joins other restaurant tech companies pivoting to offer contactless order and payment capabilities. This week, Presto released its own version of a contactless order and pay tech bundle. Paytronix, which raised $10 million in April, has also added an online order platform and touchless payments to its tech stack.
A subject we land on frequently these days is exactly how relevant will front-of-house restaurant tech companies be as more dining rooms reopen with limited seating capacity and consumers cautiously venture out to eat. The growing number of companies offering contactless order and payment options makes me think that the debate isn’t around whether these companies will remain relevant. Rather, the ones that can present restaurants with the most helpful, hassle-free ways to go contactless will be the ones the industry finds most valuable going forward.