Necessity is the mother of invention. Covid-19 has had an unprecedented impact on every facet of modern life, fundamentally altering our working and living patterns, and moving mountains in the business landscape. Born out of a need to make sense of things, these radical changes to the world have been accompanied by a new collective vocabulary to describe the ever-developing events: lockdown, superspreader, furlough, self-isolate, social distance, circuit-breaker, PPE, R number, bubble, variant, roadmap. The list undoubtedly goes on.
The pandemic’s far-reaching effects have been strongly felt in the UK hospitality industry, as efforts to control the virus and mitigate its risks have led to curbs on everyday culture. Accordingly, as it has adapted to new realities and circumstances, the hospitality sector has also been subject to so-called ‘Coronaspeak’, with Eat Out to Help Out, the rule of six, and household mixing all entering the sometimes confusing equation.
For hospitality operators, though, one term has dominated more than any other: Order & Pay. Alongside the now ubiquitous ‘QR code’, Order & Pay has landed in the industry lexicon with a bang, as linguistic shifts have clearly been matched by technological shifts. Yet, despite its prevalence, it is not necessarily immediately clear what the term actually means. Team Ordamo are here to cut through the noise and explain how ‘Order & Pay’ has put a ding in the Food & Beverage universe.
What is it?
The nuts and bolts
Since ancient times, not much has changed in the transactional ordering process, whether you were a Roman grabbing a vino from the taverna in 219 BC or a Brit sitting down for an Italian in 2019. Order & Pay takes that traditional ordering process, comprised of paper menus, waiters writing tickets, and multiple staff trips between front and back of house, and makes it digital. The clue is in the name; an Order & Pay platform gives customers the ability to use their mobile device to view menus, order their food and drinks, and then pay the bill. Thanks to some nifty software, we’ve gone from the Stone Age to the superfast era.
Most commonly, customers scan a QR code to initially access the digital menu, which is cloud-based i.e. available to users on demand via the Internet. The QR code avoids the need to download anything, which can be a frustrating barrier to entry for many. By pointing their phone at the displayed QR code, customers are taken to a webpage with the menu loaded up. From the comfort of their table, they are then free to browse the menu.
Once the customer has selected their menu items and hit send, their order is routed to either an integrated Point of Sale system or to tablets in the kitchen and bar. Depending on the setup, tickets can also be printed, preserving the familiar way of doing things for the back of house. Kitchen staff can then prepare the order, and waiting staff can deliver it to the customer at the table. Staff don’t have to make repeat trips to and from tables, and customers don’t have to hang around to see a menu, order, or pay the bill. Instead, the whole process it at their fingertips.
The big picture
Essentially, this software solution puts the power in customers’ hands. Whereas, historically, a customer’s experience often involved waiting to be served, queuing at a busy bar, or awkwardly trying to catch the waiter’s eye, the new customer journey is simpler and smoother. Naturally, this has been invaluable as a result of Covid and the consequent need to reduce touch points and interactions between staff and guests. But, in the long term, this consumer-facing tech makes life easy for customers, providing real convenience; customers can get what they want, when they want it.
We now live in a mobile world. Using the device in your pocket, you can order an Uber, watch Netflix, listen to Spotify, browse ASOS, scroll through Instagram, FaceTime a friend, WhatsApp the group chat, pay at the checkout, tap in on the Tube, get directions, watch the football, read the newspaper, check your bank account, send an email, and do your weekly shopping. Everything is available, everywhere, instantly. This always-connected customer now expects total convenience, delivered digitally and in virtual realtime. Order & Pay scratches that itch in the hospitality world, filling the digital gap in the dining market.
Consumers are familiar with using their devices in similar scenarios: digital interactions with restaurants are now commonplace as a result of delivery aggregators such as Deliveroo, Just Eat, and Uber Eats. Catalysed by Covid, tech-savvy customers have new requirements, and Order & Pay can meet them.
How can it be used in your business?
Order & Pay gives a range of stakeholders genuine flexibility in their operations. While restaurants, cafes, and pubs may be the most obvious and frequent settings for the software, there is a wide variety of environments in which an ordering platform can be useful for different businesses. These include, but are not limited to: hotels, theatres, universities, schools, stadia, office spaces, and events catering, as well as trains, planes, and automobiles. Any venue, anywhere, can use Order & Pay, capitalising on the new efficiencies it brings and the revenue it unlocks. Crucially, deploying this tech as a key pillar of digital transformation strategy works because it is inherently future-based. A study at MIT found that companies that have embraced digital transformation are 26% more profitable than their peers.
Whether it’s Order at Table, Click & Collect, or Room Service, the tech provides convenience for customers and flexibility for operators. The software integrates with Point of Sale systems and the wider IT real estate, ensuring ease of adoption. Management dashboards give operators full visibility of orders and reporting, while automation means staff don’t have to worry about taking orders or accepting payments, and can instead be more customer centric, focusing on exactly what the customer needs, at the point they need it. In this sense, technology does’t have to dehumanise hospitality and erase the relationships that often generate such high quality experiences, but can actually liberate staff from mundane jobs and improve customer satisfaction.
What value does it provide?
There is a surge towards everything digital. In terms of change management, Covid has meant that primarily face-to-face hospitality businesses have become ones that deliver a digital service too; innovation cycles are now much faster, and digital transformation is rapidly becoming a business imperative. Most importantly, operators need a pulse on what the market wants and a firm understanding of changing customer behaviour. Consumers are beginning to expect Order & Pay as part of a modern, convenient experience. Meanwhile, from an operational perspective, the tech itself saves time and money, boosting revenue and opening up a world of data possibilities.
The bottom line-stimulate, support, and sustain growth
First and foremost, Order & Pay drives revenue growth. Upsells, item pairings, and enhanced menu browsing all combine to maximise the revenue potential of each and every guest journey, resulting in an 11% increase in average customer spend.
Just as significantly, in a post-Covid world where businesses are struggling with profitability and stubbornly high cost-income ratios, Order & Pay enables new cost levers. The software brings another level of cost savings thanks to more efficient staff management, data driven insights, and the transition from paper to pixels. Most simply, moving from paper to electronic menus provides digital flexibility: menus can be edited and updated in realtime, reflecting changes in stock and availability. This dynamic menu management contrasts with the hassle of printing, adjusting, and reprinting physical menus. In terms of organisational architectures, automation can reduce order processing length by up to 25 hours a week, and staff save crucial time. Streamlined workflows and processes enable significant improvements in speed of service, customer service quality, time management, and operational efficiencies, all in both meaningful and measurable ways.
Order & Pay acts as a digital gateway into a world of data, empowering businesses to get smarter with budget allocation, while minimising resource waste and reducing productivity loss. Everything from transaction level data to guest feedback reveals unique patterns and actionable insights. Crucially, if you can’t measure something, you can’t improve it, but digital ordering gives stakeholders true visibility: what dish is underperforming? Which hour of service is quietest? How long do orders take to get fulfilled? This ability to leverage data and quantify inefficiency enables businesses to make more confident decisions. Helpfully, Order & Pay is an easy springboard from which hospitality can join the tech revolution, thanks to synergies and integrations with a whole host of other software in the digital ecosystem: Point of Sale systems, guest reviews, reservation management, table booking, contactless check-in, membership clubs, loyalty schemes, recipe and cost management systems, property management systems. With different digital systems working together, it is easier than ever to gain a holistic, 360 view of customers and venues, driving greater levels of personalisation and engagement.
The new end-to-end ordering and payment journey is a real-world example of the technology transformation vision. Highly automated. Low cost. Innovative for customers and operators. While this tech may have been earmarked for the future, that future has come around faster than we all realised.