How will we return?

The world has been turned on its head and the past month has seen us all impacted. Many of the businesses and organisations we work with, across multiple sectors, have been affected in some way. Those in hospitality have temporarily shut down. Larger businesses, with shared on-site facilities, now sit empty as the majority of staff are either furloughed or working from home.

Although we know that lockdown will continue for some time, we also know that these restrictions will start to be lifted at some point in the future. We’ve all started to muse about what the ‘return’ could look like. At some point, employees will return to their offices again. Consumers will start eating and drinking out. We will start returning to our lives in some way.

But how will we start to go back? How will we interact with each other? How will businesses re-start? What will the ‘next normal’ look like?

We at Systopia are looking forward to coming out the other side. We’ve always been forward thinking and that is what we’re doing now – looking ahead to what might change and how we can all be prepared.

A different way to interact

We’ve been listening to others within the industry and hearing how things may be tackled when we all start to interact again. What seems to be clear is that we won’t be back to what we were for some time. People will be naturally seeking ways to maintain some level of social distancing where they can, and businesses will be seeking ways to ensure their employees feel they can return to the workplace in a way that feels safe.

It will be in the coming weeks that facilities managers and hospitality teams working across sectors including B&I, Hospitality and Education start to think about how ‘new’ environments can be created so we’re ready for when the lock down is lifted.

Adapting the environment

The tech products that can help bring these new environments to life are actually already being embraced by many businesses – and have been long before the crisis.  Click and collect services have been offered at supermarkets for years. Self-service kiosks have been seen in retail outlets, fast-food restaurants, work-place dining areas, even libraries for some time. Cashless payments have long been the norm.

Although embraced largely for the superior customer experience, tech minimises human-to-human contact – part of our ‘everyday’ post-crisis.

Online ordering

Operators are considering the tech solutions with many voicing that online ordering will be the ‘next normal’ across the industry. Online ordering via an app or website is being seen as the future. Facilities managers and the hospitality sector are looking to this as a viable way operations can re-open and business can re-start without compromising the wellbeing of their people.

This optionallows food and beverages to be ordered in advance, on a consumer’s own personal smartphone or laptop, and then collected or delivered at a chosen time. This removes human-to-human contact, ensures control over numbers of people at any one time, allows for enhanced hygiene measures to be implemented at all times and can help encourage increased business.

Wellbeing – of both your people and your business

For many businesses revenue has either completely stopped or reduced significantly, and building this back up will be paramount to helping the economy get back on its feet as swiftly as possible. Online ordering isn’t just a ‘solution for post-crisis’; it’s a viable way of operating full stop. It gives us all an opportunity to not only take care of our people, but also our business.

It allows us to operate in the ‘new normal’ including:

Capacity control: Consumers can select their designated collection or delivery time at the point of ordering, meaning operators can manage the number of people collecting at any one time and keep within capacity limitations.

Digitalised displays: An optional digital display can also be positioned at the collection point so customers can instantly see when their order is ready for collection and picked up with no human contact at all, encouraging a sanitary and healthy environment for all.

Payment: Can be taken at the point of ordering online, removing not only the handling of cash at pick-up but also any contact at all with regards phone or card payment. With cash payments being discouraged across all retail outlets, this is seen as a further sign of a healthy environment.

Integrated loyalty: Loyalty programmes can be integrated into the online ordering system, encouraging customer retention. These can be tailored to suit the organisation, such as a point-based system where users can then redeem points against a purchase in the future or a ‘buy one get one free’ offer.

Allergens: Allergens can be managed via the online ordering system. If a consumer with a dairy-allergen orders a dish with dairy in it, a warning can flash up preventing them from proceeding helping to keep consumers as safe as possible.

Increased operational efficiencies: Online ordering reduces the amount of pre-prepared food required and therefore staffing resources can be optimised. It also greatly reduces – if not removes all together – any waste as food prep is linked to actual orders placed.

Less pressure, more time to choose

Although implementing online ordering systems is being touted as the main operational focus post-crisis, as part of the mix self-serve kiosks are likely to play a role together with enhanced hygiene measures, such as users wearing gloves to touch the ordering screens.

Those that have these installed in their dining areas report basket sizes increasing by 15% on average. When consumers feel under less pressure to choose their food options quickly, due to a growing queue behind them, they dwell more. When they dwell more, they select more. Promotions can also be displayed at the right point of purchase, as well as precise product and allergen information being given on the screen. All of which can be deliberated in the consumer’s own time.

How can this be done?

Integrating online ordering and self-service kiosks into an existing set-up is easy to do. But there isn’t a ‘one size fits all’ answer. There are many factors to consider, all of which are bespoke to how each business or organisation operates.

There are however some general ‘rules of thumb’ that can be considered such as positioning the collection point or kiosk away from an already busy area to avoid unnecessary congestion and giving consumers the choice of either online ordering or kiosk, so they are seen an options as opposed to requirements.  

Getting ready for return

Although none of us can operate right now, we can start planning and preparing for our return and what that could look like. When we’re given the green light to re-open, we want to be able to go. Not wait longer while we get our environment ready.

We’ve been given the gift of time; whether we want it or not. Let’s use it wisely. Let’s consider our environment. Let’s start exploring options. Let’s get ourselves in the best shape possible, so that when we do return we’re in a position to get back on our feet and recover from this period as swiftly as we can.

We’re here to help. We’re offering free, no obligation, consultations with our team who are happy to discuss options with you and help you get your business or organisation ready to re-start again.