As summer continues and outdoor dining hits its peak, restaurant operators can and should use their tech stack to create a high-tech, low-touch dining experience. According to a 2022 report by OpenTable, 82% of diners want restaurants to continue to increase outdoor dining following the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic. Last year, 90% of restaurants reported experiencing a decline in customer demand for indoor dining because of the omicron variant. With colder weather right around the corner for many parts of the country, now is the time for restaurant owners to utilize their POS technology to maximize outdoor dining profits and capitalize on the end-of-summer season.
A Positive, Low-Touch Restaurant Experience
When it comes to outdoor dining, it is important that the consumer experience is no different than it would be inside the four walls of the establishment. An omnichannel POS system can help to streamline front- and back-of-house processes to increase employee workflow and production efficiency. This high-tech strategy will ensure that all orders are processed effectively to avoid dropped orders or human error.
Additionally, in a post peak-COVID world, many customers are still more comfortable with low-touch dining experiences that minimize the risk of infection. With an integrated, omnichannel POS system, restaurant owners can tap into high-tech features like QR codes (for menu viewing), cashless payment options and kiosk ordering (including at the table) to enable a low-touch experience for diners.
Actionable Insights Gathered by POS Data
The data collected by an omnichannel POS system can also play a significant role in maximizing an outdoor patio’s potential ROI. Operators can tap into POS data to leverage personalized loyalty programs that draw diners in and allow the restaurant to offer up "live" on-site promotions and seasonal offers tailored to each diner's preferences.
One way to leverage data is to review sales trends from previous years to determine which items were the hottest sellers during past summers and create an exclusive menu with specials — whether it be refreshing spritzes, oyster specials or light salads — that specifically attract customers to the outdoor seating area.
Personalized Promotions Served Up Digitally
Once operators know which items draw the biggest crowds during the summer season, they can also utilize their POS system to create calculated promotions by first determining where to implement price cuts without negatively impacting the bottom line. An omnichannel POS will provide operators with valuable inventory data that can be analyzed to determine the most affordable items and incorporate those findings into creating patio-friendly LTOs or promotions.
From there, restaurant owners can leverage their POS-integrated loyalty program platforms and mobile apps to ensure those promotions are getting in front of the right customers. This will drive more guests and sales to the restaurant and specifically encourage outdoor dining because of the specialized menus.
Customer behavior will likely never fully return to normal following the COVID-19 pandemic, and the ongoing demand for high-tech and low-touch outdoor dining is a prime example of what today’s diners crave. With the right POS system, restaurant owners have an invaluable tool to help drive outdoor sales and maximize revenue through the summer season and beyond.
About the Author
Mo Chaar is Chief Commercial Officer at Givex. Since joining Givex in 2007, Chaar has helped the company expand its North American footprint. His experience in gift card, loyalty and POS has played a pivotal role in the success of some of Givex’s largest partners.