How COVID-19 changing our dining behaviour and ways to adapt to the changes


Singapore went through the COVID-19 crisis and finally we are seeing some light at the end of the tunnel. Over the last 10 months, many businesses are affected and there was a period of several months that we have to stay at home and minimise our trip out of the house. As a business, and the consumers it has shape our behaviour and leave a long lasting behavioural changes on how we dine and how restaurant adapt to this changes.


Of course, not all the changes are permanent. But when Singapore and few other countries are doing better than average compare to the world, COVID-19 is still a threat and no one is exempted from the threat of next wave of infection. And it has also leave us a lesson that open borders play an important part of the world economic.


In this articles, we would like to share our opinion about few changes that shape the dining behaviour from 2020 and onwards.


The need to change for F&B businesses


Talking about F&b scene in Singapore context, we all know that Singapore is one of the most internationalised city state that offering diversify choices of foods. The restaurants, pub, bistro, global franchise brand, cafe, hawker and traditional local Singaporean or Peranakan food that symbolic the rich heritage of Singapore culture. It is one of the reason that tourists around the world gather here to try them apart from the convenience of Singapore being a key air travel hub bridging east and west, north and south.


It change drastically since 2020 since COVID-19 breaking out to the world...


Restaurant restricted for dine in services for prolong periods, and most eateries restrict number of patron who waiting to buy their food and go. Some F&b business even considered as high risk for disease transmission and force to cease operation entirely. The abrupt changes leave them with no choice but struggle to adapt and staying afloat just to make marginal revenue.


The restaurants mostly affected by the situation were the one that has not adopting technology and unable to engage their customer due to the restriction imposed. And it is a clear sign that restaurants need modern solution such as cloud based POS with integrated online ordering systems to engage their customer outside of restaurants.


Few of the digital ordering solutions including major food aggregators are flaring exceptionally well between 2nd and 3rd quarters. Restaurants equipped with integrated online ordering systems showing significantly lesser revenue declined compared to the one without the necessary technology put in-place.


What can F&b business do to future proof their business


1. Cloud based POS system for F&B business

The benefits of cloud based POS is not new. Native cloud POS system has proven benefits on many aspects such as lower start up cost, easy to install, easy to use, high scalability, strong data security and better business continuity. In contradict, the conventional POS is lacking of connectivity and usually running as standalone system that can only access physically at the POS machine.


Without the ability to connect, conventional POS cause more disadvantages to restaurant owner than just the presumption of cost saving. Even if we look at the cost saving statement, conventional POS still come with annual maintenance fees which is a form of recurring, and the high upfront cost paid for hardware and perpetual software licenses tilted the ROI so much and put your upfront investment into unfavourable position as a business owner.


In contradict Cloud POS systems using technology that evolved from Internet and also posses the offline capability to safe guard from unplanned Internet disruption. It is usually built on top of highly reliable platform such as Apple iOS or Android, which already fortified on data security, cyber attack and has official integration built by POS hardware manufacturer such as Epson, Star Micronics, Bixolon, Socket mobile and more.


As a result, native cloud based POS is a better choice to upgrade your restaurant POS system to future proof your F&b business.


2. Restaurant digital ordering for delivery and take away



Online ordering is one of the most sought after POS solution upgrade during COVID-19 Circuit Breaker period. The reason that restaurant looking for online food ordering is obvious, for restaurant who has already selling in food aggregator platform (GrabFood, FoodPanda and Deliveroo) have to pay for a very high commission fees to the platform operators while customer will bear the delivery fees.


It become not sustainable for F&b business where revenue decline by 53% and the remaining orders are dependent on food aggregators. And some restaurant rotating the staffs to deliver food to customer who order through phone or messaging. But the surge of orders (during lunch or dinner peak) via these channels become messy and hard to manage.


F&b owner started to look out for alternative solutions and found online ordering systems as a viable option for diner to order and pickup, order and deliver to them via 3rd party delivery platform, or order and deliver by the restaurant staffs.


And with an POS with online ordering system, it streamline the order to fulfil process with better accuracy and significant reduction of manual tasks to re-enter the online orders into POS and forward to kitchen for food preparation. So the restaurant are able to take in more orders and improve it revenue. With the increase of productivity, reduction of cost, it create a better and sustainable business model compare to food aggregator model.


3. Restaurant digital ordering for dine-in




F&b business going through one of the most volatile year in history during Circuit Breaker and after Circuit Breaker measure. When restaurants and eateries granted to receive dine-in customer, they need to comply with social distancing measure and that basically reduce the capacity of the restaurant and directly affecting their revenue.


The dine-in self ordering technology fill this gap by providing customer conveniences to order without relying on waiters. And it is a practical solutions with benefits to improve dining experience for customers, reduce risk of infection for waiters and diners, and reduce staffing dependency during peak hours.


Dine-in self ordering integrated with POS system and kitchen display system. Waiter will issue a QR code to customer which they can use it to place order and send directly to kitchen. Once the food is ready, waiter will serve to the customer, and customer can add additional order and call for the bill or make payment at the digital ordering platform.


The QR code will expired once customer make payment for the bill to prevent from accidentally sending order to kitchen after the diner left the restaurant.


4. Food aggregators platform integration with POS


Although that the food aggregators platform take up substantial portion of the revenue from restaurant, but it is still a good channel to sell for certain food such as bubble tea or beverages. Food aggregators pricing model works well for longer distance delivery such as restaurant with island wide delivery.


Selling through food aggregator platform added substantial burden to the restaurant because they are not integrated with POS and have to manually key into the POS system and consolidated to the kitchen for food preparation. The workload multiply by the number of food aggregator that restaurant sell.


With the POS system that integrated with food aggregator platform, it save up a lot of time on menu and pricing management, orders consolidation and streamline the process for kitchen and fulfilment to customers. And it also provide much cleaner P&L for the accounting.


When upgrading your restaurant POS system, this feature is one of the key consideration that help you to streamline your operation and accounting process.


Highlights

  • Native cloud POS system provide better scalability for restaurant to cope with changes.

  • Native cloud POS with digital ordering for take out and delivery increase restaurant ability to engage with customer beyond the restaurant to future proof its business

  • Dine-in self ordering (BYOD) technology save cost and reduce staffing dependencies and give restaurant better revenue

  • Integration with food aggregators streamline the operations and give restaurant better opportunity to adapt to new regulations


Benefits of digital ordering platform


1. Digital ordering for waiter


Digital ordering for waiter is a new name for eWaiter, mobile POS for waiter, mPOS or waiter ePOS. Simply put, it is a tablet computer that allow waiter to take order and replace the traditional pen and paper methods.


Using mPOS has a few advantages,

  • Waiter is train to serve customer and giving client best recommendation and dining experience. With eWaiter system, they are connected to the POS system and it virtually multiply the channel for simultaneous ordering by number of available eWaiter systems.

  • Because it is the extension of POS, waiter ePOS provide the same function as the POS systems and immediately capture the orders from customer and send to kitchen. So all waiter ePOS is synchronise and showing real time status of every tables in a restaurant.

  • Some mPOS is integrated with payment capability, that further enhance "Pay at table" function to allow multiple waiters to process payment at the same time. This give diner better experience by reducing the waiting time after they finish the meal and call for bill.

Although mPOS has proven success to help in restaurant operation, mPOS require physical hardware and operate by waiters. So it is still limit by the number of hardware available or waiters. Restaurant can only scale by adding more staff or mPOS to expand the order channel.


2. Digital ordering for take out and delivery


Online ordering for take out and delivery help restaurant to comply to social distancing regulation by offering an ordering channel for them to place order online and pickup from restaurant, or place order online and deliver the food to them. This technology has significant benefits helping restaurant to generate extra income without heavy investment.


We provide some advantages by using online ordering,

  • Restaurant extend its offering beyond physical location to target on nearby customers. With online food ordering site, it create a convenience to nearby offices to be able to order and pickup which save them time from queuing. One good example is the Starbuck online ordering app, which allow you to place order before arriving at the cafe and skip the queue.

  • Online food ordering also provide convenience to restaurant and save up a lot of time to take orders. Since the customer has already order through the online ordering platform, cashier just need to verify the order and fulfil the item. This is especially useful for salad stores, yogurt shop or bubble tea kiosk where the product consists of complex customisation.

  • More advanced online ordering systems will have scheduling capability, and pair up with POS system. This is important because customer will assume that restaurant is in service when they can order and make payment. If the online ordering platform does not have the ability to block the order it will cause bad experience to customer who placed order without know the restaurant is closed. And it add unnecessary work for restaurant to cancel and call customer. That is the main different between eCommerce platform that use for retail vs. online ordering for restaurant.

  • With integration with delivery platform, online ordering system will synchronise order details to delivery platform automatically and save time to manually coordinate with food delivery company for pickup and verified if order has been dispatched to customer.

  • Online order generally cost lesser than food aggregators services and we are comparing 1~5% + delivery fees vs. 30% + delivery fees. The substantial saving means more revenue to restaurant whether it is short or long run.

  • Saving time to prepare menu on different platform. Integrated online ordering with POS system synchronise the menu automatically which save up a lot of time for restaurant. Some online food ordering platform even allow different tier pricing for dine-in or online.

  • It replace expensive Self Service Kiosk by lowering the upfront and maintenance cost and expand to allow multiple customers to order simultaneously.

It is low cost and low entry barrier to start with a POS system that has online ordering capability. Eats365 POS for example, even provide a free version that startup or small F&b business can use. It is significantly better than conventional POS in terms of cost, functionality and scalability.


3. Digital ordering system for dine-in


Dine-in self ordering provide significant benefits for diner, by reducing the waiting time and dining experience. The advancement of smartphone with bigger and clearer screen, more powerful processing power and vibrant colour provide a good condition for diner to browse the restaurant menu using their own devices. And most diner are happy to adapt the new technology as it give them flexibility to place order without having to wait for the waiters.


Dine-in BYOD technology improvise dining experiences on following areas,

  • The BYOD ordering allow simultaneous orders from all diners where it work best for restaurant during full house and short of waiters. One of the common complaints from diners is to wait for someone to come to take their orders and in average, diners can wait up to 30 minutes during lunch or dinner peak. With BYOD ordering technology, waiter can focus on other tasks and diner can place order when they are ready.

  • Instead of using eMenu systems which incur high cost for hardware and subscription licenses, BYOD provide the same functionality but fraction of cost. And benefits to have unlimited scalability even at the busiest time for the restaurant.

  • Waiter get to up-sell or recommend dishes to diner rather than taking orders. This is a major paradigm shift for restaurant because it help to forge a relationship between the restaurant with value add services.

  • POS system and BYOD ordering system integrated is the best model for Singapore restaurant to save cost, increase productivity and reduce staffing dependency.

4. Food aggregators integration with POS system


Food aggregators integration with POS system streamline the operation process for restaurant. The integration allow order details to sync to the POS system and channel to kitchen for preparation and also help to provide more accurate P&L data to the restaurant.


Here are some benefits that we like share,


  • Integration between food aggregators platform and POS system means no more manual data entries. Without the integration cashier is require to enter the order details from Grabfood, FoodPanda and Deliveroo into the POS so that it will send to the kitchen. During peak hours, cashier is unable to cope with the workload and it built up backlog. As a results we often see that the delivery agents are queuing up in front of the restaurant to wait for the food.

  • Food aggregators is convenience to customers, and it help to generate the demand from these channels. But the food aggregators model only benefits food aggregators at restaurant expenses. And this expenses usually came from the operational staffs, and back end calculation. With the integration with food aggregator platform, it help them to see a clearer P&L and able to plan for alternative than over relying on food aggregators platform.

Some food aggregators platform are still not providing open API and only making it available exclusively for some solution partners. Food aggregator company should consider to open up their API for public access so that it will benefits the F&b ecosystems. While Singapore is marching toward digitalisation, it is even more important to make that as a requirement for food aggregator to comply to certain requirements for the benefits of Singapore F&b industry.


Why Eats365 is the top choice for restaurant POS system upgrade


Eats365 gaining popularity in Singapore in a relatively short period of time. The main reason is because it is one of the F&b software that consists of most complete functionality and with greatest platform stability. Eats365 currently serving 20 countries and over 2,500 customers. Singapore is one of the country that eats365 is gaining popularity with increasing trends.


We like to share the digital ordering capabilities that Eats365 provides below,


  • Eats365 provide integrated online ordering platform that work with Eats365 POS

  • Eats365 online ordering provide one of the lowest MDR in Singapore without any additional subscription fees

  • Eats365 online ordering coupled with POS system to automated the online ordering availability. It switch off when it is outside of the restaurant operation hours

  • Integration with delivery partners to offer food delivery services for restaurant who need more than pickup services

  • Comprehensive lead time and other time setting for both pickup and delivery services

  • Deep integration with delivery partners to offer additional info such as ETA and real time present location tracker

  • Eats365 provide rider information to add additional layer of security to customer