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Tips on How Cafés Can Thrive In a Social Distancing Environment

If the current COVID-19 pandemic has taught us anything, it is certainly the fact that we should take nothing for granted. Returning to life before COVID is going to be different for some time to come. To adapt to the current situation and to help with our mental and physical wellbeing during social distancing, technology has become the “go to” tool, and most interactions with friends and family are happening online.

Cafés can tap into our increased reliance on technology by using an online food ordering system to help them thrive as a business, especially in a time where social distancing guidelines remain in force. Let’s have a look at how café owners can transition to increasing takeaway and delivery orders.

All systems go

Financial forecasting shows that the food to consumer delivery via online platforms is set to increase in Australia by 7%. Customers are increasing their search for businesses who provide an online food ordering system so the first thing to check is whether your café is geared up for takeaways and deliveries via digital orders. This starts by reviewing what point of sale system is in place and if it’s able to seamlessly link orders placed online to the payment point, alerting the staff to prepare the food and drink and also prompting updates for your stock inventory so that you never go short. This is the time to review your current POS system, or to get one in place.

Safe and sound

Check out the physical layout of the premises to allow for a click and collect type service for takeaway service. Consumers need to know that once they have placed an order using their mobile device, not only will it be ready for them in a timely manner, but also, they can collect it safely during this pandemic. Having a one-way system in place for customers entering and leaving the café, hand sanitisers and wipes available, as well as a screen protection shielding between the staff member and customer, is very important. Payment in advance via your POS system means no contact between staff and customer and gives everyone confidence that your business is safe to use. Ensure that you have identified both via your website and ordering system as well as signage on the premises, the safety measures you have in place.

Promote your social distancing strategy

Footfall on all businesses has decreased and it will take time to build up that clientele. Some states and territories are reviewing lockdown procedures and returning back to normal openings could be delayed. For small to medium business owners, this is time and lost revenue they cannot afford. Transitioning to deliveries and takeaway food orders for cafés has never been easier provided they have the right online food ordering system in place.

Advertising this service is the next step and making sure that consumers know about the safe measures taken to prepare, package and deliver food. This means investing in tamper-proof containers, sorting out couriers or delivery services who are trained in contactless delivery. Showcase the training that staff have undertaken and the clean kitchen environment and premises to engender reassurance. Payment online through the POS system means safe payment methods and with money up front, the café does not have problems with placed orders that are never followed up by the customer. Once the logistics have been organised, spread the news through all the social media platforms the business has in place. Promotions such as money off vouchers for the first 10 online deliveries could also be used or other consumer loyalty rewards as you build up this side of the business. The right POS system captures customer data which will inform the next stage of your marketing strategy.

Review the menu

Take a careful look at the current menu delivered in house and review whether that is the right sort of food and drink that will be suitable for a delivered service or a takeaway. This food showcases the café so if your top menu item is ordered online and delivered to a customer at their home, does it still look, feel and taste as though it has come straight from the café kitchen? Will it maintain its ambient temperature given the boxes or containers you are planning to use? Does it still maintain its fresh and crisp appearance without leaks or drips? Not all food items or drinks lend themselves to deliveries or takeaways, so consider this and review what items you are going to be able to offer.

Review the staffing structure

Staff are going to be concerned about their jobs as the economy is hit by the recent pandemic as well as worried about their own health and safety. Employees are the one of the best ways of promoting the business and they need to be trained and prepared for the changes being made. They also need to understand why these changes are happening in order to ensure the business thrives and therefore retain jobs. Online ordering will increase so they need to be geared up for this, the way food is handled and packaged will change and they may be working with an external delivery company. Or if you go for in-house delivery, this could be an opportunity for some staff to step up in other ways. Either way, bring your employees along with you as you move forward to what will be the “new normal” for cafés for some time to come.

For advice on the right POS system for you, speak to one of our experts today. If you’re interested in creating or optimising your online menu, and opening up your café to online sales, and takeaway and delivery functionality, speak to our friendly and experienced team here at Abacus. We are currently providing our Online Ordering platform with NO upfront cost and $0 ongoing monthly fees on top of your regular Abacus POS subscription. The only additional cost to you is a small 5% transaction fee.

Submit your interest here or email us at and our product specialists will reach out to you to discuss how we can help your business in these tough times. Alternatively, give us a call on (03) 9017 2792.

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