Curbside pickup and delivery are here to stay. Can your technology keep pace?

In March 2020, as initial responses to the COVID-19 pandemic began to take shape, one thing that quickly became clear was the impact that the pandemic would have on the quick-serve restaurant (QSR) industry. The first wave of lockdowns and other restrictions severely tested the operational capabilities of most QSRs. Then, as the pandemic spread, shifting customer behaviors created new challenges as people began to adapt to limitations on dine-in options.

Almost immediately, QSRs saw a massive increase in demand for takeout business, curbside pickup, and home delivery as customers’ preferred dining options.

Initially, it was hard to know if changes in customer behavior and the growth in curbside pickup and delivery would be sustained, or if it was just a short-term adaptation that would eventually return to pre-pandemic levels. As restrictions eased and dine-in options returned, however, it became clear that the QSR model has changed permanently.

Recent research reveals that 54% of people surveyed have used one or more restaurant delivery options since COVID-19 began, and 46% report that they’ve used curbside pickup *. So, it’s no surprise that many QSRs are seeing a massive surge in traffic and orders for curbside pickup and delivery.

Today, QSRs are settling into new operating models that account for growing numbers of customers who are picking up digital orders in person, as well as those who prefer curbside pickup or home delivery. This puts more emphasis than ever on the efficiency and convenience of the systems that QSRs have been using to fulfill customer orders.

Initially, as the pandemic took hold, many QSRs were stuck using existing systems that simply weren’t up to the increased volumes that they were starting to see. That resulted in added labor costs, longer waits for customers, and a negative impact on the bottom line.

For most QSRs, the key to enabling seamless pickup and delivery options lies in their technology systems. They recognize the need for fully integrated point-of-sale, mobile computing, and data capture systems that allow them to collect, process, and manage their digital orders as effectively as possible. Accordingly, many operators are taking a long look at their existing systems to determine if they really have the tools they need to ensure inventory is in place, to fill orders efficiently, and to provide safe, convenient service.

When leading QSR chains and independent restaurants determine that their existing technology systems limit the efficiency and convenience of their curbside pickup and delivery options, many look at new solutions based on industry-proven mobile technology and data capture systems from Zebra. They’re finding that implementing Zebra technologies helps them transform their businesses to meet changing customer demands, fulfill new safety expectations, and stay ahead of their competition.

Zebra’s portfolio of best-in-class solutions includes mobile computing, barcode scanning, barcode labeling, and RFID tools that are designed to integrate easily with QSR systems and enable more automated and streamlined workflows for curbside pickup or delivery.

For example, many QSRs are combining Zebra’s TC52 touch computer or ET5X tablet with a Zebra ZQ110 mobile printer to create an integrated system that allows them to manage curbside orders, process payments, print receipts on the spot, and deliver exceptional customer service. Others are choosing Zebra’s touch computers or rugged tablets as multipurpose devices that support mobile customer service in the front of the house while also providing the built-in barcode scanning capabilities they need to manage backroom inventory.

The key step is to realize that the QSR model has changed forever, and new technology can give you the flexibility you need to keep pace.

Regardless of how you’re managing pickups or deliveries at your restaurants, Macro Integration Services and Zebra can deliver a range of QSR technologies that adapt to virtually any workflow and help keep your operations running smoothly. Contact us today!