Article

Contactless Can Differentiate. Innovation is key.

Rakuten Ready

Posted by: Rakuten Ready / April 23, 2020

Contactless fulfillment of orders is now table stakes for all brands.  As we move into a new normal, it is critical for brands to think outside the box to thrive. Contactless is now required, but for a brand to stand out it needs to differentiate the experience by finding innovative solutions that continue to lower risk and create long-term loyalty while sustaining the business during these rough times.

Innovation will drive differentiation

Now is the time to think differently and stand out from the competition by creating innovative ways to help minimize risk for customers and the community, while helping your bottom line.

We’ve heard a lot about whether people would continue to order from businesses that are still open. Well, it is clear there is still support amongst consumers. Almost 69% of consumers have already supported local businesses with 82% planning to support businesses in the month of April.  It is now up to each business to find creative ways to capture these supportive customers. 

So what are some ways to innovate and differentiate with Contactless services? 

1) Allow scheduled shopping times

Grocers traditionally have not had to worry about limiting traffic in their stores. So while you can easily order online and schedule a curbside pickup, you cannot schedule a time to go inside the store to do your own shopping. However, doing so would allow grocers to better manage crowds while providing a more consistent and lower risk shopping experience for customers.

We have started to see this change with early morning hours now being reserved for seniors or customers at higher risk. But digital innovation is also happening with tools that allow customers to book specific shopping times at their favorite grocers.

OpenTable is now testing a tool that lets you reserve shopping times at supermarkets to help decrease overcrowding and make stores safer for shoppers. You simply choose a vacant time slot at a partner supermarket and other essential businesses, much like setting up a reservation at a restaurant.

Why does it matter

    • Reduce crowd sizes by spreading out on-site traffic over different days.
    • Minimize long lines to enter the premises or customers who rush to be first in line when the doors open.
    • Build customer loyalty by offering a more consistent experience.

2) Prepare to go meal kits

Restaurants have been one of the hardest-hit industries and in a struggle to stay afloat many establishments have started offering To Go Meal Kits that customers can heat up or make at home. The kits are typically larger portions sizes of their most popular meals.  They are ideal for customers who want to minimize time outside the home shopping, while for restaurants they can gain loyal customers who will order more frequently. Even grocers have gotten into the act.

San Antonio-based grocer H-E-B has partnered with award-winning chefs to offer top quality meals-to-go in 5 test markets. Each meal kit serves a family of four and can be bought in-store or picked up using Curbside. 

Shake Shack is even offering a DIY Burger Kit using all the same ingredients as the on-site experience. All you’ll need to do is BYO lettuce, tomato, and you’ll have everything you need to make a ShackBurger® meal from the comfort of your own kitchen. Customers can order online while still driving revenue directly to the restaurant. 

Restaurants are definitely benefiting from customers placing larger orders with an increase of 11% in Average Order Volume (AOV) week-over-week growth during March, according to data from Hathaway.

Why Does it Matter

    • Reduces the amount of time spent outside of the home shopping for family meals.
    • Drives repeat business by providing different meals that can be ordered weekly.
    • Increases revenue and AOV by offering higher-priced portion sizes.

3) Offer a meal program for health care workers

Donated meals are a new form of contactless delivery that allow health workers to benefit from community donated meals. Each meal delivery lowers their risk of being infected with COVID-19 by minimizing exposure to elevators or cafeteria lines to get food. It also lowers the risk of asymptomatic health care workers unknowingly entering a restaurant to place an order.

Restaurants initially started donating meals directly but many programs are now supported solely by customer donations. Meals are then prepared and dropped off at the hospital or clinic.

It is important to offer this type of program and look at this as a partnership with loyal customers. The effort is meant to lower contact risk and show appreciation to those on the front lines risking their own health. However, by providing many meals at a time, it can also help keep your business afloat by creating a new revenue stream for the restaurant.

North Carolina has created the “Feeding the Soul” campaign by partnering with local restaurants to provide meals to healthcare teams during the pandemic. Consumers just purchase meals through established partnerships with local restaurants and the nutritious meals are delivered every day, at no cost.

Uber announced plans to offer free meals to healthcare workers and first responders in April. They will give away over 300,000 meals to those on the front lines in the United States and Canada. Delivered by their drivers and minimizing the need for staff to enter local establishments for meals.

“While many local governments issued orders to close dine-in restaurants, the opportunity to keep feeding our neighbors means that a small sense of normalcy is still available to everyone.” Rich Allison, CEO, Dominos Pizza.

Why Does it Matter:

    • Reduces contact risk for health care workers since they can avoid the elevators, cafeteria, etc
    • Minimizes the risk an asymptomatic worker comes into a restaurant or retailer
    • Provides a way for customers to make a direct impact in their local community while creating a revenue opportunity for restaurants

Now is the time to innovate

At the very least, the behavior changes we see today suggest that things won’t immediately return to normal as the crisis ebbs. Contactless is providing an opportunity for the brands that can innovate around it to make it through the crisis stronger, better differentiated and more nimble than ever thought possible.

Rakuten Ready can help

We have never seen so much change, so quickly. Order for Pickup is now top of mind at every restaurant brand we talk to as it is one of the only options available to keep their businesses running. To do this, brands must make the fulfillment experience as efficient and safe as possible for customers and employees.

If you’re looking for a partner who has experience with brands of all sizes, we can help. Our Rakuten Ready ARRIVE product predicts customer arrival times so employees can optimize order throughput and provide a better, safer (ideally Contactless) fulfillment experience.

Connect with us to understand how ARRIVE can assist your brand through these troubling times.

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