The Post-COVID Future of Quick Service and Fast Casual Restaurants

As we start to think about life in a post-COVID world, one of the main questions is what part of our revamped lifestyles are here to stay? Financial crises, natural disasters, and societal developments always lead to innovation and transformation, and COVID-19 is no different. Among the trends that will be long-lasting is the shift away from touch-based interactions toward touchless ones. We believe that the future is touchless everything.

In the quick-serve restaurant (QSR) industry, touchless everything means the whole experience from ordering, menus, payment, drive-thru and pickup. As dining in has been limited, the demand for drive-thru and pickup has increased exponentially. Increased demand, though, has its downsides. Long lines mean poor customer experience and lost sales opportunities as drivers may be deterred from waiting.

In fact, according to one study, the use of digital menu boards, which shaves off 12.3 seconds of throughput, can result in nearly $28,000 in savings per location, equating to hundreds of millions of dollars for large QSRs. The reverse is true in an industry that saw wait times increase by nearly 30 seconds across the board. This means that digital innovation is key to removing friction from the ordering, payment, and pickup interactions so brands can serve more customers, faster and safer.

In addition to digital menus, the use of mobile technologies paired with biometrics provide other opportunities for improved customer experiences. For example, with facial recognition, a guest may simply drive-up to the digital menu and be automatically identified to gain access to personalized special offers, recall a previous order, redeem loyalty rewards and make a payment. This saves time and gives the customer the type of experience that drives incremental sales and creates strong brand loyalty.

Creating Wow Experiences with Facial Recognition

The NEC I:Delight platform is specially designed to create these wow experiences. Adding the I:Delight platform to new or existing apps is simple. Users can easily register by taking a quick selfie for their online profile to create a Digital ID. Once registered, they can simply log-in to the mobile app with their face, or in store at a kiosk, to place an order and approve payment using their secure Digital ID. If a guest is picking up their order in-person, a simple glance at a tablet can alert staff that they have arrived to ensure they receive their order quickly and safely.

Drive-Thru Ordering and Payment

The NEC I:Delight platform can also be incorporated at the drive-thru for enhanced, personalized service and operational efficiency. When a customer pulls-up to the drive-thru, the platform recognizes their Digital ID and alerts staff to the customer’s arrival. Stored preferences and targeted promotions appear on the digital menu screen, and staff can greet the customer by name. If a payment method is saved in the customer’s loyalty account, face verification or a saved PIN is all that is needed to complete the transaction.

According to a recent study commissioned by the Kellogg School of Management, Columbia Graduate School of Business and Harvard Business School, every 7 seconds saved in drive-thru wait times equates to about 1 percent increase in sales. This makes both the customer experience and business value benefit of the NEC I:Delight platform hard to overstate:

  • Increases throughput of customers with a more personalized experience.
  • Easily monitors customer purchasing behaviors to better anticipate customer needs and offer targeted promotions.
  • Brings up pre-order or previous order for faster transactions times, minimizing the time for order customizations.
  • Offers seamless, contactless payments for a faster and safer experience.

NEC is a trusted leader in facial recognition, ranked number one in biometric innovation by NIST for five consecutive years. With over 1,000 deployments in 70 countries around the world and $2.6 billion invested annually in research and development, NEC is the preferred partner for fast-casual restaurants looking for facial recognition-enabled solutions for an enhanced customer experience.

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4 Ways NEC is Reimagining the Store Experience

NEC Showcasing Innovations at NRF 2019: Retail’s Big Show

Facial recognition technology and data analytics continue to change the in-store experience for shoppers. These technologies enable a more-meaningful, personalized in-store shopping experience, while also making checkout and other in-store processes more cost effective and efficient for retailers and customers alike.

From Jan. 13-15, 2019, nearly 37,000 retailers and industry experts from around the world will descend on the Javits Convention Center in New York to attend NRF 2019, the world’s largest retail conference and expo. During the Big Show, NEC will showcase how facial recognition and data analytics are transforming four areas of the store experience, including Customer Experience, Operations, Analytics and Marketing. As soon as they step into booth #1936, visitors enter a virtual store to encounter first-hand a new, improved in-store experience, resulting in better engagement for customers and tangible business benefits for retailers.

Your Face is the ‘Key’ to Unlock a Personalized Experience

When entering the NEC booth, visitors self-register by providing only a photo and first and last names. No need to use personal mobile devices, cards or keys. This frictionless, near real-time pre-registration process enables multiple touchpoints and experiences throughout the NEC booth tour.

Online shoppers appreciate the convenience of automatic loyalty offers, and NEC will demonstrate a similar in-store experience through its virtual store. Once registered, visitors are easily and automatically identified as loyal customers as they progress through the booth tour. Personalized greetings will appear while moving through the demos. Instead of waiting until checkout to ID loyal customers (when it’s too late for meaningful customer engagement), automatic identification results in 100% loyalty redemption rates for in-store shoppers.

Technology Improves In-store Operational Management

Looking Customer Loyalty Right in the Face Further, booth visitors can also interact with the face-based kiosk, which is being used by NEC customers. The facial-recognition kiosk demonstrates how easy it is to deliver fast and truly frictionless transactions. Guests can peruse a menu, choose items and then pay for their virtual purchases without pulling out their wallets or personal devices. All you need is your face!

Big Show visitors will get a glimpse into how facial recognition assists retailers with business operations. NEC’s facial recognition solutions are real-time and provide retailers with an effective, transparent loss-prevention system. As someone approaches a surveilled area, for example, alerts are triggered on the analytics dashboards.

NEC will also be showing how retailers can use this same technology to manage employees’ time and attendance. In-store staff check in and check out using face recognition, thus preventing proxy check in and check out. Near real-time reporting is available with this system so that schedules can be easily coordinated.

Check out NEC Retail solutions to learn more.Additionally, visitors will have the opportunity to experience first-hand various models of NEC’s industry-leading point-of-sale hardware devices.

Booth “shoppers” can experience easy and deviceless checkout as well. Total expenditures and receipts show up on the wallboard next to the exit. No wallets or credit cards needed for this automated checkout experience.

Retailers Rely on Data Analytics to Tailor the Shopping Experience

For retail businesses, the ability to access up-to-the-minute sales data analytics helps them survive and thrive in this competitive marketplace. Reliable sales data and reporting enable retailers to make tailored in-store offers to their customers. Sales data aids in managing inventory plus helps store managers more effectively plan staffing, especially during critical times of high traffic. These benefits in turn elevate the customer shopping experience and help boost profitability in the store.

Analytics can also be used to track demographic and traffic data related to in-store shoppers. Stores have the capability to create heat maps to track and manage shoppers’ interest in various products or displays within the store. Advanced glance technology determines the amount of “dwell time” on items (such as a shelf display) by tracking interest and intent to purchase. This data can be matched to sales conversion data from the POS to judge the display’s effectiveness and use of shelf space.

The data gleaned from the in-person shopping experience helps retailers improve their outreach through targeted emails, app notifications and even in-store messaging.

Facial Recognition Software and Advanced Displays Expand In-store Marketing Capabilities

Using facial recognition systems aids retailers in recognizing repeat customers at a location without collecting any personally identifiable information. This information drives marketing content and analyzes purchase patterns.

NEC’s advanced display technology helps retailers improve their marketing efforts. Cameras capture customer data to be used for customized content distribution and for measuring message effectiveness. The technology also collects audience metrics automatically.

Want to know more about the exciting and industry-leading technology that NEC will be featuring at NRF 2019? Book a personal tour with an NEC retail expert while you’re attending the Big Show. Hope to see you there in January!

NEC Corporation of America

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Understanding Purpose Over Place in Retail

Choice is a good thing—especially if you’re a shopper. Today’s consumer seamlessly moves from online, in-store or a combination of the two when making purchases. For the traditional retailer, shopping options beyond the bricks-and-mortar store can feel intimidating.

Want advice on how to enrich your customer experience?To survive and thrive in this environment, in-store retailers must provide an experience that is different from the traditional, staid and disengaged experiences of the past. To bring shopping into the 21st century, retailers can take advantage of the latest technology to make shopping more convenient, secure and enjoyable for customers.

Changing the In-store Experience

To create a unique in-store experience, retail has become more niche and product-focused. Technology continues to play a big role in retail success by providing real value, not just cool hype.

Data visibility in the store also helps retailers dive deeper into captured data to uncover buying intentions. Stanchion™ Store software from NEC strives to help retailers better Know Your Customer to understand their objectives — or their purpose for being in the store — to make it easier for retailers to meet their needs and provide unique shopping experiences. Based on previous in-store shopping behavior or experiences, retailers can predict a shopper’s intentions.

Combining a 360-degree camera to monitor shoppers’ movements with video analytics helps retailers track gender, ages and number of visitors in their locations. This data enables stores to manage staff better, making sure the proper number of associates are on hand during peak traffic times.. Checkout how we enabled Becker’s Central Canada (Couche-Tard, Inc.) store owners to see up to-the-minute sales information for smarter product ordering and overall improved store efficiency.

NEC is working on a solutions to take store analystics a step further, by tyingdemographic data to POS transactions to allow retailers to better understand the kinds of customers they’re serving and what products are purchased. This information improves merchandising, store operations and customer interactions, such as determining which product displays appear to be most effective and which areas of the store experience the most traffic.Retailers can also use heat mapping to track a customer’s product engagement and “dwell times” at a particular display or locations in the store.

Improving the Omnichannel Experience

Consumers tend to want a combination of technology and human interaction while shopping. Research shows that many purchases begin with online browsing, followed by an in-store interaction. Improving a seamless omnichannel purchasing experience is one way traditional retailers can connect with their customers. In-store associates can provide more personalized service by knowing preferences through browsing history and offering convenient payment options.

Get a closer look at the Connected Consumer with this Infographic:

Cashless AND Card-less Payment Options

Easier payment processes are another important component of a seamless customer experience. One of the advantages of online shopping is easy check-out. As retailers turn to new methods of accepting and processing payments, the concept of waiting in a check-out line to pay may become obsolete.

Check out NEC’s mobile POS solutions

NEC’s facial recognition technology, can take it a step further toward eliminating not only cash payments, but even credit cards. Your own face becomes your currency. Payment through facial recognition offers several advantages. Authentication using facial images helps reduce potential fraudulent payments (added security) and eliminates the need to carry multiple forms of ID (more convenience). Since facial data is stored in numerical data, it’s difficult or even impossible for a data thief to actually the identify the faces. Additionally, facial recognition information can be stored in a way to make it accessible at a retailer’s multiple locations around the country.

Another shopping option uses an interactive projection system to enabling ordering, research or payment without a physical device being present. This is a perfect solution for restaurant tabletops or counters in hotel lobbies.

Future of Retailing

With increased consumer confidence, shoppers will continue to spend, both online and in store. In the near term, high-tech solutions will improve supply chain efficiency. Artificial-intelligence-powered chatbots and faster checkout through improved POS and other mobile devices will continue to improve the shopping experience.

To remain a viable option for shoppers, traditional retailers must continue to use technology to gain a deeper understanding of their customers’ preferences and shopping habits to provide a seamless, enjoyable in-store experience for their customers.

NEC Retail Solutions

Enriching the Customer Experience

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