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FROM THE BLOG  |  November 5, 2021

What Today’s Pandemic Trends Mean for the Future of Multi-Unit Restaurants –– and Beyond

Established business models and name recognition help many multi-unit restaurant brands take on all kinds of challenges. The past several months have proved that adaptability is the name of the game, and many of today’s rapidly accelerating industry trends were already gathering steam before the pandemic hit. What changes are here to stay, and how do restaurants and retailers shift their strategies to meet the needs of a changing world?

Contactless Payment & The Rise of QR Codes

According to recent data, contactless credit card and mobile payment options grew 150% in the U.S from March 2019 to March 2020 –– and that was before pandemic-related germ aversion had fully set in. But diners fell in love with the convenience of on-the-spot payment. Hand-held POS devices are easy for servers to carry, and the ease of paying at the table allows customers to leave more quickly at the end of a meal, which boosts turnover rates –– and revenue. 

The popularity of digital menus, readily available via scannable QR codes, was also already on the rise. It makes sense that restaurants would have been among the first to implement and perfect QR code technology, but its potential isn’t limited to menu optimization. Retailers of all kinds now use QR codes to share hiring information and job applications, promote coupons and special discounts, and offer customers a simple way to order and pay for a variety of services.

Loyalty Programs

The absence of in-person dining at physical locations means that your customer’s primary interaction with you now occurs through your branding and online presence. How do you establish yourself as the top choice in your market –– and keep customers coming back?   

Loyalty and rewards programs are now easier than ever to offer and track. Birthdays, location-specific promotions, and ordering frequency are all great avenues for points-based rewards or one-time discounts. Customers stay loyal when they feel appreciated and part of an exclusive club. Show them some love and get rewarded with years of repeat business. 

Supply Chain Shortages

From factory shutdowns to labor shortages to an unprecedented boom in e-commerce, the pandemic created a perfect storm of supply-chain pain –– one that looks likely to continue raging well into 2023. The lesson? Reliable logistics and fulfillment systems are the key to giving your brand a competitive advantage, especially if you’re expanding regionally or nationally. Is your current marketing partner up to the challenge?      
No matter how much things change, count on one thing to stay the same: UMI’s commitment to making multi-unit marketing as simple and painless as possible. Download our white paper to find out more about how our experience and expertise make scalability a snap.