What We Know About Low-Touch Foodservice

When we think about 2020 and how it impacted restaurants, one of the things we’ll remember is the fast rise of low-touch dining. When you combine the fact consumers are looking for lower risk dining options with the technological capabilities in today’s foodservice industry, it creates a combination that has driven change.

As outlined in a Technomics report on the impacts of COVID-19 in the restaurant industry, consumers are most concerned about touch points during the dining process and how sanitized those points are. According to their surveys, 73 percent of consumers said they’d be more comfortable visiting a restaurant that prioritized frequent sanitation of consumer touch points, which was more than any other safety option. Those restaurants also stand a higher chance of creating consumer confidence, with 67 percent of consumers reporting they’d feel comfortable making return visits.

While these measures have led to greater consumer confidence and increased visits, they’ve also helped create consumer habits that are likely to extend well beyond the implementation of a COVID-19 vaccine. Yes, many of the touchless or low-touch transactions reduce risk, but they also increase convenience. It’s for that reason we can expect to see them well into the future.

The Aspects of Low-Touch Dining


The first aspect of low-touch options is the emergence of digital dining. According to the Bluedot State of What Feeds Us report, smartphones are responsible for those initial phases of the low-touch dining process, leading to a 33 percent increase in curbside pickup and a 28 percent increase in drive-thru when compared to pre-pandemic numbers. In order to make this style of ordering possible, half of all surveyed customers reported downloading at least one app, and a majority says they’re adding additional apps.

For restaurants, this means digital communication is critical to success. Yes, it’s important to provide ordering options on apps and via digital channels, but those same channels are also there to drive engagement, keep consumers informed, and to drive promotions. The use of QR codes has been widely used table side and on signage to help customers access menus as an alternative to paper options. This can also drive customers to strategic website content.


Having the ability order on a mobile app or online easily translates to having that same level of accessibility when it comes to payment. There are many benefits to this.

Payments that happen online eliminate the need to use cash. As we know, money can be some of the dirtiest of substances we use on a daily basis simply based on how quickly it transfers from person to person. By taking payments online, it also removes the need to process a transaction at the point of pickup, saving labor, as well. Most important, though, online payments limits customer exposure inside restaurants, and this will increase consumer confidence.


The order has been processed and cooked. The to-go bag is packed. Payment is received. The only thing left to do is provide an easy, risk-reduced way for customers to pick up their food. Like ordering and payment, the solutions in this step of the process are also driven by technology.

With a pick-up cabinet that provides for touchless experience that’s designed for quality preservation and personal safety, the Carter-Hoffmann PUC system is the perfect foodservice pick-up solution to maximize the potential that online ordering provides in 2020 and into the future.

When you combine all three aspects of the digital dining experience, they represent an ability to provide service to today’s nervous diner, as well as the diners of the future who are just looking for ease-of-use and convenience.

At Middleby, we specialize in solutions that can help make a restaurant’s carryout business more profitable, and we’d like to invite you to enjoy a free consultation to learn more.

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Topics: Foodservice Industry Trends, Takeout & Delivery