The next one year will be a testing time for the restaurant industry: Ashish Tulsian, Co-founder and CEO of POSist Technologies

POSist Technologies, a B2B SaaS-based start-up, catering to the restaurant industry witnessed an increase in food delivery by 3 times during COVID time. In a contactless post-COVID world, Ashish Tulsian, Co-founder and CEO of POSist Technologies is introducing various digital methods of food ordering and payment such as Digital Ordering Using QR Code, Wi-Fi Based Ordering, Digital Postpaid Dining, etc. Asmita Mukherjee spoke with Tulsian to know more about their offerings for diners and restaurateurs in the post-COVID world.

Due to the growing awareness of social distancing, it is estimated that the number of diners will be less in restaurants, bars, pubs, and other venues. According to you, what will be the loss percentage of restaurants due to social distancing?

In the last 2 months of lockdown, we saw a steep decline of 95% in daily billings across our universe of our customers. On the positive side, we saw deliveries increasing by 3X as compared to the pre-COVID time. The order value of deliveries also increased by 1.5X-2X from Pre-COVID levels since the order size was higher, as most of the family members were at home.

The good thing is that our customers are already pivoting their operations to the takeaway-and-delivery model. Many of our customers are fine-dine restaurants in prime locations across the country, and we are working with most of them to bring them to the online delivery model with our product stack, for online ordering and cloud kitchens.

To support this trend of growth, we have launched some new features to help our customers manage online orders and food delivery. We will continue to offer scalable, reliable, and easy to use point-of-sale technology, enabling businesses to automate operations, integrate with aggregators, deploy best practices to maintain hygiene and less contact ambience in the restaurant setting. With the new stack, we aim to benefit our universe of 8,000+ restaurants in 20 countries and 100 cities worldwide.

How do you plan to support the food and beverage industry during this crisis?

To support our clients, we have announced a COVID-19 waiver to offer them all possible support that we can, from our side. At POSist, we truly believe in keeping our restaurant community at the core of everything we do. We understand that, the next three months will be very crucial for restaurant owners and would require them to operate with minimum CAPEX. As a technology partner, we strive to support our community to the best of our capacity. To do our bit, we are waiving the product subscription fee for 75 days with effect from March 15, 2020, to May 31, 2020. This waiver will be in the form of a direct discount. Additionally, we will be offering an extension of the software license for the same duration of days to the customers who have already purchased our product by paying upfront for the full year. In these difficult times, the last thing that restaurants want is to take any hit to their revenues in the name of digital ordering or payment assistance. As a technology enabler, POSist will be available to restaurants without any additional burden on transaction charges. POSist will offer an open platform for restaurateurs to choose the payment processor, and the fee that they negotiate with them.

In view of the current affinity for contactless payments, what technological solutions are you planning to offer?

When we started working on the tech stack, we took into account the feedback received from our customers across regions. From the collective feedback, it was evident that the restaurant industry cannot be contactless; however, by using technology interventions at the right touchpoint, we can at least put ‘less contact’ in practice. That became the core essence of what we are releasing today as our technology suite for the new normal.

The philosophy of our product is to keep the dining experience intact and keep customers in their comfort zone. For example, our solution allows the customer to be identified by their mobile number and on which table they are seated. When the customer accesses the menu from his phone and places the order, it automatically gets assigned for the same table. The steward is kept in the loop for verifying and accepting the order, and all of this can happen even without internet access, either on the customer’s phone or at the restaurant site.

We have recently introduced digital ordering using QR code. Using POSist’s dashboard, restaurants will have an option to generate a QR code assigned to a particular table number. This QR code will be on display, on the respective table, where the guest will be seated. Once the guest is ready to order, all they have to do is scan the QR code, enter their mobile number and the menu will appear on their mobile browser through which they can select the items and place the order in a seamless way.

Our Wi-Fi based ordering feature allows consumers to place an order from their phones by simply connecting to the restaurant’s Wi-Fi at the property. Such Wi-Fi ordering makes the process much faster and secure, as it is hosted on the restaurant’s network without any dependency on the customer’s mobile network. This feature can also work in offline mode in case of slower internet speed at the restaurant.

In a dine-in environment, customers often repeat orders or make new ones for different courses. With our industry-first digital postpaid dining feature, guests can easily do that without the hassle of paying upfront every time a new order is placed. Once the repeat order is placed, the waiter will approach the table maintaining the prescribed social distance to confirm the order. On confirmation, the waiter shoots the order to KDS (Kitchen Display System) where the chef will receive a notification to start the preparation process. The guest can continue to reorder without any interruption, just like they have been doing in the pre-COVID world.

Bill settlement can be done without physically touching any bill book or receipt through our digital bill & payments feature. Once the guest is through with the meal, they can request the bill directly from their mobile. The waiter assigned to the table will receive the notification and raise the bill. The same will appear on the customer’s phone along with the payment gateway for online payment or cash option. On making the payment, the receipt is automatically generated on the phone and a digital copy will be sent to the customer via WhatsApp and SMS.

Are you currently ideating upon any new business models, owing to the present scenario of COVID-19?

We plan to continue investing in our product and keep innovating, as we believe that the next one year will be a testing time for the restaurant industry. The industry will require constant support and improved technology, to be able to function in the most effective way. Therefore, our topmost priority will be to support our customers with the most viable product, to keep them afloat in the coming months.

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