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What is contactless ordering?

4 min read

Contactless ordering

In the modern world, many of us may have gotten used to doing things digitally, and contactless ordering is another tech innovation you may want to consider for your business. But why might you need a contactless ordering system? We’ll explore more in our guide.

What is contactless ordering?

Contactless ordering is where your customers can view, select and authorise their purchase through a touchscreen monitor or smartphone, all while reducing or eliminating contact with staff. It’s often found in the restaurant industry, where contactless menu ordering allows diners to choose and pay for their meal at the touch of a button (or two). Contactless ordering can complement other ways of taking cashless payments, such as contactless cards on a POS terminal.

Types of contactless ordering

How does contactless ordering work? Let’s look at three examples:

  • QR code ordering systems. QR (Quick Response) codes are a distinct black and white barcode that direct customers to a website or app once they’ve scanned the code with their smartphone. You can place a QR code on a table, ordering kiosk or anywhere you think your customers would locate it. A restaurant can then process the order and provide table service, or collection at the counter.
  • Self-serve kiosks. These are typically a free-standing kiosk where customers can make a contactless purchase, and in restaurants, may sometimes receive an order number to collect their food.
  • Mobile payments. As well as taking card payments at the counter, another way to avoid handling cash is to accept mobile payments on an NFC-compatible card machine.

The benefits of contactless ordering

  • Speedier service. A contactless ordering system could reduce waiting times for your customers, as they may no longer need to get the attention of staff, or queue at a counter, for example.
  • Enhanced safety. The COVID-19 pandemic has seen pubs, restaurants and other settings like beauty salons look for new ways to serve customers safely. Contactless ordering could reduce face-to-face contact in your premises and therefore make social distancing easier.
  • Cost savings. For some businesses, the introduction of contactless ordering may help reduce payroll staffing costs if you’re confident your business can manage with a smaller workforce. There may also be savings if you don’t have to print a menu.
  • Redeployed staff. By introducing a self-service kiosk, you may be able to reduce the space taken up by a counter and free-up staff to work in a more mobile way. A shift towards customer service – for example, by taking the time to answer queries online or on social media – may inspire loyalty among your customers.
  • An improved experience. Contactless payment systems can cater for different customers’ needs. For example, by ordering at the table, rather than queuing at a counter, customers may not have to leave their fellow diners unattended, which could be helpful to parents with young children, or carers with an elderly or disabled person.

Contactless payments – things to consider

While contactless ordering systems have the potential to bring certain benefits to your business, it’s worth analysing the case against. QR codes are only suitable on static locations – such as tables and walls – so if you operate from a moving vehicle, for example, you may see little upside. Secondly, it’s not inconceivable that someone could deface or manipulate the QR code so that the link doesn’t work, or redirects to another website. Additionally, while self-serve kiosks could quicken your service times, they cost money to install, and some customers may prefer a more personalised face-to-face service.

How to use contactless ordering in your restaurant

Having an integrated POS system in your restaurant, could help you take contactless payments (in addition to cash and Chip & PIN payments).

You could then create a QR code using a web or mobile app – QR Code Monkey is one example (although there are many others in the market, and you should always do your research for the best solution for your business) – and link it to your contactless menu. You could put the QR code on tables, posters, a wall, or anywhere your customers might find it.

Finally, you may wish to ensure your kitchen is equipped with a display system so that your team can see which orders have been made.

More tech guides from Tyl

Over at Tyl Talks, we’ve got plenty of guides on how technology could potentially make your life easier as a business owner. Here are just some examples you may wish to check out:


This has been prepared by Tyl by NatWest for informational purposes only and should not be treated as advice or a recommendation. There may be other considerations relevant to you and your business so you should undertake your own independent research.

Tyl by NatWest makes no representation, warranty, undertaking or assurance (express or implied) with respect to the adequacy, accuracy, completeness, or reasonableness of the information provided.

Tyl by NatWest accepts no liability for any direct, indirect, or consequential losses (in contract, tort or otherwise) arising from the use of the information contained herein. However, this shall not restrict, exclude, or limit any duty or liability to any person under any applicable laws or regulations of any jurisdiction which may not be lawfully disclaimed.

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