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The coronavirus pandemic radically altered life as Americans knew it. Face masks became de rigueur, daily routines were abandoned and a slew of favorite self-indulgences sacrificed.
Ordering a cold brew, however, doesn't have to be among the losses -- even with many bars still closed and "normal" apparently not returning anytime soon.
Technology company BeerBoard is helping businesses get spirits into the hands of consumers both safely and efficiently through a new digital system dubbed BeerPages.
The service uses QR codes and URLs to present clients' full bar menus of draft beer, wine and packaged goods to consumers, eliminating the need for anyone to touch or handle printed menus or in-store tablets, BeerBoard founder and CEO Mark Young told FOX Business.
"This will go a long way to helping keep their in-store environment safe," Young said. "Our BeerPages solution is efficient and flexible in that it puts the full bar menu in front of customers faster, through a medium they control."
Since 2005, the Syracuse-based company has used its patented digital platform to capture, analyze and report real-time data on bar performance and sales with a single dashboard app for high-profile independent groups and major chain operators across North America.
Its clients include names such as Buffalo Wild Wings, Hooters, Twin Peaks and Applebee’s as well as brewers including Lagunitas, Heineken, Diageo, Yuengling, New Belgium, Shiner, Stone and Pabst.
With the new technology, a retailer's menu will be displayed instantly when customers scan a QR code using a cellphone camera or visit a webpage, giving them access to the full bar list and complete brand information. The menus are always live, so any updates can be seen immediately.
"This eliminates the information gap and allows staff to focus their efforts in other areas of the guest experience," Young said.
By using the digital format, business owners can eliminate both the costs of printed menus and sales losses due to out-of-date listings -- relieving some of the burden created by lockdown orders that cut off on-site customers.
It may also ease the process of reopening in a world where infection has become a heightened concern, forcing companies to develop new sanitization policies and try to limit physical contact.
"The response to COVID has forced everyone in the industry, BeerBoard included, to evaluate how we operate and the experience we provide our customers," Young said. "The need is there for this industry to adapt, and do so quickly, so it can thrive again."
The technology is operating at more than 3,000 retail locations across the country already.
"The shift to a contactless customer experience -- browsing the menu, placing an order and making payment through their phone -- has been out there on the horizon, but has now been pushed to the forefront," Young said.