Restaurants are facing new and evolving challenges resulting from today’s complex circumstances. Some of those challenges, particularly for smaller, local restaurants, include implementing online ordering, creating a digital presence, and offering delivery for the first time.
Even before current events arose, online ordering capabilities and digital touchpoints were becoming nearly ubiquitous. According to research done in July 2019 by the Pew Research Center, 26 percent of adults spend the entire day online and 43 percent are online several times during the day. Furthermore, about 60 percent of customers order food online at least once a week and 31 percent order online at least twice. Meaning, people are always online, and they’re ordering food that way too. So, if a restaurant was not capitalizing on a digital presence prior to COVID-19, they were already falling behind. Now, they are missing out on a key element for survival.
Many smaller restaurants still rely on taking delivery orders over the phone, if delivery is even an option. It’s an outdated system and the workflow increases the likelihood of human error. It’s also a system that excludes all those customers searching for easy ways to order online. Most of the time, these restaurants only offer delivery through a third-party delivery service which eats away at profits with the associated fees.
So, how can restaurants effectively implement an efficient online ordering process, saving time, resources, and ultimately, money?
Update Online Ordering Technology
Updated restaurant technology is the key to being a modern, successful establishment. Integrating online ordering systems into a restaurant’s website creates a much smoother workflow process and is better for business. Take the casual-dining chain, TGI Fridays, for example. They reported a 30 percent increase in take-out sales the year after implementing online ordering, and it's been the primary reason for their continued investment in restaurant technology to this day. Too many smaller businesses think the type of technology that can help a giant like TGI Fridays must be out of their reach, but that is no longer true. Today even a one-location, mom and pop diner can easily implement online ordering without breaking the bank.
The best thing to do is find online ordering software that is easy to set up, fast to get started with and doesn’t cost a lot of money. In addition to increasing order demand, integrating online ordering capabilities also results in more opportunities for up-selling and increased order accuracy.
Promote Online Ordering Capabilities
Perhaps the most important aspect aside from implementing online ordering is promoting those capabilities. If nobody knows about it, nobody will use it. As a result, restaurant marketing, specifically digital marketing, is of extreme importance.
When looking for online ordering technology, restaurants should focus on those that offer restaurant marketing to go hand in hand. With the right tech, it’s easy to promote loyalty programs, customized offers, and coupons through social media, email, and other marketing channels, such as text messaging.
Unlike more traditional forms of marketing, analytics track user-footprints showcasing successful strategies and relevant promotions. Software that helps track where users are coming from and which coupons they like the most can be a huge factor in future success. Target and promote aggressively on digital platforms, such as social media, and Google ads, and then track what’s working and increase your revenue further in those channels.
Lastly, when beginning to promote online ordering capabilities, personalized branding is necessary. Restaurants should strive for a cohesive, engaging, and persuasive brand and branding strategy when targeting customers, especially new customers. Online ordering and delivery open up a restaurant to more customers than ever before, so they should be prepared to make a great first impression. Look for software that offers you a customized online presence. Stand out from the crowd rather than being just another choice on a third-party site.
Making dramatic business changes can be difficult to undertake, especially during this time. But, now is the time to get set up with online ordering. This technology has never been more important, and regardless of what happens in our industry next, it is a trend that is here to stay.