The digital transformation is leaving no industry untouched. The restaurant industry has seen some major shifts lately. Just a few short years ago, customers paid for their meals in cash or credit cards, orders were totaled on analog cash registers, and customers called restaurants to place orders over the landline phone.
Now, orders are still being placed via phone, but calls have been swapped out for texts, mobile apps or online, cash registers have been upgraded to more robust technology systems, and contactless payment options are all the rage.
It’s hard to believe that not too long ago, no-contact, self-ordering and payment technology solutions were practically unheard of. These days, it’s difficult to imagine a restaurant operating successfully—and safely—without them.
The New Norm: Text to Order
Customers don’t want to be bogged down with a massive library of food apps on their phone. A text-to-order solution allows customers to text and pay for their orders, which can then be easily saved for simplified, repeat purchases.
This solution also integrates seamlessly with payment processing solutions for both digital platforms and credit cards. Once a customer sends in their order via text, they can be sent a link which allows them to pay for their order right then and there. These solutions work in tandem, making it easier than ever for customers to order and pay.
As an added benefit, this can free up time that restaurant staff may have previously wasted taking orders via phone, while simultaneously increasing order accuracy. All the necessary information will be right at your employees’ fingertips, speeding up the order entry process and making it easier to double-check for accuracy.
With how quickly restaurant technology is progressing, text-to-order may soon include upgraded features like voice ordering. Customers can speak orders into their phones, have it transcribed to text, and sent to the restaurant, similar to how they might make a purchase online using voice assistants like Amazon Alexa.
Maximize Throughput with Tablet POS
It’s critical to help your customers feel safe and in-control if they choose to eat on-premises. Tablet POS, when leveraged as self-ordering kiosks, helps reduce face-to-face contact between servers and customers. Customers can input their own orders at the table and then pay on the same device.
Not only does this digital ordering channel reduce labor costs for your restaurant—it also helps servers turn tables faster and minimize order errors. Customers can pay for their meals as soon as they are ready, rather than having to wait for a server to print their check, run their card, and come back with the receipt, all of which add costly and unnecessary time to the dining experience.
Brand Your Own Website for the Win
In order to truly leverage the digital ordering transformation, an innovative, branded website will be clutch. It’s crucial to access and edit your online ordering experience as necessary to keep customers informed on seasonal menu swaps, promotions, and weekly specials. Unique design capabilities allow you to make updates quickly without any down time. This results in a faster time-to-market to excite customers of changes to keep your restaurant top of mind.
An expertly-built website will be able to draw customers in and highlight all of a restaurant’s digital ordering channels and marketing opportunities in one space. If you have various options for digital ordering, this is where you’ll want to communicate that with customers. You should also share your loyalty program, email newsletter, or social media account,. This is how you build more solid relationships with your customers—by communicating with them on a variety of platforms.
It’s equally important however, that you integrate your website with the rest of your restaurant technology, like digital ordering and mobile payments, so that you can create a seamless ordering experience across channels. Juggling too many separate channels can make it harder to keep track of and analyze customer data, which is critical to driving repeat business.
Digital Payments, More Money Faster
It’s time to retire the phrase “cash is king.” Customers prefer digital payments to carrying cash or cards with them. Customers don’t just prefer digital payments because of the simplicity. This is a benefit for your restaurant because faster payment transactions accelerate cash flow. Many customers perceive services as being quicker and better when payments are conducted through digital payment platforms, leading to higher tips for servers and greater customer satisfaction with your business.
Digital payments are even more popular in 2021, thanks to the reduced risk of contamination. Customers no longer have to hand over their cash or cards to servers. Instead, payment can be submitted digitally and everyone walks away feeling safer.
Once your customer data is integrated into your multi-functional platform, you will know the popular ordering methods for your restaurant whether they are placed in a drive-thru, online, mobile phone, or taken inside your restaurant, so that you don’t miss insights about your customers. Detailed reporting will assist you with marketing to the right customers at the right time based on their preferences, turning first-time guests into loyal, repeat customers.
Digital ordering and payment channels are growing exponentially now that consumers desire safe and simplified dining. Restaurants that have implemented these solutions have already experienced major success. It’s time for the rest of the industry to get on-board with the shift. The most successful restaurants will continue to thrive in the ever-changing industry as additional opportunities emerge.