With close to two-thirds (63 percent) of Americans now ordering takeout at least once a month, and most of this group ordering online, restaurants are looking for unique ways to win guests through digital channels.
The secret to success on these platforms, however, lies less in the unique new dishes restaurants promote but rather in the customer data they are able to collect. Yet, historically, access to this critical diner data has been limited, keeping operators in the dark about who is ordering from them and what they value.
To continue to see success, restaurants need to take ownership of customer data through direct online ordering technology to better manage their digital channels and deepen relationships with diners.
Guest data is now essential to restaurant operations, and direct ordering can help operators use it to illuminate trends that drive profitability, cost of customer acquisition and lifetime value.
When a guest orders directly with a restaurant, they are opting in to share all their data with that establishment. An operator can then use order management technology to automatically build a complete profile of this diner, with insight into how often they order, what neighborhood they live in, and which menu items excite them. When replicated across thousands of customers, restaurants can use this data to obtain a bird’s-eye view of their takeout and delivery operations.
Guest data is the future of restaurants
Location data, for example, could help an operator determine that most orders from the neighborhood to the west of the restaurant happen on weekends, and change delivery staff assignments to accommodate. In addition, a better look into guest ordering habits and spending helps generate more complex menu item insights. These could include the fact that repeat guests are more likely to try wraps or that first-time guests order fewer appetizers and can help operators place more accurate ingredient orders.
Compare this to third-party ordering, which leaves restaurants guessing about where orders are coming from and who is ordering when. If a ticket comes in through a third-party, an operator can’t tell if this is a new customer or a regular ordering for the 50th time unless they recognize that person by name.
In contrast, direct orders help restaurants get a better handle on their digital ordering channels through deeper guest data insights, not to mention avoiding costly third-party commission fees.
However, arguably the greatest benefit of full access to online ordering data is the ability to build deeper guest relationships through personalization.
Direct ordering inherently creates a more personalized experience for the guest, bringing them onto a restaurant’s own website while helping restaurants keep track of customers with specific characteristics.
For example, online order management technology can help operators mark their “regulars” and big spenders automatically, creating the opportunity to present them with unique deals on their favorite menu items or even including a special dessert item in their bag when they reach a predetermined spending threshold.
This guest knowledge can also help extend relationships beyond the virtual: since on- and off-premises data is visible on every guest’s profile, an operator can instantly recognize when a valuable online ordering customer comes to dine in-house. Robust customer information can help waitstaff reach another level of service, offering this on-premises guest recommendations based on their favorite delivery dish or seamlessly accommodating a listed allergy.
Finally, ownership of guest data helps restaurants maintain more consistent and effective communication with their guests by tailoring marketing emails to specific groups. This could take the form of identifying frequent vegetarian customers and sending only that group a promotion for a new seasonal vegetable tasting menu, ensuring that every email will resonate with their audience.
Guest Data Is the Future of Restaurants
Complete access to guest data through direct online ordering is the single best advantage for today’s restaurant operator. However, operators should still consider a holistic strategy both on- and off-premises to better understand their guests by collecting and leveraging data throughout the customer journey.
Deeper insights about who their guests are, what they order, or how many times they’ve visited provide operators with larger insights that streamline operations, while access to guest preferences can help craft unique offers and moments of personalization that boost loyalty.
Contrary to the consumer myth that restaurants are out to steal your data, smart establishments are using it to enhance their customers’ experiences, understanding exactly who their guests are to connect with them on a deeper level.