Raising the Table Stakes: Why Omnichannel Is More Important Than Ever in Hospitality

There’s that word again: omnichannel. The word omnichannel has been buzzing since 2010, but at its core it’s all about guests. A restaurant omnichannel strategy puts the customer at the center of the dining experience. Now more than ever, customers have more opportunities to engage with restaurants across multiple channels.

Why is omnichannel more important than ever? 

Technology Has Leveled the Playing Field in Hospitality 

For many years, you had restaurants that did delivery and restaurants that didn't. Some restaurants were able to implement omnichannel strategies to stand out from the crowd. Now, almost every restaurant offers delivery, almost every restaurant connects to Ubereats or DoorDash or has an online ordering platform and almost every restaurant uses a reservation system or even a loyalty platform. All of a sudden, we live in a world where cloud-based technology is much less expensive, much more available and, most importantly, interconnected. 

2020 fast-tracked the adoption of omnichannel for even the most traditional dine-in establishments. Most businesses have now adopted an omnichannel strategy in one way or another. Omnichannel is no longer a nice-to-have, but a must-have. 

"The pandemic was an interesting time. It had big effects on restaurants, and we learned a lot of lessons as an industry. One of those lessons I think most people learned was that technology is going to be part of our solutions, whether that's part of our customer experience, customer online ordering, delivery or really great analytics."  – Grant Macdonald, Chief Concept Officer at Kotsu Ramen & Gyoza.

Meeting Growing Customer Expectations 

Omnichannel is something customers have now come to expect. Businesses everywhere offer multiple of touchpoints from dine-in and third-party delivery to online and QR code ordering. The types of channels available to interact with customers keep growing and customer habits are changing on a regular basis. Staying on top of new trends and new channels can make or break a restaurant in the age of almost unlimited options. 

For example, digital ordering and delivery have grown 300 percent faster than dine-in traffic since 2014, with 31 percent of restaurant goers saying they use these third-party delivery services at least twice a week. Mobile ordering has also become a popular touchpoint, accounting for 14 percent of a restaurant’s total revenue on average. Customers are looking for dining options that are easily accessible and will meet their new habits.

Maximizing Each Interaction with Omnichannel 

Traditionally, omnichannel strategies were used to reach customers across different channels. Now, omnichannel is really about making the most of each customer interaction through data. 

One of the key benefits of an omnichannel strategy is that it allows restaurants to gather data on their customers' preferences and behaCloud-based restaurant management platforms with tools like embedded payments, advanced insights, delivery and online ordering provide restaurants with an ecosystem that gathers data from multiple touchpoints and packages it as insights that are easy to interpret and act on. 

For example, a customer who frequently orders delivery through a restaurant platform or third-party delivery can be offered promotions for free delivery or discounts on their favorite menu items. Similarly, a customer who dines in on a regular basis can be offered a loyalty program or special deals for their next visit. 

An omnichannel strategy can even help restaurants increase revenue by providing more opportunities to upsell and cross-sell. A customer who makes an online order for takeout, for example, can be offered the option to add a dessert or bottle of wine to their order. 

Personalizing Experiences Using Data 

The goal of omnichannel is not only to gather high level trends (like how many times per week a customer visits a restaurant), but to help paint a more detailed picture of the consumer. An omnichannel strategy can help businesses create a more personalized experience for their customers, gather data on preferences and behaviors and even increase revenue. 

To do this successfully, it’s essential to have the right tools. Restaurant platforms with embedded payments let you identify who those customers are while at the same time tying in data like email addresses from loyalty platforms or phone numbers from reservation systems. The idea is to pull in data from different touchpoints, aggregate it and repackage it in an easy-to-use system. 

With every visit, online order or reservation you’ll learn more about the customer and specific details like what they like to order and where they order it from. With this data, the opportunities are truly endless. Data gathered across touchpoints can help create the experiences that keep customers coming back for more. For dine-in guests, for example, your staff would have access to insights around the type of food or wine regulars usually order, giving your team the information they need to make personalized recommendations or potential upsells, even if this is the first time that a particular staff member interacts with that specific customer. 

Gearing up for the Future with Omnichannel 

It’s an interesting time to run a restaurant. As we head into challenging macroeconomic conditions in 2023, where people will eat out less frequently, it's essential to be smart about every interaction with a customer. Whether it’s online or at a venue, restaurants will need to maximize that interaction and tailor the experience for guests.

Costs are increasing and margins are getting slimmer, but at the same time, technology adoption and availability are at an all time high, and the tools are getting smarter. An omnichannel strategy accompanied with a strong restaurant management platform will be vital for restaurants that want to stay competitive and succeed in today's market.