There is no escaping digitalisation in the hospitality industry. The way people want to order their food is at the front and centre of change for restaurants and takeaways. According to new research by Barclaycard, a third of younger diners avoid restaurants with no online presence; the study of 2,000 UK adults found that 22% of diners look up both a restaurant’s menu and social channels when choosing to visit. This is a trend that is set to evolve as customers continue to look for more convenient and faster experiences.
Adopting a mobile and/or online ordering platform is an excellent way of digitising your business and provides customers with an ordering experience that drives real value and leads to greater customer retention. Offering customers the opportunity to skip the queue by ordering and paying ahead, then handing over piping hot food as they arrive through the door, is key to winning their long-term custom. Digital ordering isn’t only beneficial to the customer, with shorter queues, the business can also serve more people, accessing fresh revenue streams, and better manage in-store productivity.
Mobile ordering has been around for a while now and many of the bigger chains have been the early adopters (Pizza Express, Weatherspoons and Pizza Hut), leading the way with their own branded apps. Digital ordering has now become significantly more accessible and affordable for businesses of all sizes including independent business owners. Using a white-label monthly subscription platform like Preoday means you can advertise your online ordering platform to customers under your logo, with your images and colour scheme. There is a demand for own branded third-party platforms over high commission aggregator sites such as Deliveroo and Just Eat. Research from E-poll found that a majority (53%) of consumers order food directly through a restaurant brand. Similarly, Preoday’s research found 70% of consumers would rather place an order through a platform not taking commission fees from a brand, so the demand for third-party apps is there.
Don’t be put off by the thought of implementing the service; it is a lot easier than you’d think. The beauty of a white-label platform like Preoday is that you don’t need to invest in a lot of kit to get started. At its most simple, a business needs an internet-connected device like a tablet, or even a phone to manage delivery orders, and a cloud software service. A good digital ordering platform should also have the ability to integrate with existing EPOS tills or order management system. Integrations with EPOS will further streamline operational efficiencies and provide a flow of real-time information across the business and have a single view, which helps make informed business decisions.
It is critical to consider any operational adjustments that are needed when launching an online and mobile ordering service and your technology provider should be here to help you every step of the way. Think ahead about how an increase in sales is going to be managed, both in the kitchen and with regards to customer interaction. Some questions that should be considered are:
•Should a separate area for mobile/online collection be created?
•Should a separate area of the kitchen be dedicated to pre-ordering as it grows?
•Depending on order volume, tracking and managing customer communication of pre-orders can itself be a material operational adjustment that needs to be thoroughly planned. Who is going to do this?
The marketing of the service is also essential, so making time to build a launch marketing campaign is crucial, so customers know that the service is available. Look for a provider that offers marketing support to help you understand best practice and that build up to the launch is as effective as possible. Having access to customer data is also vital as it allows businesses to get to know their customers, both as individuals and as a wider group. This, in turn, can feed into personalised loyalty campaigns, boosting profitability and attracting a higher number of repeat visits.
Ultimately, the potential for independent hospitality businesses to grow revenue and customer retention by using technologies like digital ordering is huge. They should not be put off by assuming that implementation is complicated and should look for providers who make life as easy for them as possible.