By Zhong Xu, CEO and Co-Founder, Deliverect (www.deliverect.com)
“Today, inflation is a reality that the restaurant and hospitality sector has no choice but to contend with as prices continue to surge in the UK. There’s no doubt the rising cost of food is proving an additional challenge for heavily stretched restaurateurs: while they need to emphasize efficiency measures such as reducing more food waste and tighter menu management, they also need to stay creative to ensure customers have the best possible experience.
Consequently, it can be challenging for restaurants to encourage customers to continue visiting their establishments given increasing hesitancy for additional expenditures such as dining out or ordering food online. Now more than ever, building and retaining customer loyalty is critical to thrive and grow – here’s how to do so whilst keeping an eye on costs.
Customer experience is King
A recent survey found that 40% people in the UK get up to three food deliveries a week today despite the recent rise in inflation. While people are getting more takeaways and deliveries, they are also being more selective. A whopping 68% of people said quality ingredients are more important now than before the rise of inflation. What’s more, convenience is a major deciding factor for consumers selecting a restaurant for takeaway and delivery. 69% claim how close a restaurant is and how fast their food can get to them is now more important than ever.
This means a focus on offering high-quality, value-driven experiences can be a valuable way of differentiating restaurants from the competition. This can include sourcing ingredients locally or from artisanal producers, offering unique menu items that can’t be found elsewhere, or providing excellent customer service. By offering experiences that stand out from the competition, restaurants can keep customers coming back for their own brand of “special sauce”, building a loyal customer base in the process.
In addition to offering promotions and high-quality experiences, restaurants can also encourage customers by investing in their online presence. This includes having a professional-looking website, an active social media presence, and positive online reviews. With more and more people turning to the internet to find information about local businesses, a strong online presence can be a powerful tool for attracting new customers and driving repeat business.
Improve your tech offering
According to the same research, more than a third of customers didn’t order from a restaurant again after they had a bad delivery experience. To boot, 19% of those same people told their friends or family not to buy from the restaurant either. Avoiding these experiences and customer attrition as a result requires streamlining restaurant operations to ensure orders are fed smoothly from online platforms such as Deliveroo and Just Eat straight into the kitchen, and then back out again.
One way that UK restaurants in the UK can do so is by using a cloud-based platform that integrates with their point-of-sale (POS) system and popular delivery platforms. With this type of technological integration, restaurants can manage their online ordering, delivery, and takeout operations from one central location, saving time and reducing errors.
One valuable tactic to boost customer retention lies in regular, real-time menu updates. This helps to endear restaurants to customers by allowing them to make informed decisions about what to order online and avoids disappointment if an item becomes unavailable due to supply issues or rising costs. Syncing menus on apps and websites using menu optimisation makes it easier to make changes. Some food delivery management platforms also offer the ability to temporarily limit the availability of certain items, which helps manage customer expectations if the item they want is not currently available.
Flexibility and special offers
Another way to encourage customer loyalty is to offer flexible ordering and payment options. With the rise of food delivery services, many customers now expect to be able to order and pay for their meals online or through an app. Since the pandemic, many restaurants have also branched out into owning their own delivery channels which helps them to own more of their customer experience, which can help differentiate their offerings versus the competition. Ultimately, offering purchases through multiple channels can help restaurants diversify their revenue streams to drive new sales, whilst customers will appreciate the optionality and convenience.
Promotions and discounts are also a time-honored way of driving customer traffic too. This can include things like loyalty programs, where customers earn rewards for their repeat business, or limited-time offers on popular menu items. These promotions can be especially effective when paired with targeted marketing efforts, such as email campaigns or social media ads, to reach specific customer segments.
There are many ways that restaurants can encourage customers in the current inflationary period in the UK. By offering promotions and discounts, providing high-quality, value-driven experiences, offering flexible ordering and payment options, investing in their online presence, and building a sense of community, restaurants can attract and retain customers even in times of economic uncertainty. By using a cloud-based platform to streamline their online ordering and delivery operations, restaurants can also save time and reduce errors, helping them to better serve their customers and grow their business.”