Online ordering is one of the fastest growing and most robust trends in the hospitality industry. Moreover, the statistics indicate that it will not be just a flash in the pan, but an inevitability for restaurants courting the millennial demographic. A recent study conducted by Deloitte shows that 40 percent of consumers prefer to order online and when they do, spending increases by up to 26 percent. If that isn’t convincing enough, consider that shortly after launching their online and mobile ordering features, Starbucks reported shorter lines, better productivity in-store, faster service and improved customer satisfaction. They posted an increase in their, already large, profit margin of 12 percent. You may be wondering how adding online ordering to your website would affect your restaurant’s business. Consider these three areas of impact.
1. Improved Customer Experience
There are three primary ways that an online order feature can influence the customer’s experience and offer improvements.
It does seem counterintuitive that you can actually make a customer feel more engaged via a website versus in person, or over the phone. However, if you are trying to appeal to young adults, online ordering is essential for one simple fact: Millennials hate talking on the phone. It is an undisputed fact. Therefore, the only way to increase engagement with this very large demographic is to have online ordering or perhaps a stand-alone mobile app. By adding an online ordering feature a restaurant opens up more lines of communication and increases customer engagement.
Another way that restaurants can improve the customer experience with online ordering is by making customization of orders simple. Don’t be afraid to upsell. Experts agree that most consumers don’t mind paying for extras that make them happier.
The ability for the website to remember a customer’s preferences and favorites is a “Wow!” factor for young consumers. Saved information and personalized follow-ups all but ensure repeat business.
A traditional telephone ordering system is fraught with pitfalls; long hold times, dropped calls, relentless ringing, revealing sensitive payment information, to name a few. These are virtually eliminated with online ordering. Gone too, are the miscommunicated orders. Online ordering allows customers the ability to check prices and availability of menu items ahead of time, so there are no surprises and fewer disappointments. Payment is secured during the order process, over a secured network, which is a plus for the business owner and the consumer.
Follow-up is an important part of any business, but face it, restaurants traditionally miss out on the opportunity. However, due to the data exchange created with online ordering, follow-up can be automated and include discount offers, freebies, and promotions.
“An online customer is more likely to re-order within 60 days than a walk-in customer, simply because the platform is more accessible.”
The ease in which loyalty programs can be implemented in an online ordering system is another win for restaurants. The gamification of these programs make them especially successful with the millennial demographic.
By adding social media to the mix a restaurant can differentiate from the competition in significant ways. Facebook, for example, offers the ability to include an online menu and order button right on your business’ page. Allowing patrons the ability to order directly from social media, encourages them to share their experience which translates to invaluable word-of-mouth advertising. It also offers you the ability to interact through the feedback loop. Deloitte, in the previously mentioned study, notes that a whopping 84 percent of customers return, if the restaurant responds to their feedback, directly.
3. Improved Bottom Line
There are several ways in which online ordering can impact a restaurant’s bottom line. These include:
The automated nature of online ordering means that the front of the house staff, usually tasked with taking phone orders, will be free to take care of customers or be more productive in other areas.
The more data you have, the more effective your marketing and promotional campaigns will be and online web ordering makes tracking buyer data a breeze. This is also important when gathering your most impactful data for various stakeholders.
The most relevant bottom line factor is sales. Statistics from Deloitte show that patrons who order online tend to spend up to 26% more than they would if they dined-in.
When determining potential ROI for adding an online ordering portal to your restaurant’s website, you must consider all of the factors discussed. Gather information from third-party vendors. Inquire about the cost for custom web application development, as well as, stand-alone mobile applications. Payment platforms, eWallet providers or integration with your existing payment processing system are all options with varying benefits. Once you are appropriately informed you can begin to build an online ordering portal that is certain to improve customer service, build loyalty and impact your bottom line.
Rafi Cohen, a graduate of Baruch College & Brooklyn native is the Co-Founder @ Orders2me, an online ordering platform that gives restaurant owners all the features they need to grow their business in the digital age.
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