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How To Increase Restaurant Sales With Online Ordering?

Competition in the restaurant industry can be cut-throat and with the rapidly changing trends, it can be difficult to acquire new customers or retain existing. As more customers seek out the ease of take-out–and especially delivery, third-party for delivery services provide an easy way to increase restaurant sales with online ordering.

Although these delivery services offer an opportunity to reach new customers  and increase sales, the benefits  come at a cost: giving up access to valuable customer data and loosing loyal customer base to the delivery partners. 

It, therefore, becomes pertinent for restaurants to explore strategies to engage with their customers to keep the regulars coming back, attract new customers, and, build their native platforms to increase online orders on their website. In this article we will discuss some strategies to increase restaurant sales with online ordering.

How to increase restaurant sales with online ordering?

  1. Opt for A Robust online Ordering Solution
  2. Streamline your online ordering menu
  3. Optimize your online ordering platform
  4. Make it easy to order from your website
  5. Leverage Digital channels to Promote Online Ordering
  6. Optimize Your Website For Local Search
  7. Promote your Online Ordering Platform
increase restaurant sales with online ordering

1. Opt For A Robust Online Ordering Solution

Many restaurant owners/managers opt for third party delivery services to provide the convenience of online ordering to their customers. the general belief is that it is easier to get started on such platforms and they can easily start getting more orders without any investment in terms of time and resources. However, what they fail to factor in is that the additional revenues generated by orders received via these platforms is usually diluted by the hefty commissions charged by them. At this point, it is advisable to consider the long-term benefits of building your own online ordering platform. Initially, you may have to put in some efforts to promote your online ordering platform but these are resources invested in building your brand that have the potential to deliver huge dividends in the future.

There are several robust online ordering solutions in the market, which are commission-free and are available to restaurants totally free of cost. There are a few things you should keep in mind while selecting an online ordering solution:

What are the key features of an online ordering solution?

  • Simple configuration: Most modern solutions are easy to setup and configure and allow to start taking online orders within 24 hours.
  • POS integrations: An integrated online ordering solution does away with the need for manually updating orders. Your online orders appear on your POS along with other orders and all menu updates on the POS are automatically reflected on your online ordering platform.
  • Customer data: if your online ordering solution is integrtaed with your pos, the customer data from online orders appears with all other data on your POS.
  • Customizable: You should be able to customize the platform, upload pictures and add descriptions to align with your brand identity.
  • Customers should be able save their preferences and customize their orders easily
  • Accept Multiple Payment Options
  • Inegrated feedback and loyalty program help you to build a loyal customer base

2. Streamline your online ordering menu

increase restaurant sales with online ordering
Chipotle Online Ordering

A lot of thought should go into creating your online ordering menu. Some items that may be very popular in-store might not lot lend them selves to pick-up or delivery. Evaluate each menu item on the following three criteria to come up with the idea menu.

  • Whether they do or do not travel well
  • Whether the margin on the food item is enough to cover packaging/delivery costs.
  • Packaging considerations

Your online order menu should include only those items that travel well and at the same time have a high popularity and profitability score.

3. Optimize Your Online Ordering Platform

The online ordering platform is an extension of your brand and you should take utmost care to build the same customer experience on your online ordering page that customers have come to expect from your brand.

  • Customize every aspect of the solution to align with your brand identity.
  • Upload good quality food images and detailed descriptions of food items.
  • Arrange menu items like they would appear on your in-store menu.
  • Create up-sell or cross-sell opportunities by creating pop-ups for popular items or items that are usually ordered together.
  • Streamline and smoothen the customer journey on your online ordering platform by setting up automations such as helpful tips and suggestions or allowing customers to save orders or delivery address etc.

4. Make It Easy To Order Right From Your Website

In most case, customers land on your online ordering platform from your website. The order online button should appear prominently on the top of your home page and menu page to grab the customers attention. Highlight your specials and consider adding add to cart buttons to menu items.

5. Leverage Digital Channels to Promote Online Ordering

You should build a strong online identity by adding the order online button to all your social media handles including Facebook, Instagram and GMB page. Platforms like Yelp and Tripadvisor also allow you to build your restaurant page and add an order online button to lead customers to your order online platform

6. Optimize Your Restaurant Website for Local Search

Each day thousands of customers are searching on Google for restaurant like yours using keywords or terms related to your business/menu. You should optimize your website for these key search terms. Research keywords for your restaurant and include them in your page’s body, header, title tags, and Meta description and your sit’s SEO.

Build your website’s credibility and trust with the search engines by adding your restaurant to relevant local listings including Google maps, Apple maps, Yellow book, Map quest and Nextdoor.

increase restaurant sales with online ordering

7. Promote Your Online Ordering Platform

You would want your customers to know that you are accepting online orders. Promoting your online ordering platform through organic and paid channels can help your reach more.

In-Store Promotions
  1. Promote your online ordering link via window displays and posters in prominent places such as the check out counter.
  2. Grab the attention of your customers when they are waiting for their food to arrive with table tents.
  3. Menu inserts are also a great way to reach your customers.
  4. Ensure that your online ordering link is prominently printed on your takeout packages and receipts.
  5. Train your staff to promote your online ordering platform to your customers.
Online Promotions

Social Media platforms can be a great tool to reach your customers. Besides regular posts promoting your online ordering link, you should also consider advertising to reach your target audience on these networks.

  • You could create a special offer or discount to promote online ordering among your customers.
  • Run contests to promote online Orders.
  • Run Ads to promote online ordering

8. Leverage Data To Promote Build Loyalty

Use data from your online ordering solution to create targeted promotions to bring back customers. Segment customers based on their purchase history, preferences and visit frequency and come up with customized offers to bring back customers. For instance;

  1. Offers to bring back dormant customers
  2. offer on kids meal to bring back customers with kids
  3. Deals to increase average order value of regulars
  4. Flash offers to increase online orders on slow days
  5. Offer available only on online orders to incentivize customers to place pickup orders during rush hours.

Streamlining the customer experience on your online ordering platform and targeted promotions can help you build your brand and increase restaurant sales with online ordering.

Increase Your Restaurant Revenues with FoodKonnekt Online Ordering

Restaurant Technology Trends in 2022

Talking about the restaurant technology trends in 2022, Greg Golkin, managing partner at the Kitchen Fund, a company that invests in restaurant brands like Sweetgreen and Cava said, “Food is the biggest industry on the entire planet,” After all, food is something all humans need to survive.

Restaurateurs, especially owners of SMB’s initially never dared to invest in technology because they never saw a need to. They just saw no need to disrupt the natural flow of things.

However, times change, and the industry did along with it. During the pandemic, many restaurants shut down for extended periods of time, leading to a shift in their systems. Due to consumers’ desire to eat out not slowing down, the utilization of technology in the industry was focalized. Read on to get a scope of how this ever-changing field of restaurant technology will look like in the upcoming year, and what we predict will be the most prominent restaurant technology trends in 2022.

QR Codes-

QR Codes

QR codes have become extremely vital in many restaurant operations and are on the top of our list of restaurant technology trends in 2022. They’re popular not just because they provide a touch-free experience, but also because they’re simple to use and offer a variety of advantages. There is no need to install a specific app because today’s smartphones feature built-in QR Code readers with the camera.

Customers are able to follow extremely simple actions as a result of this. Restaurants can send diners to digital menus using QR codes, reducing the spread of germs between parties. Additionally, firms such as Coca-Cola are investing in touchless beverage dispensers, which reduce staff exposure. Your staff and customers should expect a safer eating experience as contactless technology becomes more widespread, with QR codes, in particular, having the potential to go a long way as far as future restaurant technology is concerned. 

Online Ordering-

Online ordering

Not only as a result of the pandemic, which drove many restaurants to close their dine-in options, but also because of the convenience, online ordering sales have witnessed a considerable increase in recent months. A good website and restaurant app provide a solid foundation for online ordering, and allowing customers to pay for their online purchases through the website would make the process even easier.

Customers appreciate the ease with which they may order and pay for food from their computer or mobile device and have their favorite delicacies delivered right to their door. Expect online ordering systems to continue to be developed, and take a huge leap this upcoming year.

Cloud Kitchens-

Cloud kitchens

Meal delivery orders climbed by more than 150 percent from 2019 to 2020, according to recent data, and UBS expects the food delivery business to grow more than 10 times in ten years, from $35 billion to $365 billion. As the need for food delivery grows, more restaurant owners and food entrepreneurs are looking to cloud kitchens as a viable business solution.

Cloud kitchens are centralized licensed commercial food production facilities where restaurants rent space to prepare delivery-optimized menu items. One restaurant may operate many brands or virtual restaurants under one roof, or the kitchen may function as an incubator, with different vendors sharing the space. Imagine a vast warehouse with multiple stations (mini-restaurants) of stainless steel prep tables, hood vents, burners, ovens, and sinks, each with its own set of orders flowing in from customers.

By 2023, the market for cloud kitchens is predicted to be worth $1.05 billion, and people have begun to favor online platforms as a result of the digital transformation of all services. We expect them to grow as one of the most prominent restaurant technology trends in 2022.

Delivery Robots and Drones-

Delivery drones

Customers and restaurant businesses are finding their groove with AI, from burger-flipping and salad-making robots to machines that power order-taking.

McDonald’s bought AI business Dynamic Yield in 2019 with the intention of utilizing the company’s automated personalization product to improve the customer experience at drive-thrus. Menu options are displayed based on the time of day, weather, current restaurant traffic, and what’s popular on the site. It also proposes menu add-ons based on the choices made by each consumer.

When the COVID-19 pandemic required people to stay at home, demand for third-party delivery services skyrocketed. While firms like UberEats and DoorDash have risen to the occasion, restaurants have an opportunity to improve delivery even further.

Automated Inventory Software Management-

Automated inventory software management

The marketplace is becoming increasingly competitive, and those that recognize current demands and adapt accordingly are the ones who prosper in the long run. The world is growing to be extremely technologically dependent due to lifestyles becoming extremely fast-paced, with customers wanting increased efficiency, quick service, and high-quality items. An automated inventory system is a modern answer to the manual inventory methods numerous problems.

These inventory systems are more efficient and simple to handle since they are automated, allowing management to manage these activities with ease. Restaurant inventory management software aids in the administration of ingredient stock levels, purchase orders, recipes, and menu expenses in restaurants. The best restaurant inventory management software systems integrate with or are built into point-of-sale (POS) systems, reducing administrative time. These services range in price from $99 to $129 per month.

Some tools, however, are free despite having restricted functions. These systems will continue to be extremely beneficial to restaurants since they will allow them to save money on unused food and minimize the under-stocking of ingredients and other merchandise throughout the day. In addition, according to Dirk Izzo, president and GM of NCR Hospitality, these systems allow for the analysis of data for more precise forecasting and an improvement in restaurant operations.

Wrap up-

Restaurant Technology Trends in 2022

Here, we discussed the most noteworthy restaurant technology trends in 2022. The clear winners in any industry are those who are readily adapting to the shifting times. The technological impact on the restaurant industry will continue, so ensure that this year, you are ready to use this technology to your benefit, and succeed.

Labor Shortage In The Restaurant Industry

The struggle of labor shortage in the restaurant industry is real right now. Restaurant owners have been posting job requirements after job requirements, hiring signboards after hiring signboards, with no success. The restaurant industry is suffering from a severe staff crunch.

But what is going on with the labor shortage in the restaurant industry? Why aren’t people applying for jobs in this industry? Is it due to the covid 19 pandemic? Is it due to the supplemental unemployment benefits? We really need to think about this situation before making up our minds about it. We really need to get real and talk about the practical side of things here. 

Some Facts And Figures-

Some facts and figures

Let us take a look at some data that can help us understand what exactly is going on with the labor shortage in the restaurant industry.

  1. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, job openings rose to a record 9.3 million in April, 2021, an unprecedented number that has remained stagnant in the following months. 
  1. By May 2020, the industry was down 5.9 million jobs , and the number of restaurant jobs scheduled was down 75%.
  1. 17% of restaurants closed for good, and laid-off employees had to find new ways to make ends meet.
  1. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the U.S. unemployment rate sits at 6% or 9.7 million people

Now the real question is, when the U.S. unemployment rate sits at 6% or 9.7 million people, then why is the restaurant industry still struggling to fill the available positions?

Reasons For Labor Shortage In The Restaurant Industry –

Reasons for labor shortage in the restaurant industry

There are many reasons for labor shortage in the restaurant industry besides the Covid-19 pandemic hitting the world which may have been a cause of the earlier staff not showing back to work as per some restaurant owners and other executives.

Recruiting new employees is difficult due to the restaurant industry’s poor reputation for workplace quality. It’s known for high-stress shifts in hot kitchens, few employee benefits, and frequently low pay. Restaurants are finding it difficult to provide competitive wages and unemployment benefits. According to the New York Times, the median cook or food preparation worker earned $13.02 per hour in May 2020, and dishwashers earned $12.15.

Hence people would naturally find it better to work in other industries with multiple employee benefits as well as better pay, or maybe use the unemployment benefits and never return to the hot kitchens!

Pandemic hit us all very hard. And with everyone sitting at home, people had a lot of time to self-analyze and think about what they are making out of their lives. 

They now feel empowered to be more selective when choosing jobs. According to a recent Joblist survey, 58 percent of job seekers are not interested in hospitality jobs and prefer a different work setting, such as an office environment.

During the peak of the pandemic, many of the workers must have been subjected to the deadly coronavirus. Because of the uncertainty surrounding safety conditions and the insecurity of working in a restaurant, many people have left the industry permanently in search of other opportunities.

With the pandemic around the world, the daycares and creches closing down, they had no way to go but essentially quit their jobs to take care of the family commitments. Everyone has to think twice before getting back to work.  In the United States, 72 percent of families report paying more for childcare now than they did before the pandemic, and many parents are reducing their work hours or leaving the workforce entirely to care for their children. 

Realistically, it is a mix of these factors and many more that have driven the U.S. labor shortage in the restaurant industry.

We really need to come up with certain new and innovative ideas to combat this labor shortage issue, otherwise, the restaurant industry is going to be in deep trouble.

Leverage Tech To Combat Labor Shortage In The Restaurant Industry –

leverage tech to combat labor shortage

With the Covid 19 restrictions slowly lifting up, and people getting ready to eat out, restaurant owners are facing the biggest nightmares of their lives. With trying to reduce their opening hours to reduce the items on the menu, they have tried everything and failed. “Now is the time to incorporate tech into the restaurant industry and focus on how to combat the labor shortage”, this is what everyone says, but the biggest question is- HOW?

Let’s find out.

HANDHELD POS!

Handheld POS

Gone are the days when your staff used to move around the restaurant, back and forth to the customer’s tables to get the bills ready, then getting the payments done. With the provision of handheld systems, your staff can easily get the payments done then and there. No hassle of moving all the way around. With less staff by your side, you should absolutely do this so that the staff can save that amount of time to wait on thirty other hungry tables!

Promote Online Ordering

Promote online ordering

Not only because of the pandemic, which forced restaurants to close their dine-in options, but owing to the fact that it is far more convenient, online ordering has seen a significant surge in recent months. People nowadays prefer to have their favorite foods brought to them, at their doorstep. 

One way to see this is that you will need less front of the house staff to wait on the tables. You give your guests the ability to order on their own personal devices, freeing up time for your present staff to focus on bringing food to tables with that extra revenue coming in. Check out our branded online ordering solution- Foodkonnekt!

 Online Targeted Recruitment and Hiring 

Recruitment

When putting the HIRING banners used to drive applications after applications in, are the talks of old days. Websites and software are becoming increasingly important in the recruitment, hiring, and onboarding processes. Indeed and LinkedIn, for example, are frequently optimized to present job opportunities to potential applicants who are the best fit for the job. You can also use Facebook to post jobs and then run ads to target the most suited audience. Check out some of the best practices to find and hire great staff for your restaurant. Then see the applications flying in, thank us later!

Focus On BOH Too

Back of the house

To be very frank, you could have world-class equipment, state of the art decor, but if your food doesn’t taste good, you’re nil. Hence, in these difficult times, we have to focus on the back-of-house operations also. To speed up the process of delivering high-quality food in a timely manner, kitchen display systems replace paper tickets and kitchen printers. It has the tech to give the chefs what ingredients to use, specific instructions, and even what to prioritize first. This is a very good option to actually get work done faster and in an efficient manner, considering the fact that we have a labor shortage at our hands.

Leverage Data Analytics

Leverage data analytics

Use analytics to inform scheduling decisions – using historical and predictive data can help you better plan, staff up for busy hours, and operate on a leaner scale during slower hours. Using data from your restaurant can help you optimize your scheduling methods and save money on labor.

WRAP UP-

All of us at this stage have to really understand the fact that there is a severe staff crunch right now, whatever the reasons may be. Instead of thinking about what has happened or what is happening, we should also focus on what can be done. Tech is something that can be our best friend right now. So let’s come together and fight ourselves out of this struggle.

How Restaurants Can Manage Disruptions Better: Preparing Your Restaurant for 2021

How Can Restaurants Manage Disruptions Better: Preparing Your Restaurant for 2021

With repeated lockdowns and restrictions on dine-in, the food and services industry is facing one of the biggest challenges in recent years. Amidst these troubled times, restaurants are struggling to create contactless dine-in experiences and scrambling to online delivery models all in a bid to win customers’ trust and stay afloat. The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed us to the need for crisis management and adopting a disruptive mindset regardless of the size or concept of the restaurant. In this article, we will talk about the steps you need to take to handle disruptions better and for preparing your restaurant for 2021.

How Restaurants Can Manage Disruptions Better?

How can restaurants respond to a crisis?

You should be the first one to announce anything negative that is affecting your restaurant. Even if someone else brings a crisis to light ensure that you respond to it. Your response should present the right facts  and appear to be in control of the situation. Have several people proofread your comments before you publish it.
With adequate planning and preparation, your crisis management team should be ready to handle the situation.

How restaurants can manage a crisis?

1. Be Proactive: Remain aware of the current events and trends in the restaurant industry
2. Establish systems and practices to detect early warning signals of any potential crisis.
3. Have a well- documented crisis response plan and allocate specific tasks to individuals in your management team covering different aspects 
4. Ensure that your crisis management team is well aware of its role in a potentially delicate situation and has been trained adequately to handle it.
5. Build a robust supply chain
6. Embrace disruption and evolve Change is the one constant in the restaurant industry. You have to evolve and innovate continuously to stay relevant in the face of the ever-changing customer tastes and preferences.

How to Prepare Your Restaurant for Digital Disruption?

The goal of every technology upgrade should be to simplify an existing system and make it more efficient. Adopting a customer-first mindset and analyzing the frustrations that customers may face can help you identify and leverage technologies to eliminate the pain points and create a more satisfying customer experience.
a. A Cloud based POS integrated with your online ordering and 
b. Invest in long term changes to create contactless dining experiences such as table reservation systems and contactless payment options.
c. A Kitchen Display System (KDS) system integrated with your POS can also help reduce the interactions between front-of-house staff and the kitchen staff. 
d. Partner with third Party Delivery services

1. Remain Aware Of Current Events

As a restaurant owner, you must be proactive and aware of the market trends and potential threats to your restaurant.  This will not only enable you to anticipate an upcoming crisis but also prepare your team to deal with it. 

Whether you are relying on gut instincts or a combination of guesswork and past week/months sales data, you should have the ability to monitor demand trends and forecast sales. You can also use demand forecasting tools to get more accurate estimates. This enables you to have realistic expectations for profits and expenses, and streamline your inventory accordingly.

2. Crisis Planning and Preparation

A crisis management plan outlines how you would respond to any situation that can have an adverse impact on your restaurant’s profitability, reputation, or ability to operate.  Having a crisis management strategy allows you to take quick and strategic actions to minimize damage and salvage your restaurant amidst a crisis. 

Your restaurant crisis management strategy should focus on

  • Controlling and managing the adverse effects of a crisis on your restaurant.
  • Adopting measures to normalize operations while containing costs.
  • Maintaining brand image and customer relations.

Establish systems and practices to detect early warning signals of any potential crisis. Have a well- documented crisis response plan and allocate specific tasks to individuals in your management team covering different aspects such as financial forecasting,  supply chain management, community outreach, and customer relations. Ensure that your crisis management team is well aware of its role in a potentially delicate situation and has been trained adequately to handle it. During any crisis, employees look to management for leadership and guidance. Your managerial team should be ready to take up the responsibility and communicate the expected roles and actions to each employee.

3. Embrace Disruption and Evolve

Whether it is a legacy brand like Dominoes or chipotle’s or a startup like SweetGreen success in the restaurant industry is mainly dependent on your ability to adapt to changing technology and keep up with the trends.

As a restaurant owner, you must develop a mindset for constantly evolving and embracing change. Let’s take the example of Tender Greens that revolutionized the way the supply chain worked.

Before opening its first store, Tender Greens entered into an agreement with Scarborough Farms. Instead of just buying produce from Scarborough Farms, Tender Greens brought them in as an equity partner. The arrangement proved to be a lucrative bet for both parties and paved the way for future innovations.

Over the last decade, we witnessed the fast-casual boom redefining restaurants as we knew them and forcing operators to focus on speed and convenience. As digital technology reshaped the market and consumers got accustomed to shopping online, food aggregators and third-party delivery services stepped up to provide customers with the convenience that they had come to expect from online orders. Self-service kiosks and mobile ordering took food on the go to a whole new level. 

Change is the one constant in the restaurant industry. You have to evolve and innovate continuously to stay relevant in the face of the ever-changing customer tastes and preferences. All innovations in the restaurant industry ultimately boil down to one question- what do the customers want? Convenience, speed, ease of use. 

Convenience

While embracing technology we must consider the problem that we are looking to solve. Let’s take the example of customers struggling to keep up with their busy schedules who hate waiting for their meal to arrive. What can you do to reduce wait times in your restaurant? A table ordering system is a great solution that allows customers to immediately view the menu via their tablet, place an order when they are ready, and pay after their meal. 

You can also go for something as simple as this Texas restaurant that provides a bell at each table to call for a server’s attention. Similarly, to cut down wait times on takeout and delivery orders, you could consider allowing customers to order and pay from their mobile devices. 

Analyze each aspect of the customer journey inside your restaurant and work out ways in which you can optimize it.

Speed Vs Experience

Many restaurants focus on speed while compromising on experience. What we must understand is that there can be no trade-off between these two. As restaurant owners, we must learn to balance speed and experience and ensure that you deliver a stellar dining experience to all your customers including takeout and delivery.

Speed Vs Experience- How Can Restaurants Manage Disruptions Better: Preparing Your Restaurant for 2021

Ease of Use

Another thing you must consider before adopting any new technology is the ease of use. For instance, while more and more customers like to order food on the go, the last thing they want is another app on their mobiles. Adopting platforms that allow mobile orders, text orders and voice ordering from digital assistants can help you resolve this.

Embrace Technology

Technology can enable you to deliver stellar customer experiences. Adopting a customer-first mindset and analyzing the frustrations that customers may face can help you identify and leverage technologies to eliminate the pain points and create a more satisfying customer experience.  

To provide a great customer experience you need to streamline operations both at the front end and back-end. The front-end of your restaurant does not work in isolation. If your back-end is slow or disorganized,  it not only impacts your operating costs but also affects the ability of the front-of-the-house staff to deliver orders efficiently and in time. Technology can help you manage and automate almost every aspect of restaurant operations. However, the goal of every technology upgrade should be to simplify an existing system and make it more efficient. 

Efficient Use Of Data

Efficient Use Of Data-How Can Restaurants Manage Disruptions Better: Preparing Your Restaurant for 2021

Another issue that restaurants face is the collection and use of data. The accelerated rate of growth of technology and automation of processes in the restaurant industry has set in the process of data collection from various sources. Restaurants, now, have access to an overwhelming amount of data, but they are still struggling to use this data to add value to their business. A CRM tool can help you collect and organize data from your POS system, reservations management system, marketing campaigns, and other sources. By analyzing this data, you can understand the behaviors and meal preferences of the different segments of your customers, and create customized marketing strategies.

4. Establish A Robust Supply Chain

A robust and consistent supply chain minimizes disruption and is crucial to your restaurant’s success. You must invest time and resources to strengthen your restaurant’s supply chain.

  • Build strong relationships with your vendors and suppliers.
  • Diversify your supply chain by building relationships with several suppliers to ensure that you can maintain continuity in your supply chain and are able to bargain the best prices. 
  • Use tools to collect, integrate, and analyze data to ensure that you have reliable sales and inventory forecasts. This can help prevent overstocking and wastages.
  • Always have a backup plan in place so that you can meet your inventory requirements in case of a supply chain crisis.  

Preparing Your Restaurant For 2021

Restaurants in 2021 How Can Restaurants Manage Disruptions Better: Preparing Your Restaurant for 2021

1. Implement Native Online Ordering

Circumstances over the past year have forced more and more customers to order food online for takeout or delivery. Due to the pandemic, a large section of your customers are using digital channels to order food for the first time and are struggling to adapt to this new way of ordering food. Your goal, therefore, should be to provide a seamless online ordering experience;  menu suggestions based on order history, ability to save orders, and fast checkouts can help you retain customers.

If you haven’t gotten on board with online ordering just yet, now is the time to implement a system. With a native online ordering solution, you can have complete control over the customer experience and make huge savings on third party commissions.

2. Invest in Long-term Changes 

a. Delivery Services

For some time to come, customers will prefer to order from restaurants that offer delivery. You should ensure that you provide a seamless delivery experience to your customers from start to finish.  Create a delivery-specific menu that only offers items that can travel. Pack delivery orders in good quality containers and hire trained delivery riders. By using a delivery app powered by real-time navigation, you can update customers in real-time with the order status and expected delivery time

 If you don’t offer delivery already, now is the time to consider adding it.  If proving an in-house delivery service looks like too much work and is beyond your means you can always tie-up with third-party services like GrubHub and Uber Eats.

b. Offer Curbside Pickup

Contactless Delivery and curb-side pick up are here to stay

  • Advertise to your customers that they can still get contactless delivery and how to go about it.
  • Publicize that you provide curbside pickup and customers can pick up their to-go orders safely.
  • If possible,  start offering drive-thru.

c. Rethink Your Restaurant’s Layout

You may want to rethink the seating plan in accordance with the capacity requirements in your area. Make adequate distancing arrangements for customers in the waiting area. Consider waiting area for delivery and pickup orders and the possibility of providing a dive-thru.

d. Say Yes To Outdoor Dining 

Outdoor Dining How Can Restaurants Manage Disruptions Better: Preparing Your Restaurant for 2021

Restaurant patios are becoming increasingly popular in both the US and Canada with the restrictions on indoor dining. This offers a great opportunity to increase available seating for dine-in customers. Several U.S. cities have relaxed and streamlined processes for obtaining outdoor dining permits. In cities like San Francisco, restaurants have moved to close streets to facilitate outdoor seating. If you have an outdoor patio, now is the time to capitalize on it. Even if you cannot afford fancy decor, invest in durable weatherproof furniture and outdoor heating to welcome dine-in customers.

e. Table Reservation Systems

Table Reservation systems
Image Source

With limited indoor seating and guests still stressing over gathering in public places, taking reservations well in advance can help you avoid large crowds in the waiting area and also help you adhere to the social distancing requirements.

Besides taking reservations over the phone, you could also get onboard an online platform to take reservations, reduce wait times, and monitor capacity.

f. Contactless Dining Experiences

Contactless Dining Technologies
Image Source

Invest in technologies that can help you minimize person-to-person contact. Identify the nature and type of interactions between employees and customers to figure out solutions and pin down technologies that can help you minimize contact. Self-service kiosks, table-side ordering devices, and mobile order-ahead solutions enable guests to place an order and pay with no human contact and also reduce wait times for take-out orders.

3. Innovate and Diversify

Several Restaurants are adapting to the change by rethinking their menu. For 70 years Canlis in Seattle, Washington has been synonymous with fine dining. During the current crisis, they reinvented by narrowing down their menu. They now provide bagels and breakfast sandwiches in the mornings and burgers, salads, and ice-cream, in the evening all available via a drive-through.

Saint Dinette in St. Paul, Minnesota renowned as a fine-dining haven released its new menu exclusively for takeout, and delivery offering sandwiches, sides, and “combo meals.” 

Swedish hotel Stadt in Lidkoping transformed its bedrooms into private dining spaces,  accommodating groups of 2 to 12 people. Orders are taken over the phone and diners can opt to stay overnight for an additional fee.

Pizzerias known for their fresh handmade pasta and wood-fired pizza are taking up a challenge by offering pizza kits for home delivery.

Many states have lifted their laws on alcohol delivery, allowing restaurants to serve drinks to go. As Alcoholic drinks are a high-margin menu item, restaurants have grabbed this opportunity by offering  Margarita to-go, Whiskey Tasters, and Cocktail Kits.

Here are a few more ideas:

  • Offer family size meals
  • take-and-bake meals
  • Promoting gift cards – In addition to being an immediate source of revenue, gift cards encourage repeat visits and help you reach new customers. Considering the current situation you should opt for e-gift cards. There are several service providers that are working to provide restaurants with digital gift cards. Compare and select the best available option.

4. Managing Your Staff and Backend Operations

The safety and wellbeing of your staff is equally important. Working with smaller teams, staggering shifts, limiting the number of employees allowed simultaneously in break rooms and monitoring staff’s health on a daily basis can help you cope up with this challenge to some extent. 

Technological solutions can also help you in streamlining operations and minimizing contact.

a. Use communication boards or digital messaging to convey pre-shift meeting information.

b. Consider switching to a digital time card system that allows employees to clock-in from their phones.

c. A Kitchen Display System (KDS) system integrated with your POS can also help reduce. the interactions between front-of-house staff and the kitchen staff. A KDS displays orders as they are fed in the POS and updates change in orders and additions in real-time. It also tracks the time taken to prepare an order which helps the service staff work more efficiently.

Integrated with your restaurant POS, Kitchen Display Systems help to reduce wastage at your restaurant by monitoring order volume and inventory levels and alerting you when there is a shortage.

Wrap-Up

In the coming year, we can expect customers to pay more attention to cleanliness, health and hygiene standards, convenience, and ease of use.. as restaurant owners, it should be our goal to implement solutions and technologies that help create a stellar dining experience for our customers.

4 Tips to Create a Powerful Brand Online

Outstanding customer experience is the basis of any successful restaurant. It’s what sets you apart from the plethora of competitors and drives loyalty with your customers. In the digital age, knowing how to create a powerful brand online is as important as the in-store experience. Online presence not only strengthens your brand identity but also helps you reach a larger audience.

In this article, we’re going to show you how to create a powerful brand online by delivering seamless customer experience.

How do you attract customers to your restaurant?

1. Use Social Media to share pictures of your food and restaurant
2. Mobile Optimized and SEO Friendly website
3. Use Email Marketing to Reach More Customers
4. Run a restaurant Birthday Club
5. Partner with the local community for fundraisers 
6. Host Local Events
7. Give Coupons for Local events
8. Run a loyalty Program

How do you create a restaurant brand?

a. Define Your Identity
b. Identify your Target Audience
c. Give Your Brand a Voice
d. Work on your Look and Ambiance
e. Ensure that your Online Platforms reflect your brand identify
f. Customers service should be a reflection of your brand identify
g. Reward Loyalty

Tip 1: Respond To Every Comment and Complaint

For online reviews, the way you answer can affect other users’ experiences because they can read the reviews. So, as you respond, don’t forget that your comments are for more than just one customer. Best practices recommend you respond to every review, both positive and negative, in a timely manner. Online Reputation Management is therefore very important for a restaurant business.

Respond to every comments and complaints on Social Media to create a powerful brand online

Tip 2: Incorporation of  Chat-bots

At the core, restaurants are service businesses — they primarily care about providing the best possible experience for guests who visit their physical stores. Everything else, from their website to their marketing campaigns to their online customer service, is just a method to accomplishing that goal. For this reason, we think that chatbots are perfect for service-based businesses that are so focused on in-person experiences.

By answering questions automatically to real humans only when necessary, chatbots can help restaurants concurrently improve customer service and also save up time for their staff to spend promoting their actual in-restaurant experience. Dive in into these 8 examples How Restaurants Can Effectively Use Chatbots

Incorporation of Chat-bots as a strategy of create a powerful brand online

Tip 3: Emphasize On Customer Reviews

Capitalize on your positive customer reviews.

If a restaurant has great reviews on Google, make sure they show up on the website and all social media handles. Do the same with Google my business reviews.

By highlighting your reviews on your website, you’ll improve the customer experience. Your potential customers want to see social or material proof. They want to know others think highly of your restaurant. Learn more about our product KritiQ to take care of the reputation management requirements for your restaurant business.

Emphasize on customer reviews in order to enhance customer experience as a tip to create a powerful brand online

Tip 4: Make It Easier To Place An Order 

One more thing you can do to enhance the customer experience is making your online menu and shopping cart as easy as possible. A bad online ordering experience does zero for your website’s overall usability. Don’t dissipate your customers’ time by asking for too much information or by asking for too many item confirmations before the ultimate purchase. Discard the pop-ups and don’t incorporate too many additional offers. Have a look at our product Foodkonnekt-our integrated solution that can help you to add an additional revenue source while expanding your customer base.

Make it easier to place an order on your website

Wrap Up:

The grounds of any strong and successful restaurant begins with providing exceptional customer service. Whether you are a large chain restaurant or a small business, going above and beyond with your customers is a tactic that will drive repeat customers and thrust your revenue today, as well as in the future.

Images by: Rod Long, Jonas Leupe on Unsplash, Miguel Á. Padriñán on Pexels

Proven Strategies For Increasing Your Restaurant’s Online Orders

Providing the ease of online ordering to your customers can help you generate incremental sales for your restaurant and boost profitability. Besides, it can also help you to expand your reach, improve order accuracy, and help you get over the hassles of taking orders over the phone.

However, in a crowded restaurant space, just adopting an online ordering platform for your restaurant may not cut the mark. You have to work constantly to increase your restaurant’s online orders by making the platform more visible and making the online ordering experience smooth for your customers. Here are a few strategies for increasing your restaurant’s online orders. We can categorize these strategies into three groups.

What are the advantages of online ordering for your restaurant?

1. Online Ordering drives revenue: You can reach more customers online. The average order value of online orders is higher than in-store orders
2. Free up your Employees to provide a superior customer experience. Taking orders over the phone interferes with in-store services especially during rush hours and over the weekends. With an online ordering solution, employees do not waste time taking orders over the phone. 
3. Improves Order Accuracy: Disturbances while taking orders over the phone, can result in incorrect orders. On an online ordering solution, customers can easily enter the orders to the last detail improving order accuracy.
4. Losing customers: You will no longer lose orders during rush hours/ weekends due to busy phone lines.
5. Provide accurate estimates of pick-up and delivery times.

What features should you be looking for in an Online ordering Solution?

1. Ability to work across different browsers such as Chrome, Safari or Bing.
2. Availability on Mobile Platform
3. Multiple Payment Options including wallets like Apple Wallet and Samsung Pay.
4. PoS integrations

What are benefits of having a native online ordering solution for your restaurant?

1. Full Control Over Customer Experience
2. An extension of your brand identity: You can customize your online ordering platform to align with your brand identity; upload food pictures, add specials and offers, make instant and real-time changes to your menu.
3. Collect Crucial Customer Data to create customized experiences, and personalize your marketing messages and encourage repeat visits. Further by integrating your loyalty program to your online ordering solution, you can ensure that your loyalty customers can redeem their offers and coupons on online orders.
4. Keep Your Profits: By opting for an in-house solution, you can do away with commission charged by third party services on each order. All profits from online orders are your own.

How to increase your revenues with online ordering?

1. Native Online Ordering Platform
2. Optimize User Experience On Your Website and Online Ordering Platform:
3. Optimise your menu 
4. Provide Multiple Ways To Order
5. Make it easy to reorder Ensure that your online ordering system has the ability to save previous orders based on the timings, delivery address, and card information.
6. Offer Delivery
7. Promote your online ordering link via window displays and posters in prominent places such as the checkout counter.
8. Grab the attention of your customers when they are waiting for their food to arrive with table tents.
9. Menu inserts are also a great way to reach your customers.
10. Ensure that your online ordering link is prominently printed on your takeout packages and receipts.
11. Train your staff to promote your online ordering platform to your customers.
12. You could create a special offer or discount to promote online ordering among your customers.
13. Online promotions: If you are running any offer exclusively for promoting Online Orders, you must ensure that you are posting about these offers on your networks or running ads to reach a larger audience
14. Run contests to promote online Orders.

Technology Parameters for increasing your Restaurant’s Online Orders

1. Native Online Ordering Platform

Until a few years ago, only large restaurant chains could afford sophisticated software and global data infrastructure for the benefit of their business. However, the breakthroughs in cloud computing have now made these services accessible even to small family-owned restaurants.

There are several different solutions out there from third-party online ordering solution that can be integrated with your POS to the restaurant point of sale systems that have their own integrated restaurant online ordering software.

You can select a platform that meets your requirements. Here are a few things you should consider while building your native online ordering platform.

  1. Ability to work across different browsers: Your online ordering platform should work seamlessly across different browsers such as Chrome, Safari or Bing.
  2. Availability on Mobile Platform: The millennial customers prefer to order food-on-the-go using their mobile phones. So, it becomes important to ensure that your online ordering platform is optimized for mobile screens.
  3. Multiple Payment Options: Your online ordering system must have the ability to accept multiple payment options including wallets like Apple Wallet and Samsung Pay.
  4. PoS integrations With the advent of AI, smart online ordering options would become the norm of the day. POS integrations make it easier to automatically process orders accepted from the Online Ordering platform.

FoodKonnekt Online Ordering is one such solution that is available absolutely free of cost to restaurants. It is integrated with several PoS platforms including Clover, Focus PoS, FoodTronix and can be fully customized to align with your brand identity.

Foodkonnekt Online Ordering Platform: Increasing your restaurant's Online Orders

2. Consider a Mobile App for your Restaurant:

With the rapid advances in technology, developing an app for your restaurant is no longer going to burn a hole in your pocket. There are several benefits to having an independent app for your restaurant. An app makes it easier for you to promote offers and deals, or to roll out personalized offers based on customer’s purchase history to boost online-orders. It is also much easier to administer a loyalty program through a dedicated app.

However, regular maintenance and updates of a mobile app require additional resources in terms of time and money. Add to that the concerns associated with acquiring and retaining customers on your app, which may require consistent marketing efforts. So, you should consider the return on investment in the long-run before investing in an app.

Subway Online Ordering:Increasing Your Restaurant's Online Orders
Subway App Promotes Online Ordering

Optimize User Experience

Competition in a crowded market space provides customers with a wide array of choices. This has led to increased emphasis on user interface/user experience. A customer would not spend more than 2 minutes on your website/ online ordering platform if he/she does not find it appealing, intuitive and easy to use.

1. Optimize User Experience On Your Website

Optimize User Experience on website for increasing Your Restaurant's Online Orders
Wendy’s website is optimized for different devices
  1. The user experience on your website should be seamless across multiple devices. However, you would want to prioritize the mobile part of the user experience as the majority of the traffic comes from there.
  2. Your “Menu” should be easily accessible from the homepage of your website.
  3. The Order Online Button should appear prominently on the header of each page.
  4. Your Menu should feature good quality pictures of menu items with a description and price.
  5. Add to Cart options on the menu can make it easier for customers to save their preferences.
  6. Having a consistent menu across all platforms is another feature that you want to focus on to enhance the customer experience. Integration with POS should ensure that once an item is added on PoS the same should be automatically reflected on the online ordering platform.
Domino's Website
The Order Online Button appears prominently on the header of Domino’s Homepage
Domino's Menu Page: Optimize your website for increasing Your Restaurant's Online Orders
Domino’s provides the Order Now Button below each menu item
to make it easier to place an order

2. Optimize User Experience On Your Online Ordering Platform:

  1. Ensure that your online ordering system has the ability to save previous orders based on the timings, delivery address, and card information.
  2. Pop-up or menu-suggestions are a good way to draw attention to new menu items.
  3. The ability to keep track of the order status enhances user experience. Domino’s, for instance, enables customers to see where their order is in the delivery lifecycle.

3. Provide Multiple Ways To Order

In the digital age, where every other brand is vying for customers’ attention, you would need a broader strategy to stay on the top of your customer’s mind. One way to do this is by offering them the convenience of online ordering via multiple platforms – website, mobile, social media, voice assistants (Alexa, Google home, etc). The use of the latest cloud-based technologies will enable this kind of transition. 

Popular Brands like Dominos and Pizza Hut are already using technology to push online orders on various platforms. Take a look at all the ways you can now order a pizza from Domino’s

  • Text: If you have “Easy Order” set up in your Domino’s app account, you can order a pizza by texting a pizza emoji to DPIZZA (374992)
  • SmartWatch: If you own an Android Wear or Apple Watch, you can “Easy Order” your pizza from Domino’s. You can also schedule a pizza delivery.
  • Smart Car: If your Ford vehicle is equipped with the technology, you can order pizza on your way home via the Domino’s app Ford SYNC AppLink.
  • Twitter: You can also order your Pizza from Domino’s by tweeting #EasyOrder or sending pizza emoji to @Dominos via direct message.
  • Amazon Prime Now: If you’re using Amazon Prime Now services—you can order pizza from not just major brands but also from participating vendors in your local area.
  • Amazon Echo: With the Domino’s Skill for the Echo, you can reorder your last order, place an Easy Order, or track your order.

4. Offer Delivery

There is no denying the convenience of having food delivered to your doorstep. Most customers say they prefer to order online from restaurants that offer delivery. Offering delivery services can help you increase your restaurant’s online orders.

However, providing delivery services may not be the easiest thing to do. It involves a significant amount of logistics and can be a drain on resources. A good way to check if the benefits of providing delivery outweigh the costs is to run test cases in your local area for a stipulated time and work out the logistics before going for full-scale delivery service.

Tying up with third-party delivery services can also help you to take care of the delivery aspects. There is a lot of data to support that third-party delivery services can bring incremental sales for restaurants, however, there are costs associated with such services that you must factor in to adjudge the real value they bring to your business.

Once you have made the decision to go ahead with delivery, you should ensure that provide a great experience to keep your customers coming back.

Chipotle offering delivery: Offer delivery for increasing Your Restaurant's Online Orders
Chipotle Promotes Delivery Services on its Website

Here are a few tips that could help you to optimize the delivery experience:

  • Your delivery menus should ideally have only those food items that deliver well.
  • Food Packaging: You would want to ensure that food is packaged in proper containers so that it does not spill and get messed in the containers.
  • Invest in insulated food bags that keep hot items warm and cool items cool.
  • Ensure that you include add-ons such as sauces, dips, seasoning, paper napkins, and bio-degradable cutlery.
  • You could consider apps that help you to assign the delivery orders to your riders based on their availability and location. These apps can also help you track the location of the delivery person and the average time is taken to deliver an order.

Right Marketing to Increase Your Restaurant’s Online Orders

Promoting your online ordering platform consistently can help you reach more customers to increase your restaurant’s online orders.

In-Store Messaging:

In-store promotions should be a major part of your strategy to reach your regular customers and make them aware that they can order from your restaurant from the convenience of their homes.

In-store promotions to increase Your Restaurant's Online Orders
Pizza Hut Promotes Online Ordering through Offers
  1. Promote your online ordering link via window displays and posters in prominent places such as the check out counter.
  2. Grab the attention of your customers when they are waiting for their food to arrive with table tents.
  3. Menu inserts are also a great way to reach your customers.
  4. Ensure that your online ordering link is prominently printed on your takeout packages and receipts.
  5. Train your staff to promote your online ordering platform to your customers.
  6. You could create a special offer or discount to promote online ordering among your customers.
  7. If you don’t already have one, you should consider launching a loyalty program to promote your online ordering platform. Regular customers are your restaurant brand ambassadors and account for a major part of your sales.  Loyalty programs are an easy way to keep these customers returning to your restaurant and build a loyal customer base. They are also an ideal target to promote your online ordering platform.
In-store promotions
Pizza Hut Runs Offers Exclusive to Online Orders

Online Promotions

Social Media

Social Media platforms can be a great tool to reach your customers. Besides regular posts promoting your online ordering link, you should also consider advertising to reach your target audience on these networks.

Online Promotions to increase online orders
Papa John’s Promotes Online Ordering Through Social Media Posts

Here are a few other tips:

  • Replace the Call Now Button On Your Facebook Page with a Shop Now Button which leads customers directly to your Online Ordering Platform.
  • Remember to include the link to your Online Ordering Platform On Your Instagram Bio.
  • Instead of leading people to your Website from your twitter profile, send them directly to your online ordering page.
  • If you are running any offer exclusively for promoting Online Orders, you must ensure that you are posting about these offers on your networks or running ads to reach a larger audience
  • Run contests to promote online Orders.
Chipotle promotes delivery on it's Facebook Page to increase online orders
Chipotle promotes delivery on it’s Facebook Page

Online Presence

  • GMB Listing: Promote your online order link on your GMB page
  • Reputation Management: Before ordering food from any restaurant, customers usually check the website and review sites like TripAdvisor to get an idea of the quality of food and services. Ensure that your website is updated regularly and you have a well-organized system of monitoring and replying to reviews.

You may have to invest some time to promote your online ordering service in its initial days, but once it has taken off you can sit back and reap its benefits over the long run.

Increase Your Restaurant Revenues with FoodKonnekt Online Ordering

Which Food Delivery Service is Best for your Restaurant?

Food delivery and take-out services are two of the fastest-growing segments of the restaurant industry. The increasing popularity of these services can be attributed to the incredible amount of convenience they bring to the customers.  Customers can not only order and pay for food from their choice of restaurants using a single app interface, but many of their favorite eating joints which did not previously offer delivery, are now available on these apps. With the growing demand for these services, more and more restaurants are expected to jump on the bandwagon. Here is a quick overview of some of the best food delivery services.

Uber Eats

Uber Eats is a food delivery platform powered by Uber. They promote the partner Restaurant’s menu through the Uber Eats app, website, and various other channels.

How Does it Work?

After you have partnered with Uber Eats, customers can place an order from your restaurant on the Uber Eats App interface. Once you accept the order, the customer can track the order’s progress through the app. Uber Eats sends a delivery partner to pick up the order and deliver it to the customer.  

Commission

Uber Eats charges somewhere around a 30% cut on each order placed through their app, which includes delivery.  So, if your restaurant already has its own delivery service, Uber Eats may not be a very lucrative choice for you. Further, customers can not place pickup orders on Uber Eats.

Marketing and Advertising for Restaurants

You can pay an additional(optional) marketing fee if you want your restaurant to show up higher in user searches or appear as a promoted listing on the UberEats app.

Restaurant sign-up

Uber Eats restaurant sign-up

DoorDash

DoorDash is a food discovery and delivery app that gives restaurants access to an extended customer base.

How it works

Customers can register on the platform or download the app and select meals from restaurants of their choice. Once a restaurant accepts an order made through the app, Doordash will send a dasher to pick up the order and deliver it to the customer. Restaurants can also use Doordash’s delivery services to deliver orders they receive via their own online ordering system. All they need to do is set up a pickup location, a delivery location, and customer information.

Commission

DoorDash takes revenue potential, menus, and customer base into account while deciding on the commission it will charge a restaurant. Depending on the agreement with a restaurant, DoorDash will set a commission for orders placed on the app which can be anywhere between 10-25%. The commission charges include delivery. If you have your own delivery guys, then maybe  DoorDash would not be your preferred choice. There is no option for customers to place pick-up orders on the app.

Marketing and Advertising for Restaurants

As part of their business model, restaurants can feature their menus and promote their food on the app by paying an additional marketing fee.

Restaurant Sign-Up:

DoorDash Restaurant Sign-up

Grub Hub

GrubHub Inc. is a web commerce platform for ordering and delivering take-out food, based in Chicago.

How Does It Work?

Customers can search through a list of restaurants and place their order through the app. After receiving the order GrubHub redirects it to the particular restaurant. The restaurant in turn prepares and packs the order for delivery. GrubHub delivery personnel picks up the order from the restaurant and delivers it to the customer.

Commission

GrubHub’s commission ranges from 5% to 15 % per order depending on the location of your restaurant and the number of restaurants in your vicinity. The average commission charged from restaurants is around 13.5 % per order. This does not include delivery charges, if you want to avail of their delivery services, you would have to pay an additional cost of 10% per order taking the total rev-share to 23.5% on average.

Grub hub allows customers to place pick-up orders. Further, if your restaurant has its own food delivery service in place, you can use GrubHub to expand your customer base.

Marketing and Advertising for Restaurants

Restaurants can pay an additional amount to appear on the top of user searches as sponsored listings. The average commission to appear as a sponsored listing comes close to 20% per order.

Restaurant Sign-up

Postmates

Postmates offers delivery or pickup services from restaurants, retails shops, grocers, and more to its clients. Postmates workers move around the city waiting for an order to come in, much like Uber drivers.

How it Works

Customers can search and select the restaurant they want to order food from. After they have confirmed the order and paid for it, Postmates relays the orders to the partner restaurant. A Postmate shows up at a particular restaurant to pick up and deliver the food to the customer.

In all probability, the app connects the customer to the Postmate courier nearest to the restaurant they wish to order from.  Customers can order from your restaurant via Postmates even if the restaurant has not partnered with Postmates. However, “Postmates Partnered restaurants have access to superior marketing/visibility on the application as well as faster and cheaper deliveries for customers.”

Postmates charges the customers a flat delivery fee of $3.99 for deliveries from restaurants that have “partnered” with and $5.99 for restaurants that haven’t. In addition, no service fee is charged from customers ordering food from partnered restaurants. So, if you have partnered with Postmates customers find it cheaper to order from your restaurant.

Commission

Depending on various factors, Postmates charges a commission between 15 and 30% per order from restaurants.

Marketing and Advertising for Restaurants

Restaurants can pay an additional amount to appear on the top of user searches as sponsored listings.

Restaurant Sign-up 

Postmates- sign-up

Caviar

Caviar is an on-demand food delivery startup owned by Square. You can order from Caviar’s website or the Caviar iOS and Android app. It caters to higher quality restaurants and is selective in choosing its restaurant partners. 

How Does it Work?

Customers can place an order from your restaurant on the caviar app.  Caviar allows customers to place both pick-up and delivery orders.

Commission

The average commission is around 12% for pick up orders. If you want to avail of their delivery services, Caviar will charge a standard delivery fee of 28% of the order value.

Marketing and Advertising for Restaurants

Restaurants can pay an additional amount to appear on the top of user searches as sponsored listings.

Restaurant Sign-up 

Restaurant- Sign-Up

Are Third-Party Delivery Services Good for your Restaurant?

In an era where convenience takes precedence overall, more and more customers are choosing to order food from restaurants that offer delivery. To keep up with customer expectations, restaurants are under pressure to provide a seamless delivery experience.

However, the cost associated with setting up in-house delivery is significant. On the other hand, third-party delivery services, which seem like the smart choice in this scenario, are extracting hefty commissions. Most restaurant owners are in a  dilemma over the in-house versus third-party delivery debate. In this article, we discuss the pros and cons of both these options to help you choose better.

In-House Delivery

In-house delivery requires restaurants to hire a dedicated delivery staff and preferably their own fleet of vehicles to deliver food to customers.

Pros

a. Control over the Customer Experience

Setting up your own delivery services allows you to control the entire delivery experience, including the timeline or any additional benefits you may want to offer to your customers.

b. Customer Engagement:

By offering in-house delivery, you have a greater opportunity to engage directly with your customers and immediately resolve any issues that may crop up in the delivery process.

c. Customer Data:

If your customers are placing their orders directly through your website or app, you have access to all relevant data for these customers, which helps you to strategize and build on your future marketing plans.

d. Builds Brand loyalty:

When a customer uses your website or app to order, the customers are engaging directly with your brand. This helps you to build brand loyalty in the long run.

Cons

a. High Costs:

The costs required to set up and maintain your own delivery fleet can be quite high.

b. Logistical Concerns:

Offering a smooth in-house delivery experience requires a lot of effort in terms of people, time, and resources, and management of the delivery drivers.

c. Responsibility:

If anything goes wrong with the delivery experience, such as a delay in delivery orders or food not reaching the customers in the right state- your brand is directly affected, there can be no blame-shifting in this case.

Third-Party Delivery

As an alternative, you could outsource the entire delivery service to another company. You can tie up with companies like GrubHub, Doordash, and Ubereats to take care of processing orders and delivering food to customers on behalf of your restaurant.

With 60 percent of U.S. consumers ordering delivery or takeout once a week, the third-party delivery market is expected to grow to a value of $24.5 billion by 2022.

Pros

a. Convenience:

Opting for third-party delivery services is definitely the more convenient way of delivering food to your customers as it outsources the entire gamut of logistical concerns related to processing orders and delivering food on time to another company.

b. New Customers

57 percent of millennials claim that they prefer food to be delivered by restaurants so they can stay home to watch movies and TV shows. If you are not offering delivery, you are missing out on these customers.

By tying up with the third-party delivery services you gain access to a much wider audience native to these apps. Many customers who may have previously shied away from ordering from your restaurant due to the nonavailability of delivery services would now be ready to order from you. In many cases, customers who get a taste of your food through these online orders may choose to visit your location at a later stage.

c. Cut Down on Costs

By opting for a third-party delivery service, you can save a significant amount of costs required for setting up and maintenance of the delivery fleet.

d. Increase in Sales

60 percent of restaurant owners claim that offering delivery services has generated incremental sales. Offering your menu on these platforms introduces your brand to a wider set of audience, thereby increasing the average number of online orders your restaurant receives.

e. Better Allocation of Resources

Once you have outsourced delivery, you have more time and resources on your hands to focus on the quality of food and services that you bring to the table. 

f. Marketing and Advertising

Most third-party delivery companies provide advertising and marketing for restaurants on their app for an additional cost. You no longer have to worry about devising strategies to reach new customers, as these services take care of the same.

Cons

a. Loss of Control Over Customer Experience

By opting to outsource deliveries to a third-party, you lose control over several aspects of the customer experience. Factors such as traffic, an excessive number of orders, the state in which the food is delivered can affect your brand reputation.

Several restaurants have complained of untrained delivery staff hired by third-party delivery services. There have been several reported incidents of delivery drivers disrupting the normal functioning of the restaurants during pick-ups, or sour behavior with the customers. 

b. Declining Revenues

In the long run, many restaurants claim that in spite of the increase in the number of online orders received per month, they are witnessing a decline in their profits due to the high margin charged by these services on every order placed through their app.

Your restaurant may not be equipped to handle the increased number of orders that you are likely to receive via these apps. To meet the demand and to ensure the smooth operation of your in-store services, you may have to handle additional staff. There are several such administrative costs that may arise in the long run, which impinge on your margins.

c. A Decline in Brand loyalty

When a customer orders from your restaurant via these apps, there is no direct engagement between these customers and your restaurant.  So, effectively customers who are ordering from your restaurant via the app become customers of the app or the service. They owe their loyalty to the app instead of your restaurant. According to a survey, 43 percent of restaurant professionals said they believe third-party apps hamper the direct relationship between a restaurant and its customers. 

d. Loss of Customer Data

Most third-party delivery services in the restaurant industry are not sharing customer data with the restaurants. Restaurants no longer have any means to reach these customers directly or build on their marketing strategies to retain these customers in the future.

e. Vulnerable to Competition

Once you make your restaurant available on these apps, your brand is competing with all the restaurants in the vicinity that offer similar food. So a customer will choose to order from you only if you are at the top of your game.

Further, your restaurant may not appear at the top of search results on third-party apps, in spite of having higher ratings, as ranking on these apps is also determined by the amount you are paying to these services.

Most of the third-party delivery services are big companies with huge marketing budgets. In order to promote their app, they are offering huge offers and discounts on orders placed through their app. Individual restaurants may not be able to compete with these offers, further discouraging customers to order directly from them. Many restaurant owners feel it’s similar to losing your customers to the app.

Wrap-up

When faced with the question of whether to opt for a third-party delivery company or set up your own,  you must consider all the above-mentioned factors before deciding what would work best for you. A detailed cost-benefit analysis with a long term perspective- will help you make a better decision.

5 Restaurant Marketing Strategies For The Holiday Season

The holiday season starts in Nov & Dec but for some, it starts much before –  40 percent of consumers begin their holiday shopping before Halloween each year. It is the busiest season with some retailers accounting for 30% of their annual sales. The projected retail sales during the holiday season are around $700B. Most restaurants witness a major jump in sales during this time. If you want to promote your small business this holiday season, you need to prepare in advance. We have detailed five Restaurant marketing strategies for the holiday season.

Start Early & Have a Plan

a. Hire & train staff:

Given the seasonal nature and high competition, start looking at hiring and training staff early on. You want to put the best foot forward and highly trained and motivated staff is what you want during the holiday season rush.

b. Plan out the specials & events you want to organize –

Halloween contest, Black Friday/Cyber Monday deals and Christmas specials.

c. Inventory Check:

Make sure you have planned the required inventory for your events and specials.

d. Back-Up Plan:

Based on your prior experience come up with “what if” scenarios and have backup plans for these scenarios.

Focus on Customer Engagement

Now that you have lined up your ducks in terms of events and specials it is time to let your existing and potential customers know about these specials. The earlier you let your customers know about these specials/events the better off you are

a. Create events/specials on your website and social media sites.

If you plan to host any kind of event, it is better to have a landing page where your customers might sign up (on Facebook or on your website).

b. Email marketing:

Build your customer email list and start informing them along with links to events and specials so that your customers can plan accordingly.

c. Social Media:

Use social media to the hilt – have an advertising budget that you would like to spend on promoting these specials and events.

d. In-store decoration:

Decorate your store early on based on your planned activities. Have posters, lights and another kind of decor that would give the festive look.

Plan Co-Marketing Activities

The more the merrier and this applies to the holiday season. Have a plan as to what other local merchants/partners you can work with

  • Identify strategic partners with whom you can work with to execute co-marketing activities
  • Come up with a value proposition for your partners, their customers, and your customers. For example, if you are a retail toy store, reach out to local Montessori schools with specials for kids, or if you are a restaurant- work with a local mall and see if you can give customers with black Friday bill a freebie
  • Come up with an execution and promotion plan (see customer engagement) that includes the customer base of yours and your strategic partner.

Emphasize on Gift Cards

If you are thinking of restaurant marketing strategies for the Holiday season, you cannot ignore gift cards. Over the past ten years, there has been an increase in the amount that customers are spending on gift cards. As a small business you can ride this wave:

  • Identify whether you want to have physical or e-gift cards or both.
  • Identify with whom you would like to partner with (for example you can join OpenTable Gift program – https://go.opentable.com/rd-gifts.html).
  • If possible have an offer on gift cards and promote the availability of the cards (sell them online, social media and in the store).
  • Run a special for your gift cards.

Partner with a local charity

Even though this falls within the ambit of co-marketing activities we want to emphasize the fact that the holiday season is also considered the season of giving.

  • Identify a local charity that your customers associate themselves with
  • Approach them to organize a fundraiser or some sort of an event. For example work with local Salvation Army or Toys For Tots to raise funds for kids/toys.
  • If possible involve your customers – for example, if you are a restaurant explore the option of involving your customers in organizing a Thanksgiving feast at a local soup kitchen.
  • Promote the partnership and announce the results so that your customers can understand what kind of impact you/they had on this non-profit.

To have a great holiday season, it is imperative that you start early with a plan and set of activities that are in line with the plan. Define a set of metrics that you want to measure so that you can understand whether your plan was successful for this year and how it can be improved for future holiday seasons. With the above restaurant marketing strategies for the Holiday season,  you can ensure a higher footfall at your restaurant. Happy Holidays!!!

Restaurant Email Marketing: Best Practices and Tips

Restaurant email marketing is a great way to reach out to your customers on a regular basis and build long term bonds.  In the highly competitive restaurant space where almost every other restaurant is using emails to reach out to their customers, it becomes difficult to make oneself stand out from the crowd. However, if done correctly, restaurant email marketing campaigns help you to fill your restaurant’s tables and nurture long-term loyalty.

Can-Spam Act

Can spam act-Restaurant Email Marketing:

The CAN-SPAM Act is a law that lays down the rules for all commercial email. It is advisable to go through the guidelines of the Can-Spam Act before you begin your restaurant email marketing campaign. Here we are listing down the broad directives of the Act:

  1. Don’t use false or misleading header information.
  2. Don’t use deceptive subject lines. The subject line must accurately reflect the content of the message.
  3. Identify the message as an ad.
  4. Tell recipients where you’re located. Every email communication must have a valid physical postal address.
  5. Every communication must include a clear and conspicuous way in which the recipient can opt out of getting an email from you.
  6. You must Honor opt-out requests promptly. Any unsubscribe button or opt-out mechanism you offer must be available for at least 30 days from the day you send your message. An opt-out request must be honored within 10 business days.
  7. If you have hired an agency or a person to market on your behalf, it falls on you to ensure what they are doing on your behalf is in agreement with the guidelines of the act.

Buying a customer list is never a good idea. It is recommended that you must have the implicit or explicit permission of your customers before mailing them.

Email Segmentation

Email segmentation basically refers to dividing your customer list into categories enabling you to customize your message according to the target audience in each category. Emails sent out to segmented lists have a 90.79% higher click-through rate than those sent to the non-segmented list.

Email Segmentation- Restaurant Email Marketing:
Effect Of List Segmentation on Email Marketing

Emails sent out to segmented lists have a 90.79% higher click-through rate than those sent to the non-segmented list. You can segment your lists based on

  • Geographic
  • Demographics
  • Psychographics
  • Customer behavior
Customer Segments- Restaurant Email Marketing:

As you gather more data you have on your customers, you can create better and more targeted segments. Here are a few examples of customer segments based on customer behavior.

  • Purchase history
  • Coupons Redemption Rate
  • Visit frequency
  • Average spends
  • Food Preferences
  • Cart Abandonments
  • Loyalty Members
  • Last purchase

Tailoring focussed campaigns for each of these customer segments helps you to deliver more value to your customers and obtain higher conversions for your business.

Email Automation

Automated Emails covert 2.4 times more than bulk emails. This requires you to define rules that trigger an email, which is sent out without any additional effort on your part. Automation ensures that you deliver content at the right time to your audience. It helps you to foster better customer relations by establishing an uninterrupted communication cycle and providing constant support to your customers.

Email Automation- Restaurant Email Marketing:

Let’s say you have a pop-up on your website inviting customers to join your birthday club. Once a customer signs up, he expects a confirmation email. Now manually sending out these emails is a tedious job! The better way to do it is simply automating such processes. Here are a few examples of nature of Restaurant email marketing campaigns that you could automate

  • Welcome email
  • Feedback forms
  • Confirmation Email
  • Birthday/ Anniversary mail
  • Cart abandonment
  • Subscription renewal emails
  • Emailers to non-active/dormant members

Split Testing

Split Testing- Restaurant Email Marketing:

Split testing helps you to optimize your campaigns for better conversions. Also referred to as A/B testing, it helps you to conduct controlled experiments with the goal of checking out which of two campaign options is the most effective in terms of encouraging customers to open, click, covert or subscribe.

Two variations of the email copy are sent to two small randomly generated sets of the customer. Half of the test group is sent Version A, while the other half gets Version B without any of the recipient’s knowing that they are part of an experiment. The results from each version are measured by the numbers opens or clicks and compared to determine which version performed better.

These are some of the parameters on which you can perform an A/B test to see which one does better.

  • Email Subject Line
  • Email Body
  • Email Design
  • CTAs

Responsive Design

Responsive Design- Restaurant Email Marketing:

While you may be designing your email on a desktop or laptop, you cannot be sure that all your target audience will access the same on a device. In fact with the proliferation of technology most customers check their emails, visit social media sites or browse the internet on their mobiles devices. Using a responsive email template helps you to optimize your email for different devices your customers may use.

Focus on CTAs

To encourage customers to take action, your email must have a clear and precise CTA. You should refrain from including too many call-to-action buttons in a single mail as this may confuse your customers and deliver sub-optimal results.

CTAs- Restaurant Email Marketing:

We recommend that you

  • Include CTA in the Email subject line.
  • Use contrasting colors to help the CTA stand out.
  • Link your CTA to a dedicated website landing page.

Integrate your Social Media Strategy

Every email is an opportunity to further connect with your customers on your social media handles. The good thing about connecting on social media is that you have the opportunity to update your handle more regularly than you can send an email. This means that your customers can have daily updates and reminders on offers.

Social Media Integration- Restaurant Email Marketing:

It is even better to add social share buttons to your email. Besides increasing the reach and visibility of your email, it helps you to grow your email list. This can also help you to identify key influencers- in terms of customers who are sharing your emails on a regular basis. The data can be used to create campaigns to harness the power of these influencers by providing them referral incentives.

Social Media Integrations- Restaurant Email Marketing:

Tips

  • Add social media buttons
  • Invite subscribers to share your Emails

Update Preference Center

While most marketers spend a considerable amount of time tweaking and optimizing their campaign, relatively less attention is given to overall customer experience. A preference center is an integral part of your brand identity. How much effort you put into crafting your preference center shows how much you care about the convenience of your customers.

Preference centers -Restaurant Email Marketing:

Allow customers full control over the

  • Number of Emails
  • Kinds of Communication
  • Ability to change Email Id
  • Any other preferences

Clean your lists on a Regular Basis

Cleaning your email list refers to removing inaccurate information from your list from time to time. It is a good practice to clean your customer list once every 90-120 days. You can do it manually, however, if you have a customer list exceeding a few thousand it is better to use an automated process.

Cleaning Your Email List -Restaurant Email Marketing:
Cleaning your email list
  • Get rid of wrong or spammy Email-ids
  • Remove customers who have not opened your emails for more than 3-4 months
  • Remove unsubscribes

Besides, reducing your email marketing costs, this exercise helps you to deliver better ROI as you are continuously progressing towards a set of audience who is interested in listening from your brand.

Figure the Best Days and Time to Mail

Tuesdays and Thursdays were adjudged to be the fest days to send out your emails by several studies in this domain. The best times  were

  • 6 a.m
  • 10 a.m.
  • 2 p.m
  • 8 p.m.
Best Day and Time -Restaurant Email Marketing:

Weekends, public holidays deliver lower open and click-through rates and the same goes for office hours. While there are several industries laid guidelines pertaining to the best time and days to send out an email. It is always best to figure out the days and times that work for you within the broader standard laid down by your business segment. You can do an experiment on this by varying the day and time that you send out your campaigns and comparing the results over a period of time.

Wrap Up

Finally, the success of your restaurant Email Marketing Campaigns depends on how well craft your messages and the effort you put in creating a unique experience for your customers. Keep these guidelines in mind while designing your next campaign!

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