Technology continues to evolve in the food industry, becoming one of the most important channels through which restaurants can connect with their customers. Recent surveys show that customers prefer ordering food online and through mobile applications rather than calling restaurants directly and ordering by phone. Research also shows that online orders result in more money spent per customer, with 15 to 20% higher check averages than traditional phone orders. Online ordering benefits restaurants and patrons alike, with convenience, speed, better customer service and cost savings. Offer online ordering services as a sure way to attract new customers, increase sales and satisfy current clients.
According to eMarketer, 52% of US internet users would use a smartphone or tablet to order home delivery or takeout if the option were available. Millennials make up the majority of this group (74%) and favor mobile ordering due to its ease of use and order accuracy. Furthermore, 55% of the consumers surveyed have used mobile applications to find information about restaurants and menu prices, 46% to check hours of operation for and 45% to search for nearby restaurants. Now is the time to grow your digital presence and offer online ordering to attract this tech-savvy demographic.
Choosing the online ordering platform that’s right for your business is crucial, as it can impact customer loyalty, branding and the ability to monitor sales results. Online ordering can also help business owners collect customer information (such as email addresses) for marketing purposes. There are several options for incorporating an online ordering system into your restaurant operations. One way is to have customers order directly through the restaurant’s website, letting operators maintain control of client lists and ensuring customer security. Another option is to link up your business with a third-party ordering system. This type of platform can provide great exposure and promotional opportunities, but there is a risk of losing customers by exposing them to a list of competitive restaurants (by cuisine type or neighborhood, for example). Third-party ordering also means that control over sales and user data ultimately does not lie in the hands of restaurant owners. A third option is to consider dedicated point-of-sale (POS) software, which manages menus and customer orders in one unified system. POS systems can be completely customized, often with the help of software consultants who specialize in this technology. Though not embedded directly in a restaurant’s website and perhaps less flexible than other online ordering systems, a POS system is easy to configure.
At Sysco, we understand the important roles that digital platforms play in growing your business. That why we’ve created a program called Solutions & Services, focused on POS services, inventory management, online ordering, web/social media presence and loyalty/rewards programs—the tools to help you drive restaurant traffic. For a POS service that offers better value, drives sales, cuts costs and puts the operator in control, give Leapset a try. This subscription-based service is a great way to introduce online ordering for your restaurant. Insights is a useful credit card payment processing program. Need help improving the overall customer experience? Guest Manager is the ideal tool for helping hosts seat guests in a more efficient way, with optimized seating solutions and text messages sent to customers when their tables are ready. To learn about these valuable services, visit www.gobeyondfood.com.
Ultimately, the best solution for online ordering depends on your specific operational needs. Consider your budget, objectives and location, and set goals for what you’d like to achieve in terms of the overall customer experience. Making these digital updates will help you stay ahead of the game and attract the coveted millennial demographic, a group that truly lives and thrives on technology.