In response to the rapid spread of COVID-19, many restaurants began to embrace the use of technology in order to continue generating revenue. Of course, this pivot was also warranted by a tight labor market, which was marked by low unemployment rates and many unfilled job vacancies in the sector. While implemented out of pure necessity, online ordering systems have taken much of the world by storm, even as economies rebound and restaurants start to offer seating at full capacity once again.
All signs point to restaurant online sales being here to stay. So, this begs the question: what are the best methods to increase revenue through online sales as the world begins to “reopen”?
With the social distancing and the shifting in consumer behaviors, the use of mobile ordering in restaurants has been increasing rapidly since 2018 till now and still increasing. GenZ and Millennials are driving this trend more than other demographics; however, other demographics are starting to adapt and and increase their usages in mobile ordering as well.
Ensuring that online ordering is accessible to customers is the first step toward using it to boost revenue. Web ordering is still widely accessible, but not nearly as popular among younger generations that take full advantage of ordering ahead.
For many restaurants, mobile ordering is where it’s at–and sometimes in the form of a standalone app. However, it’s important to note that building and maintaining a mobile application specifically for restaurant online sales can be quite an expensive venture. Unless you’re a stakeholder of a food chain or a large enterprise, this is probably not the most cost-effective option to make mobile ordering accessible to customers.
A different alternative for smaller businesses comes in the form of marketplace mobile apps that are tailored specifically for online ordering. Enrolling in these kinds of platforms is typically incredibly easy and inexpensive, and they usually offer significant exposure to frequent online orderers. But the biggest drawback? Many of these platforms take inflated commission rates from merchants–sometimes as much as 25% of each sale made through the app. While these platforms offer a large number of independent businesses the opportunity to make additional sales through online orders, many smaller restaurants may not be able to sacrifice such a significant cut. Snappmeal, an mobile order platform among the likes of UberEats, Wolt, JustEat, and Foodora, is one of very few apps that takes as little as 5-10% in commissions from every merchant sale.
As mentioned, marketplace applications are certainly revolutionary for restaurants of all sizes, seeing as they allow businesses to gain access to large numbers of new customers; but seldom do they allow restaurants to build loyal customer bases. In fact, restaurants are not able to track or even access data from previous sales through marketplace apps, which ultimately leaves businesses unable to continually engage with patrons.
Fortunately, mobile app builders have created an innovative solution. Snappmeal not only provides restaurants with great access to their own customer databases, but the application also offers full access to marketing features (e.g. direct messages, emails, push notifications) within the app to spread the word of their ongoing promotions. Snappmeal seals the deal by drawing in restaurants and customers alike using in-app loyalty program tools to reward returning patrons.
As a general rule, restaurants should always provide ample information as to how patrons can place orders online. For ease of access, these should be in the form of physical signage: perhaps through labels posted on counters or QR codes stuck on paper bags, receipts, or take-away boxes to remind customers of the restaurant’s online presence.
Businesses can supplement in-store information with an informative company website. To help customers navigate the online ordering process, restaurants can display a clickable banner or button on the landing page that will redirect patrons to the restaurant menu. Better yet, integrate a pop-up on your website landing page that automatically prompts customers to order online.
Establishing and maintaining your business’s online presence is one of the easiest ways to direct customers to online ordering. In addition to your company’s normal marketing efforts, be sure to inform them of the simplicity of restaurant online sales. In just a few clicks, customers can pay for a delicious meal, skip the long wait, and even have it delivered without ever having to get up off the couch.
Clue your loyal customers in on the simplicity of online ordering by spreading the word down your business’s existing contact lists. Whether in the form of a brief email promotion or text message, a quick reminder of this feature will be sure to redirect patrons over to your restaurant’s online order system. While email marketing is the best way to convey more detail to your patrons, a staggering 70% of customers say that SMS marketing is one of the best ways for businesses to get their attention.
Nothing beats a discount, especially when it applies to your favorite take-away. If you’re looking for ways to drive more customers to order online, try offering first-time order, limited-time, and loyalty program offers to draw new and existing customers to your business. As many as 45% of consumers state that offering loyalty programs would encourage them to utilize a restaurant’s online ordering services more often, which is certainly enough of a sign for businesses to incentivize this method.
However, once the promotions are created, it’s equally important for businesses to spread the word of them far and wide: via email, text, social media, and on-site signage. Remember: the more patrons taking advantage of these great offers, the better!
It might make sense for businesses to want to emulate the on-site customer experience through online ordering, but it’s absolutely vital for restaurants to strategize their online menus for readability. For example, some popular on-site dishes just might not make the most sense for take-away or delivery, yet many restaurants still list an overwhelming number of menu items online. Overall, it’s in the restaurant and customer’s best interest to simplify these menus by choosing the items that are most suitable for online ordering. Consider removing menu choices that don’t travel well or maintain their quality if they’ve sat in a box for some time. In all, ensure that all menu items offered online are ultimately profitable for the restaurant.
Worried that customers might miss any menu items you remove from online ordering? Offer a sweet deal in the form of combo dishes that bundle the most popular menu items. When in doubt, aim to create an online ordering experience that is simple and enticing for every customer!
Modern consumers are becoming increasingly conscious of their impact on the environment. Mitigate this concern for your patrons by opting for more eco-friendly options for take-away packaging. For example, when using the Snappmeal app, customers can actually choose whether they receive their meal with sustainable packaging. While this is a small detail in the online ordering process, it speaks volumes to your customer base.
By storing all order information in a centralized place, your business can better manage every sale. This way, staff can easily reference the details of restaurant online sales in order to fulfill them correctly, which will ultimately drive more customers to use this efficient method of order placement.
Though restaurants face the challenge of not having direct contact with patrons after they place online orders, businesses have the opportunity to nurture customer relationships through personalized thank-you cards or handwritten notes on take-away bags. Whatever the signature touch is for your restaurant, it can make all the difference for customers who can’t experience the hospitality of dine-in service.
Claim some prime digital real estate for your restaurant by editing your Google My Business listing regularly. Within it, include a link to your restaurant’s online order system, as well as all updated business hours. These minor details can serve as a valuable resource for Internet users, who are already more likely to place restaurant online orders.
As businesses began to imagine the trajectory of sales after the height of the pandemic, it’s important that restaurants implement these best practices in order to preserve the popularity of online ordering.
Interested in employing Snappmeal as a low-commission, marketplace mobile app for your restaurant? Click here for the full rundown of its intuitive features to better serve your customer base.