Omnichannel ordering: Why you should take (back) control of your dining experience

To understand omnichannel ordering, you first need some context. In the past, restaurants had complete control of the dining experience. They chose everything from greeters and lighting to how and when to serve each dish. Nowadays, there are third-party solutions that provide convenience in exchange for reduced control and higher costs.

Delivery/takeout solutions and third-party apps were vital for restaurants’ survival during the COVID-19 pandemic. But now the tides have (once again) turned, in-person dining is back, and guests have more ways to dine than ever before. And now restaurants have the opportunity to take back control of their dining experience with omnichannel ordering.

What is “Omnichannel Ordering”?

The concept of “omnichannel” is most common in the fields of inventory management and retail. Nevertheless, when it comes to restaurants and foodservice, “omnichannel” takes on the same meaning. Simply put, “omnichannel ordering” is when customers can experience a consistent ordering experience (online, in-restaurant, from their mobile devices, from apps, etc.) no matter how and where they are ordering (takeout, delivery, dine-in, etc.). Omnichannel ordering creates a seamless, customer-centric experience that is consistent, and the does not impact the guest experience no matter where they order from.

Let’s put this into a real-world example. Let’s say you own a burger spot that supports omnichannel ordering. If a customer wants to eat at your restaurant, they have many options. They could:

  1. Dine-in and access the menu, order, and pay all from their mobile device
  2. Order takeout from your app, social media, or website and pick up it themselves
  3. Order delivery your restaurant through your website/app

Each of these options is controlled exclusively by your restaurant. Also, most importantly, the quality of food, ease of ordering, and level of service are the same.

Benefits of Omnichannel Ordering

The benefits of omnichannel ordering vary from place to place. Nonetheless, here are some benefits that apply to most restaurants:

1. More satisfied customers

With omnichannel ordering, you can put your customers back at the center of your business. How? By giving them options when it comes to where and when they want to order and eat. Ever since the pandemic, people have loved the ability to enjoy normal activities from safety of their own home. In other words, flexibility and convenience are were essential. According to Restaurant Business Online, 39% of people prioritize ease of use when ordering takeout, and 50% prioritize ease of use for delivery. Overall, Food in Canada reported that 33.8% of Canadians ranked convenience as the top reason for ordering food online.

By giving customers the power to order for themselves, ordering mistakes decrease, and guests can have more time to explore menu options. All of this leads to more satisfied customers and money in your pocket.

2. New revenue streams

Without a doubt, a segment of guests love the traditional dining experience. Yet, some customers enjoy the comfort of eating at home more than eating out. In fact, PYMNTS has even found that 55% of people prefer ordering food without having to interact with a person. Even more, ordering food helps customers who may not have the time to sit down and eat, but enjoy outside food.

Reach all of your potential customers by offering them multiple ordering options to suit their needs. Omnichannel ordering opens up new revenue streams and attracts new customers. In fact, Skip the Dishes Canada found that 81% of customers ordered from a restaurant in 2020 that they’ve never been to in person. According to Restaurant Business, 60% of restaurant operators have reported that offering delivery has generated incremental sales.

3. Better control of your operations

One of the main benefits of omnichannel ordering is that it allows restaurants to take back control of the experience. By managing the ways customers get your food, you can have a better say in how everything operates. For example, by offering your own takeout and delivery service, you get to choose what branding goes on the packaging, how much to charge for delivery, how fast to deliver the food, and more. (If you want more on this topic, read Takeout and delivery: Why you should offer your own (and how).)

Customers also like when restaurants control the experience because it’s what made them successful in the first place. It creates increased trust and greater customer loyalty. CitrusBits reported that 51.5 % of customers want their food delivered with the restaurant’s own app. Likewise, they found that 52% of diners trust a restaurant’s mobile app over a third-party delivery service, and 74% wished more restaurants would offer a delivery service of their own.

4. A seamless, consistent dining experience

Altogether, omnichannel ordering means guests get the same experience everywhere. Regardless of where the food comes from, what they order, and how they receive it, the goal is consistency. Repeat customers can enjoy your food multiple times from different channels, with a good experience every time.  Plus, since you won’t have to pay high commission fess (like with third-party apps), you can charge lower prices, offer larger portions, or both!

How to Implement Omnichannel Ordering

Omnichannel ordering can fit well with your business model. Third-party ordering apps are a pivotal part of many restaurants’ business models and with good reason. They are excellent marketing tools that help you acquire new customers, but why should you pay high customer acquisition costs more than once? With an omnichannel strategy, it’s up to you to decide how much you invest in these marketplaces.

With new revenue from increased orders and better margins, you will need to ensure that you have the resources to mange these different ordering streams, but luckily there are many tools that can help. As well, omnichannel requires investments in technology. QR or NFC beacons, social media management, and responsive websites are all good examples. What’s more, you will need ensure your customers know how to order from you which could require the use of social media, windows displays, responsive, digital menus and more .For some tips on social media marketing for restaurants, check out 5 tips for optimizing your social media to increase online ordering.

If you’re interested in exploring omnichannel ordering for your restaurant, App8 can help. We provide everything you need to implement omnichannel in a way that brings out the best in your establishment.

5 benefits of contactless dining

Since the start of the pandemic, people have been dining out (and in) differently. Many sources have pointed to the emergence of contactless dining in restaurants as a trend that is here to stay:

  • According to an article by CitrusBits, 46% of consumers expect restaurants to offer online/mobile or kiosk/tabletop ordering functionality, and 43% preferred mobile payment during the pandemic.
  • Based on a report by Datassential, 82% of customers think it would be right for restaurants to offer contactless payment after pandemic restrictions are lifted, and 81% feel the same way about contactless ordering.
  • In a global study by Mastercard, 8 in 10 respondents viewed contactless as a cleaner, faster, more efficient way to pay.

And the list goes on. So, now you might be wondering, what exactly is contactless dining and why should I consider it for my restaurant?

What is contactless dining?

Let us start by defining contactless dining. Contactless dining is a simple, easy, and effective technological solution to dine-in service that removes or reduces points of contact between the guests, the restaurant staff, and the sharing of common items.

Of course, contactless dining is not meant to weaken the quality of the dine-in experience. Servers and hosts can still interact with customers and provide hospitality; In fact, with properly implemented solutions, servers will have more time to interact with their guests.

Contactless dining is supported by technology such as QR codes and NFCs to let customers view digital menus, order food to their table, and pay for their meals entirely on their own. You can see examples of this service on our own site through our contactless table service and mobile ordering pages.

Now that you know what contactless dining is, we can dive into what it can do for you. Here are 5 benefits of contactless dining that apply to just about any establishment.

5 benefits of contactless dining

1. Turn static menus into flexible ones

Imagine this: you printed 50 new menus for your restaurant. They look amazing, with all your best dishes proudly displayed on the front. But then, someone points out a typo. What do you do? Do you leave it and hope no one notices, or print out 50 new menus?

With contactless dining and digital menus, this is a headache you can avoid. Digital menus allow you to be flexible by changing the design, items, and pictures of your menu on the fly. This is even better for holidays like Valentine’s Day or Christmas, where you might want to offer special deals or bundle packages. With digital menus, you can adapt your menu to whatever your customers want to eat or whatever you want to offer at no extra cost. For example, you can emphasize certain menu items to try to get increased sales from high-margin products.

If you want more on digital menus, read 6 tips for creating the ultimate contactless menu.

2. Reduce customer waiting time and improve order accuracy

One of the most important reasons for implementing any solution in your restaurant is to improve the experience for customers. Contactless dining does exactly that by simplifying the ordering and payment process so that customers can get in and out with as little friction as possible. Thanks to contactless dining, customers won’t have to wait for servers to bring them menus or checks and can focus more on enjoying their meal and the atmosphere.

What’s more, by digitizing the ordering process, ordering accuracy improves because customers take the ordering process into their own hands. No longer will chaotic, noisy environments or muffled voices behind face masks cause misunderstandings between customers and the kitchen. This leads to both happier customers and less stressed kitchen staff.

3. Increase the quality of service and staff productivity

Without contactless dining, your staff spends much of their time moving from table to table; handing out menus, taking orders, distributing bills, and taking payments to name a few.

By letting technology take care of standard tasks, your staff will be able to focus on what makes them and your restaurant extraordinary, i.e., the quality of service and care towards your customers. By giving staff fewer responsibilities, they can be more productive and make sure that customers’ needs are attended to.

4. Faster table turnover and more revenue

Remember when we talked about reducing customer wait time? Well, that has the dual effect of speeding up table turnover. With customers using contactless dining solutions for rapid ordering and payment, your restaurant will be able to serve more customers in less time, effectively improving your bottom line. 

Beyond this, contactless dining also improves your bottom line in another way. Customers order and reorder more when they order themselves. They enjoy the fact that they have more time to customize their orders, add extras, and think about what they want to eat. Without the pressure of a server, customers no longer feel rushed when making their orders specific and extravagant. This results in larger average checks and more profit for your business.

Speaking of profit, read Omnichannel ordering: Why you should take (back) control of your dining experience to see how you can create new revenue streams.

5. Shows your guests that you value their time and safety

This final benefit is less tangible, but important nonetheless. This past year has been shocking, to say the least, and people are still coming to terms with the realities imposed by COVID-19. Now more than ever, people value safety when eating out. After all, it has been reported that a majority of customers now rank safety above aspects such as affordability, taste, and even quality.

Beyond safety, customers also value establishments that share their concern for the health and safety of the community around them. By implementing contactless dining, you can show your customers that it is safe to dine at your establishment and that you care about making them feel at ease when frequenting your restaurant. Admittedly, this isn’t the only way to show your customers that you care. However, it is undoubtedly a great place to start.

Looking to try contactless dining in your restaurant? Click here to get started today.

6 tips for creating the ultimate contactless menu

The way you work and the way you serve your guests has changed drastically, and though we’re all looking forward to the day we don’t have to seat guests 6 feet apart, many aspects of the new dining experience are likely to outlast the pandemic. According to a recent study by McKinsey, guests now expect the safety and convenience of a digital experience with more than 75% of consumers using mobile and web for menus, ordering and payment. Use these six tips to create a menu that works for you and your guests!

1. Optimize for mobile

The vast majority of your guests will view your menu from their phones. Mobile viewing is often an afterthought when menus are designed as PDFs or web pages. This leads to a poor guest experience with guests having to zoom in and out or scroll endlessly to browse your menu. Start the guest experience off right with a menu solution that’s optimized for mobile viewing and allows your guests to browse intuitively. 

2. Include photos

No amount of descriptive text can grab someone’s attention like an appetizing photo. Make sure your digital menu includes images of your actual dishes. If you have an extensive menu, start with your best sellers and if you don’t have professional photos of your menu items already, check out our free guide to food photography for restauranteurs to get started taking your own photos. 

3. Allow for real-time updates

It takes time for your guests to discover your restaurant and browse the menu. The last thing they want, is to find out the items they decided to order are unavailable. Avoid this situation by choosing a menu solution that allows you to make real-time updates from a mobile device. This will keep your guests happy while also saving you time.

4. Include your branding

You spend plenty of time and money creating the perfect ambience and guest experience in your establishment. For takeout guests though, your menu is the only window into the experience your restaurant provides. Ensure that your menu captures the personality of your establishment by customizing it with your logo, fonts, and colours.

Speaking of your own branding, check out Takeout and delivery: Why you should offer your own (and how).

5. Use a durable access point

The common access point for digital menus in the restaurant is a printed QR code. When the pandemic started, this solution was a great quick fix, but with 73% of diners saying that their experience is improved by restaurant technology, it’s clear that contactless dining is here to stay. Your menu access point should meet the same standard you expect from everything else that goes on your table. 

Choose an access point that:

  • Has an attractive design
  • Is water-resistant 
  • Is tear-resistant
  • Abides by your region’s health and safety rules

6. Allow guests to order directly from the menu

A digital menu is only the first step in providing a contactless experience. When choosing a digital menu solution, it’s important to think about where the industry is going and how your situation is going to evolve. According to a dataessential study, over 80% of respondents said that a restaurant needs to offer contactless payment and ordering options for them to feel safe returning to dine-in. Choose a solution that’s more than a menu and create a seamless guest experience with dine-in and takeout mobile ordering