Takeout and delivery: Why you should offer your own (and how)

When the pandemic first hit the restaurant industry, two services came in to save the day: takeout and delivery.

But now that in-person dining has returned, restaurants are shifting their focus to dine-in services. While it’s true that customers want to get back into restaurants, this doesn’t mean that restaurateurs should take their foot off the gas when it comes to takeout and delivery. Research from AAL shows that almost 50% of Canadians intend to order food online at least once a week after the pandemic. Plus, Statistics Canada reports that 50.7% of bars and restaurants in Canada will likely adopt contactless delivery or pickup options on a permanent basis.

In-House vs. Third-Party Applications

Most restaurants employ the help of third-party applications to manage their takeout and delivery. The reason for this is simple: they are a tremendous marketing tool for your restaurant. You would be hard-pressed to find a better way to attract new customers that is both simple and allows you to be almost completely hands-off. 

That being said, there are certain qualities of third-party apps that make it challenging for restaurant owners to maintain them long term. Commission fees, for example, can make a restaurant’s already slim margins even thinner and challenge their ability to turn a profit.

Offering Your Own Takeout and Delivery

So the question is this: now that you’ve attracted loyal customers using third-party apps, is there a way to provide takeout and delivery without drawbacks? Of course there is! Simply put, you can offer your own takeout and delivery. This seems daunting, but it can be made simple if you find the right solution. 

Needless to say, there are some caveats you need to consider. Having to manage delivery drivers and an ordering platform are two obvious ones. However, on the other hand, there are many reasons why it would benefit your restaurant and customers, such as:

1. Create customer loyalty for yourself

When customers order food from third-party apps, they aren’t building loyalty to the individual restaurants. Instead, they’re building loyalty to the app. Think of it this way: on a third-party app, customers will generally pick the restaurant that gives them the best value regardless of who it is. In other words, it’s much less personal.

By offering your own takeout and delivery service, customers build loyalty to your restaurant and your restaurant only. You can increase this effect even more by offering exclusive online deals or establishing an in-house loyalty program. 

What’s more, customers are happy to support local businesses. According to a DoorDash food trends report, 80 percent of Canadians plan to do more to support local businesses in 2021. Similarly, an AAL report showed that more Canadians have used an online service direct from the restaurant than delivery apps (see the graph below).

2. Save on fees for both you and your guests

As many restaurateurs now know, third-party delivery apps charge anywhere from 15-30% per order for their services, a fair rate for new customer acquisition. Of course, third-party apps provide great value to restaurants by exposing them to a huge audience of potential customers. However, once you have paid the higher fee to acquired a new customer, you can save on this cost by providing your own takeout and delivery. Why pay the acquisition cost more than once when you don’t have to.

While it’s true that these services require additional investments to start, they more than make up for it with the extra revenue incurred from commission-free takeout and delivery orders. Say goodbye to operating at break-even or at a net loss, as many restaurants have had to do during the COVID-19 pandemic (based on research by Restaurants Canada).

The savings also work for your customers as well. With no extra fees, customers have more room to spend on food and tips, making it a win-win situation.

3. Maintain better control of the quality of food and service

One thing to note about third-party apps is that they do a lot of the work for you, i.e., advertising, menu creation, etc… Yet, because of this, the restaurant owner has much less control.

With your own takeout and delivery service, you can control many important aspects of the dining experience.

Some examples include:

  • Prices (zero commissions and lower service fees allow you to offer more competitive prices)
  • Menu look and feel (being able to dictate your own colour scheme, layouts, and design)
  • Food quality (you control exactly how fast food gets to your customer, meaning better, hotter food for your guests)
  • Branding (being able to display your restaurant’s logo on the packaging and delivery vehicle)
  • Service quality (having a say over who delivers the food and how professional they are)

For more on this, take a look at Omnichannel ordering: Why you should take (back) control of your dining experience.

4. Give customers an easier experience

It’s no surprise that people love convenience. In fact, a Food in Canada article reports that convenience is the most popular reason why Canadians order food online. When you offer your own takeout and delivery, you give your customers an easier, simpler service

With your own takeout and delivery service, customers can order without having to navigate the endless offerings of third-party apps. This means fewer ordering mistakes (which are costly and diminish the overall customer experience), more menu exploration for guests, and a lower probability of being overwhelmed by the sheer number of restaurants.

Even better, you can integrate your digital menu and delivery service directly with your social media and website. This lets customers order from your establishment without having to jump between apps and sometimes even devices. For more on this topic, check out our 5 tips for optimizing your social media to increase online ordering.

Getting Started with Your Own Takeout and Delivery

If you’re thinking about taking control of your restaurant’s takeout and delivery service, App8 can help. With our customizable solutions, we give you the tools you need to offer a seamless, omnichannel dining experience that you control, without the high fees.

Get started today: https://app8solutions.com/online-takeout-ordering/.

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.

5 tips for optimizing your social media to increase online ordering

Let’s face it: 2020 was a year that shook up the restaurant industry like never before.

In the blink of an eye, your guests went from eating out to exclusively ordering in. In fact, the Agri-Food Analytics Lab at Dalhousie University released a report in November 2020 that revealed a 15.8% increase in the number of Canadians making food orders at least once a week, totalling around 4.2 million people.   So, as we set up takeout solution after takeout solution, we started to do some research. What we found was that online ordering was far from just a trend. Going forward, 49.4% of Canadians intend to keep ordering online at least once a week once the pandemic is over.  

So, the question becomes: what can you do to keep up? You’ve already implemented online ordering, but now it’s time to do more (using a tool that is completely free!). Two words: social media.

Using social media to your advantage will help you reach a massive market of gen-Z and millennial consumers. According to a report by Restaurants Canada, 79% of gen-Z consumers and 71% of millennials order food or beverages from a restaurant at least once a week. This tech-savvy group of consumers is one of the most important markets for the restaurant industry today and could be critical to your success and growth during and after the pandemic.  

All that being said, here are 5 tips to help you leverage social media to increase your online orders.

5 tips for optimizing your social media to increase online ordering:

1. Grab your guests’ attention with high-quality food images

Nothing triggers a food craving like seeing a mouthwatering photo on your social feed.

According to a recent study by Snappr, you can increase your orders on restaurant ordering apps by 35% by simply including high-quality photos of your food.

Make sure each and every picture you post on social media is eye-catching and clear; this means taking it in a well-lit area with a clean, uncluttered background. Take pictures with your food as the centrepiece and think about how you can grab someone’s attention while they are scrolling through social media. If you’re looking for an example, take a second to explore one of our sample digital menus.

For more tips on how to take photos that can create a 35% increase in orders, check out our free guide to food photography for restauranteurs!

2. Make ordering easy by setting up your Facebook call-to-action button

Imagine this: your guests are scrolling through Facebook when all of a sudden they stumble upon a mouthwatering photo of your food. They head to your profile to place an order but realize that they have to leave Facebook. They decide to finish browsing, quickly forgetting about their spontaneous hunger and all the hard work you put in to make your food look so appetizing.

Now imagine that, instead of having to leave Facebook, your guests can order or book straight from your Facebook page. All you need to do is change the big blue call-to-action button at the top of your page to better suit the action you want your visitors to take. It’s easy:  

  1. Navigate to your page and click the grey button under your cover photo
  2. Select “Edit Button” from the drop-down menu that appears
  3. Choose your desired call-to-action, such as “Start Order”

With this button, your visitors will be redirected to another tab where they can start their order right away – if you don’t have a digital menu yet, head to app8solutions.com/digital-menu/ to get started today. Or, check out our 6 tips for creating the ultimate contactless menu.

3. Earn your guests’ trust by responding to reviews on Facebook

Did you know that 90% of guests do research online before visiting a restaurant? That’s why it’s essential to enable Facebook reviews on your business page so that new customers feel confident about placing an order with you.

 To enable reviews on Facebook, follow a few simple steps:

  1. Navigate to your page and select “Settings” on the left-hand side
  2. Select “Templates and Tabs”
  3. Select the “Reviews” tab
  4. Flip the switch to enable visitors to leave reviews of your restaurant

To make the most of this function, you need to respond to your reviews as well. Tell your positive reviewers that you appreciate their time, and tell your negative reviewers that you’re considering their suggestions. Onlookers will see that you truly care about your customers, bringing them one step closer to ordering from your restaurant.

4. Serve your guests better by filling out your profiles completely

Whether you’re building a new profile from scratch or updating existing accounts, make sure your bio is complete and comprehensive. There’s nothing worse than having a visitor that’s ready to buy from your restaurant give up because they can’t find basic details! Put your important information front and centre so that guest feels confident placing an order.

Make sure your profiles include:

  • Hours of operation (and COVID restrictions)
  • Current offering (dine-in, takeout, delivery)
  • Link to your website (that goes directly to your order page)
  • Address (or addresses, if you have more than one)
  • Contact information (email, phone #, social media)
    • On Instagram, adding an email address or phone number to your bio generates a button that users can click on to call or email you. This makes it super easy for your guests!

Bonus: On Facebook, you can add other important information for your customers such as cuisine type and price ranges.

This tip is especially important if your restaurant offers its own takeout and delivery or supports omnichannel ordering.

5. Make it easy to place an order by linking your menu to your Instagram

Remember the customer that saw your food on Facebook but decided to finish browsing their feed instead of ordering? Well now they’re on Instagram and the same thing is happening!

Luckily, there’s also a way to let your customers order food straight from Instagram. The instructions to set up food orders on your Instagram business page are as follows (coming from the official Instagram website):

  1. Go to your Instagram profile
  2. Select “Edit Profile”
  3. Under “Public Business Information”, tap “Action Buttons”
  4. Under “Select a Button” choose “Order Food”
  5. Select a partner for your business’s food orders
  6. Add the relevant menu link
  7. After you’ve entered the website, tap “Done”

Your followers will now be able to order your food through the “Order Food” button on your Instagram profile. Don’t stop there though—you can also put this button in your stories! Remind customers of the great food you offer and make it even more tempting by making it just one click away. It’s simple:

  1. Start a story with a picture or graphic
  2. Go to your stickers by clicking on the third icon on the top right of your screen.
  3. Find the action sticker that says “Food Orders”
  4. Place it anywhere on your story and post. This sticker serves the same function as the “Order Food” button on your Instagram profile

Try out each of these tips and watch the online orders start rolling in!

If you’re looking to give online ordering a try, go to https://app8solutions.com/online-takeout-ordering/ to get started today.