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

Before we tell you more about omnichannel ordering, it’s worth noting how dining has changed. 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. In other words, restaurants have less to worry about, but at a cost.

Delivery and takeout solutions and third-party apps were vital for restaurants’ survival during the height of 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 term “omnichannel” is most commonly used 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” allows customers to enjoy a consistent ordering experience (online, in-restaurant, from their mobile devices, from apps, etc.) no matter how and from where they are ordering (takeout, delivery, dine-in, etc.). Omnichannel ordering creates a seamless, customer-centric experience that does not impact the guest experience no matter where they are ordering 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 centre 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 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 increases 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.

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

Takeout and delivery have existed in the restaurant industry for a long time. However, these options took on a new life when the COVID-19 pandemic began. Suddenly, takeout and delivery weren’t just convenient ways for people to access their favourite food spots – these tools had become the only bridge between restaurants and their customers.

In-person dining has returned, but restaurants who introduced takeout and delivery options during the pandemic have found that these tools are worth keeping permanently. In 2020, the Agri-Food Analytics Lab revealed that almost 50% of Canadians intended to order food online at least once a week upon the return of in-person dining. In early 2021, Statistics Canada reported that 50.7% of bars and restaurants in Canada will likely adopt contactless delivery or pickup options on a permanent basis.

Now, takeout and delivery aren’t merely an emergency approach to keeping restaurants afloat; they’re something that can be perfected to serve customers to the best ability. That’s why decision makers in the restaurant industry should choose a digital dining service that actually works for them. For example, there are in-house options and third-party options. 

In-House vs. Third-Party Applications

There’s no way you haven’t seen third-party delivery and takeout applications. These are the big names known for dominating digital stores with delivery apps in recent years – especially in times like the pandemic. As the term “third-party” suggests, these tools are operated by other companies, allowing you to take a hands-off approach. You can easily bring them into your foodservice space to reach a new batch of customers. These services do, however, come with some caveats – notably, high commission fees and an inability to customize the tools.

For those reasons, you may prefer to do things differently. That’s where in-house takeout and delivery tools come in. In-house tools allow you to run things yourself – usually straight from your own POS. Learn below why in-house tools might be the right option for your restaurant.

Offering Your Own Takeout and Delivery

You may be interested in trying in-house takeout and delivery. Perhaps you’ve already attracted loyal customers using third-party apps, or maybe you’ve never tried digital tools at all. Either way, introducing in-house takeout and delivery tools can be both exciting and daunting. How can you tell if you’re really ready to take a hands-on approach to digital dining?

The trick is to find the right solution. If you’re looking for a service to support your in-house digital dining experience, make sure you look for the following benefits.

1. Create customer loyalty for yourself – not for other companies

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 are given plenty of options, and they’ll typically pick the restaurant that gives them the best value regardless of who it is. In other words, it’s like being in a giant digital food court; it’s a much less personal experience.

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. Keep in mind that 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

How do third-party takeout and delivery apps make their money? Many restaurateurs know the answer: third-party delivery apps charge restaurants anywhere from 15-30% per order for their services. In some ways, this is 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. 

Once your restaurant has paid these fees to acquire new customers, you might want to make the switch to save money and provide 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

Third-party apps are appealing because they do a lot of the work for you. For example, they take care of advertising, menu creation, and much more. 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 aspect of takeout and delivery tools among Canadians who 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/.

6 tips for creating the ultimate contactless menu

The way you serve your guests has changed drastically over the last few years. You may not have to separate your guests’ tables with six feet of space, but there’s still plenty of value in retaining some of the features brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. Contactless menus (also called digital menus) are popular among establishments that want to give guests a transparent and safe experience.

According to a study by McKinsey, guests now expect the safety and convenience of a digital experience – more than 75% of consumers use mobile devices and the web to view menus, order and pay. 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. You’ll want to give them access to a contactless menu that looks good and makes sense. Unfortunately, some digital menus are designed as PDFs and desktop-friendly web pages, but they don’t translate well to mobile screens. This leads to a poor experience for guests, who’ll have 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 contactless 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 way, your guests will have access to an accurate menu, and they’ll have a smoother experience as a result.

4. Include your branding

You spend plenty of time and money creating the perfect ambience and guest experience in your establishment. However, for guests who order for pickup or delivery, 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 a physical 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 contactless 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, during the early stages of the pandemic, a restaurant would need to offer contactless payment and ordering options for them to feel safe returning to dining in. Now that many restaurants have returned to normal – or some new version of normal – it’s worthwhile to continue offering contactless options.

Choose a solution that’s more than a menu and create a seamless guest experience with dine-in and takeout mobile ordering