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.

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 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.