The restaurant dining world is quickly evolving.  As the millennial generation is growing up, so is their discretionary spending.  While the US average consumer spending has declined since 2008, Millennials’ spending climbed to 5% over the US national average with the largest increase allocated to leisure activities.

The Millennial generation values speed, convenience, and fun.  Many purchasing decisions are based on these ideas.  Adults today want to spend less time on tasks and more time at leisure.  For this reason, the National Restaurant Association predicts 70% of restaurant traffic will be off-premise by 2020.  Off-premise dining includes take-out, delivery, food trucks, and curb-side to go.  In order to compete, your restaurant needs to adopt some or all of these concepts.  Online ordering is a low-cost, high-benefit way to check many of these boxes while broadening your reach.

Look to online reservations as an example.  In 1999, OpenTable pioneered online dining reservations.  Within 3 years, the US went from 0 to 1 million online reservations by 2002.  10 years after launch, OpenTable had implemented online reservations in a third of all reservation-taking restaurants in the US and had booked 120 million online reservations.  Of course, the trend didn’t stop there.  Next came mobile device reservations.

This trend is hard to ignore.  Here’s how to use Online Ordering to your advantage:

 

Expand your online presence.

Implementing online ordering adds a full menu to your website and increases your Search Engine Optimization (SEO) scoring.  This boost allows more guests to find you in searches even when they’re not looking to order online.

 

Grow your customer base and revenue.

Adding new channels to acquire customers is sure to add incremental business to your top line.  Customers who may have never dined in your restaurant may decide to place an online order.  Similarly, guests whose schedule doesn’t allow them to dine at a full service restaurant before closing now have the option of picking something up or having it delivered so they can enjoy your dishes at home.

Your guests can even order online for take-out or delivery when your restaurant is full.

 

Minimize phone headaches.

Since guests manage their own experience online, you are not tying up valuable staff on the phone to take online orders.  You are not keeping guests waiting at the table and you are not keeping customers waiting on hold.

Guests can order exactly what they want from your menu which minimizes mistakes and confusion like forgetting to collect a name or ask about sides or temperatures.  Food waste is reduced and customer experience is improved.

 

Build your marketing and loyalty lists.

Online ordering typically requires your customer to create an account with their name, email address, and phone number.  Postal addresses are often required for credit card payments as well.  Collecting this valuable data gives you an entirely new guest database to promote your restaurant.  Purchasing a similar list could cost thousands of dollars and organically acquiring the same number of guests through business cards and comment forms could take years.

Don’t forget the value of having the customer’s order history at your fingertips as well.  See my post on investing in customer retention for more on this concept.

 

Administrative convenience.

As if the revenue and marketing benefits weren’t enough, the restaurant operating conveniences help to sweeten the deal.  Some online ordering platforms like CAKE Connect allow you to manage your menus for your POS, website, online ordering, and even printed dining room menus all from one tool.  Rather than having to enter data across multiple systems, one update pushes everywhere your menu is published.

Over the next several years, online ordering is certain to grow into a pervasive phenomenon.  The trend is proven.  Once just a tool for pizza joints and Chinese delivery, online ordering now has a permanent seat at the table in steakhouses, Italian restaurants, BBQ, and more.  Will your restaurant be next?

Do you know other benefits of online ordering?  Be sure and comment below.  Otherwise, like and share if you agree.

 

About the Author: Wesley B Wilson has spent well over a decade implementing systems and technology strategy in retail and hospitality environments. While consistently looking for new, innovative ways to delight guests through technology, he’s not afraid to embrace the tried-and-true. Wesley is the VP of Global Operations & Service at CAKE, a Sysco Company (NYSE: SYY).