Restaurant technology is providing significant opportunities in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, especially when it comes to online ordering. And outlets that know how to integrate the very latest in-house online ordering options with their existing restaurant point of sale systems are already enjoying a significant commercial advantage.
Online ordering was increasing in popularity even before coronavirus hit, with one industry study finding that customers spent some 23% more on average when ordering online as opposed to in person.
But there’s no doubt that the pandemic has accelerated the trend. For obvious reasons, many customers remain reluctant to venture out to restaurants and bars, even in areas where the authorities have allowed them to do so.
So for all businesses in the hospitality sector, the ability to offer online ordering, curbside pick-up and home delivery has become not just a matter of enhanced profitability but of survival.
That said, not all online ordering options are the same, and there are significant benefits for restaurants that choose to use an in-house rather than a third-party system.
Use your own in-house restaurant POS platform and you’ll have the ability to make immediate changes to your food and beverage listings – including pricing, discounts and special offers. Customers will be viewing your own website when ordering, so that you can promote and develop your brand to them in exactly the way you want to. And you will also have the opportunity to gather email addresses and build your loyalty program.
While not without their advantages in promoting your business to new customers, the principal disadvantage of third party apps such as UberEats or Grubhub is that they take a substantial commission (20 -30%) on each transaction, which can really put a dent in already slender profit margins.
Most in-house apps, by contrast, are available for a relatively small set-up and/or monthly fee; after which all sales proceeds and profits are yours.
And to turn the promotional benefits of third-party apps to your advantage, you can simply encourage new customers to order through your in-house app next time by including a discount offer on their printed receipt.
In the world that follows COVID-19, in which every cent of profit and turnover is likely to be crucial to survival, one key advantage of in-house online ordering is the opportunity it allows to build relationships with customers.
The restaurant business is going to be more competitive than ever in the era of the “new normal”, and the offer of a highly individual service will be key to customer retention and therefore profitability.
So the great benefit of in-house ordering apps is the opportunity they offer for you to collect and record data about customers’ habits, and to tailor your menus accordingly. Knowing who your regular and high spending customers are when they want to use your restaurant, and their exact food and drink preferences will also help enormously with your marketing and branding and the development of your loyalty program.
The bottom line?
Integrate a quality in-house online ordering app with your restaurant POS system and you will be in a great place to profit from rapidly changing customer expectations.