With the introduction of social distancing, fewer people are going to restaurants for dine-in — whether by choice or by mandate. Consumers had already embraced restaurant mobile ordering before officials told them to stay home. Fast Casual reports that more than half of restaurant customers had used mobile devices to order food, and had anticipated sales from mobile ordering would grow to $38 billion this year in the QSR segment alone. Now, with some people unable to get out to a grocery store or for isolated people who can’t prepare meals on their own, restaurant mobile ordering is a lifeline.
Forward-thinking restaurants will address the immediate need to make it easy to order food that’s ready for pickup or delivery, but they’ll also create mobile ordering experiences that will develop customer relationships and loyalty that continue long after this crisis lasts.
6 Ingredients for Ideal Restaurant Mobile Ordering Experiences
Mobile ordering applications that optimize processes, both for restaurant owners and their customers, have these six elements in common:
1Ease of Use
One of the things that draw people to restaurant mobile ordering is that it’s easier and more convenient than trying to place an order by phone or making an order at the restaurant and waiting. So, the last thing you want to do is make mobile ordering difficult. If the restaurant takes orders through its website, make sure it’s responsive to screen size, and if using an app, make sure it’s easy to navigate. People need to be able to see and find what they’re looking for. Make sure they can easily read the menu, find modifiers, can easily change their minds, and make payments.
2Remove the Guess Work
A mobile ordering application may provide the restaurant’s staff and kitchen with the information you need to fill the order, but does it also provide customers with the information they need? Make sure you look at mobile ordering from the customer’s point of view and provide a confirmation, order total, and time the order will be ready. Don’t leave the customer guessing whether the order has been received and whether their order will be ready when they arrive.
This may seem counterintuitive to a customer-pleasing restaurant mobile ordering experience, but upselling isn’t purely self-serving. It’s a chance to ensure the order is optimized and includes everything the customer needs for a good dining experience. Did the customer forget the side or a beverage, or did they miss a new popular dessert you’re offering? Mobile ordering applications with automatic upselling can help ensure the highest level of customer satisfaction.
Restaurant mobile ordering integrated with loyalty rewards is a winning combo. Restaurants can enhance mobile ordering experiences by giving customers a one-click way to join their loyalty program and enable them to earn rewards with each purchase. Integration also makes it easy for customers to redeem their rewards. Engaging mobile ordering customers through a loyalty rewards program is also a good strategy for building repeat business.
5Make It Fun
Gamifying the mobile ordering process can raise spirits and make customers look forward to engaging with the restaurant’s app again. Some ideas are a “spin to win” game that customers play for prizes or discounts, progressive games where customers advance to levels based on visits or spend, or even a game that they can play while they wait for confirmation that their orders are ready. Gamification can also be a prime opportunity to communicate the restaurant’s brand message.
Payment must be seamlessly integrated with a restaurant’s mobile ordering system. The customer should be able to pay when they place their orders, and tokenized payment data can enable loyalty customers to pay with stored data, so they don’t have to repeatedly key it in. The app should also be integrated with promotion engines so coupons can be applied and the loyalty program so customers can redeem rewards.
The Right Technology Makes It All Possible
Restaurant online ordering must be the digital equivalent of the excellent service customers receive when they come to dine in at a restaurant. Tech solutions must have the right feature set to enable restaurants to create those experiences, but also be easy to manage, secure, and reliable. This isn’t a time to cut corners; the ROI will be there.
It’s also vital to train employees to use the technology correctly as a part of their workflows, now, as restaurant mobile ordering booms, and later, when the relationships the restaurant builds now keeps customers coming back.