Nothing about 2020 was typical. Among toilet paper shortages, civil unrest, and murder hornets, there was of course a global pandemic that required families to stay home and quarantine. As a result, one of the most basic needs of a human - the ability to get food - was transformed overnight.
In the blink of an eye restaurants had to examine their digital strategy, customer experience, and operations to pivot immediately to an online-first business model. The online ordering platform became the number one revenue driver whether restaurants were ready or not.
This is our final piece in a 3-part series in the lessons we learned during the pandemic. Part one covered why dedicated online ordering solutions are worth the investment and the benefits of a first-party online ordering platform over third-party solutions. Part two highlighted why not all ordering solutions are equal and the importance of guest trust and a consistent customer journey.
While the pandemic will soon be in our rearview mirrors, here are two final things we learned during the pandemic and strategies to drive restaurants forward into 2022.
Don’t go for a generic online ordering interface — integrate your brand.
One of the worst parts about partnering with third-party services is that much of a restaurant’s individuality takes a backseat to the third-party’s own branding. You might be able to show a logo or a few photos, but by and large, the experience for the customer is a third-party experience, not an authentic experience with your restaurant. This is not ideal for a few key reasons:
New customers are not as likely to become loyal to specific restaurants when they are directed to non-branded pages to place an order
When the third-party makes a mistake (offering a product that’s out of stock, for example), the customer will hold it against the restaurant
Generic interfaces feel less trustworthy — guests may not feel confident the order will make it to the restaurant or may not want to input payment information on a non-branded page
Most off-the-shelf solutions don’t offer control over what the user interface (UI) looks like. Seek a solution that allows for brand integration so that customers aren’t in for a jarring experience when they leave a website and enter an online ordering interface. Ideally, this should be a seamless shift, one where customers aren’t even aware they are being directed to a third-party.
It’s time to take the long view.
Finally, we can take a collective breath and evaluate what worked and what didn’t during the pandemic. For many restaurants, the goal has been to simply make it out the other side by any means necessary — not always an easy task.
In the long run, however, the quick decisions that helped keep businesses afloat in the short term may not be ideal for longer-term growth. As you evaluate your pandemic-era offerings, consider these questions:
What did it actually cost to offer online ordering?
Could your solution have been more efficient?
Did your solution offer a quality, trustworthy guest experience?
Did you have a high percentage of cart abandonments?
Did customers seem to experience common pain points when making online orders?
If you used third-party delivery partners, how were those experiences? Was it worth the financial hit?
Was the staff frustrated by your online ordering approach?
The good news is that the pandemic has given restaurants highly valuable insight into the appetite for online ordering. Customer interest is there — restaurants that offer the best online ordering experiences will win.
Don’t settle for online ordering platforms that don’t feel like a natural extension of your business. An online ordering platform is really a revenue generating platform and should create a seamless, end-to-end, customer-facing user experience that isn’t clunky or jarring.
It’s time to offer a better online ordering experience. Onosys can help.
Our team will get to know you and your menu, building a dynamic, user-friendly solution your customers and staff will love. Not only do we welcome complex menus, we help our clients present them in the best ways.
Forget about third-party partners that aren’t interested in true partnerships. Onosys can build a solution that integrates with your existing POS and make it feel like an extension of your website. Best of all, when you need support, we’re a phone call away.