For restaurants, the biggest growth channel right now is online ordering. According to last year’s viral report by investment bank UBS, food delivery sales which was $35 Billion worldwide could rise at an annual average of more than 20% to $365 billion by 2030.

A lot of this rise is attributed to the millennial generation, which the report stated could also be killing the personal kitchen. Another report by OrderTalk backs this claim, stating that, in the US, Millennials on average used online ordering 29% more than those above 45 years of age.

Food delivery sales, which was $35 Billion worldwide could rise at an annual average of more than 20% to $365 billion by 2030

If your restaurant isn’t available for online ordering, you’re losing out on a big chunk of sales today and it’s only going to get bigger. This is especially true for QSRs and Fast Casual restaurants as according to Datassential, 39% of all online orders were for Quick Service Restaurants.

Online ordering has been proven to increase spends as well. According to Deloitte, average online spends were upto 26% more for QSRs and 13% more for fast casual and casual restaurants.

So we’ve established that online ordering is essential, but how should restaurants do it, and what are consumers looking for?

Easy ordering experience

When it comes to online ordering, consumers are looking for easy experiences. First, they want the ability to seamlessly order from multiple channels and devices. Restaurants today are providing consumers the ability to order from their website, mobile apps, social media through tweets and DMs, through online chatbots, wearables and even from their cars.

Secondly, the ordering experience needs to be easy. Menu items need to be properly detailed as upto 20% of users drop off if they have questions about the menu that weren’t answered by the website/app. The user experience must be intuitive without involving too many steps. Having the option of one-click re-ordering also makes a huge difference for returning customers.

Customisation and personalisation

Customisation of menu items has become a growing want for consumers. Upto 60% consumers wanted to customise their orders, and 21% consumers had abandoned their order because of lack of customisation options. It’s a must to have at least, as many customisation options on an online ordering platform as one would in a physical restaurant.

Personalisation of experience is another way through which restaurants can increase sales drastically. Storefront personalisation gives restaurants the ability to populate menu items an individual consumer is more likely to buy. Personalised recommendations and suggestive selling can also help convert more, upsell consumers and increase sales of sides. This also helps consumers feel like the business knows them, which is something millennial consumers value, making them more likely to return. According to Deloitte, upto 70% of consumers seek this.

Multiple delivery options

Once a consumer has chosen what they want to buy, the restaurant ordering platform must also allow for multiple delivery options. The ability to get food delivered to their home or office, enable curbside pickup, or order ahead to eat at the restaurant can make a huge difference in consumer experience.

Ordering ahead has become a trend that is extremely sought after today as more and more consumers are looking for instant gratification. Instead of having to wait in a queue, having food waiting fresh for them to eat or takeaway can be magical. This can be possible with location services, that can track when a consumer is about to reach the outlet and carefully optimise food production.

Mobile payments

Another benefit of Online Ordering is mobile payments. Gone are the days when you had to run around the house looking for change in order to pay the pizza delivery guy. Today, having the option of multiple payment options such as cash, cards and the most popular mobile wallets is a must have for online consumers who seek the convenience of mobile payments.

Faster delivery

The experience of placing an order is just one part. The experience after placing the order is what actually makes or breaks the entire experience. Consumers are less likely to order again if they had to wait for a long time before their order was delivered. As consumers want, what they want, when they want it, enabling instantaneous deliveries are a must for any restaurant. One should also set expectations right when it comes to their promise of how long it would take to deliver.

Live order tracking and driver tracking can elevate ordering experience on the consumer end while making it easier for the restaurant to deliver quickly. Restaurants must utilise geo-location and trade-zone optimisation to deliver food as fresh and fast as possible.

Going forward, robots and drones may take over humans when it comes to the actual delivery, requiring minimal human intervention in the process. Many have already started pilots and trials to make this possible, however when this would be commonplace is subject to regulations.

Post delivery engagement

40% consumers would like to hear from a restaurant more than once a month

The experience doesn’t end once the food has been delivered. Apart from gathering feedback on the food and the delivery experience, consistent engagement post delivery is key to get consumers to order again.

Consumers seek communication from restaurants they like. According to Deloitte, 40% consumers would like to hear from a restaurant more than once a month, especially if it’s about special discounts and offers which piqued the interest of 80% of these consumers whereas 34% consumers also looked for personalised communication.

Personalising engagement is the most effective at getting consumers to order again. Targeting them with the right menu items and offers at the right time, through the right channel using previous purchase data could further enhance the user experience. Having a restuarant loyalty program in place with the right rewards could also drive consumers to order again and again.

The right online ordering platform

For any restaurant today, online ordering is hard to ignore. While being available on food aggregators or third-party delivery players can be a good option for restaurants to go online quickly, having your own online ordering platform can help increase unit margins since you don’t have to pay high commissions associated with third party aggregator orders. They also gain from better integration and smoother operations when they have their own ordering platform. This means, restaurants also have more control over their end-user experience and better data on their consumers which can only help them in the long term as well.

Kapil Raj
Kapil Raj has been writing about consumer behaviour, consumer businesses and technology in the fintech and IT space.
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