Recent advances in technology have completely changed how the restaurant industry does business. The rise of online ordering -- first through a website and more recently through mobile apps -- has quickly led to a revolution in how customers connect with and order from a particular establishment.
Technology moves so fast that as soon as one platform becomes well-established, there are already three more up-and-coming platforms to adopt. Not adapting to these changes can cause your business to become stagnant and lose customers. With that in mind, let’s take a look at some predictions for what’s going to be hot in online ordering systems over the next few years.
Using advertisements targeted to specific customers isn’t a new thing, but it’s certainly something you can expect to become an even bigger player in the next few years. As algorithms become more fine-tuned and exact, a quick search and click history will make it even more possible to zero in on customers’ specific preferences. Instead of wasting advertising dollars trying to reach a large segment of the population, specific targeting lets you spend money focusing on customers who are actively searching for your type of restaurant.
Another advertising model that results in fewer wasted ad dollars and more specific targeting is the PPC (pay-per-click) model. PPC works on the premise that, instead of paying for advertising up front that may or may not be effective, it makes more sense to pay for advertisements that have already worked. Advertisement space is procured on a website that potential customers might visit. However, if nothing happens and no ads are clicked, no money gets sent out. After all, why pay websites that aren’t working for you?
When an ad does gets clicked and the customer is brought to your restaurant’s landing page or website, the host site gets a little kickback. The more clickthroughs from that website, the more money they earn. This creates a mutually beneficial relationship where the host site plays an active role in displaying your ad, and where you only have to continue to do business with the sites that result in more orders.
Frequently, customers visit a website, begin the process of placing an order, and then abandon it at some point. For many sites, that’s the end of the story. However, in the coming years look for an upswing in the amount of technology available to keep track of these customers, even if they didn’t enter any contact information. This doesn’t mean you want to harass them, but sending them a gentle nudge or reminder now and then might make a difference and result in a sale down the road.
Third-Party Delivery Services
One of the more exciting innovations to come about in the past few years are third-party delivery services. These companies give every restaurant a delivery option by contracting with services (such as UberEats). When an order is placed for delivery, notifications are sent to the restaurant to make the food, as well as to the delivery service, to pick up and deliver the food. The customer pays a little more for this service, and gladly so, while more and more restaurants become available to customers who would rather just stay at home.
Originally tested in a handful of markets, these services are now making their way to every corner of the country.
A More Refined Use of Data
Another piece of technology that isn’t new, but is constantly being improved, is the use of data. Customer information is key -- and when that information is used to target customers with sales and promotions, online orders can’t help but increase. This also makes customers happier as they are given a more customer-centric experience that’s tailored to their specific needs and wants. It’s like having a personal restaurant, built just for each customer.
Greater Competition with Social Media
While this all spells more success for online ordering, it’s also important to realize that others are trying to break into this field. Maybe the newest innovation to know about -- and one that could really change the game -- is that now you don’t even have to own a physical restaurant to compete in the online restaurant sales market. Social media companies like Facebook have recently started to roll out food-ordering options to their customers, so users can order meals and have them delivered without ever even visiting a restaurant’s website or using their mobile app. While having customers order your food that quickly and effortlessly could be a good thing, it could also spell trouble for restaurants that aren’t included in the social media’s offerings. Because of the future implications, this is definitely one development that everyone should keep an eye on.
So, while much of what’s new in online ordering isn’t new technology, development and innovation has helped to deliver a much more refined and personal use of the technology. These breakthroughs enhance the customer experience, and new services have made the process of finding, ordering and getting food quicker, easier and more convenient for all involved. As online ordering increases even further, you can be sure that more innovation will serve to drive this new and exciting facet of the restaurant industry to new and greater heights.