There’s no denying the infiltration of digital technology in the restaurant and hospitality industry. But while brands are launching new channels and adding some digital ordering into the mix, quite often it’s not a digital-first approach nor are they looking at their channels holistically to take into account the entire customer experience. This is why we want to introduce you to omnichannel ordering.
What is omnichannel ordering?
So what is it? Well, to actually determine what omnichannel ordering is, it’s important to look at what differentiates it from multichannel ordering. Quite often these terms are used interchangeably, but there is a distinct difference.
Multichannel ordering in essence refers to brands who utilise more than one channel in which customers can place orders. An omnichannel approach allows the same thing, but it also creates a connected experience across these channels to ensure consistency along the customer journey.
Basically, omnichannel ordering means you aren’t seeing or managing your channels in silos. They work together to create an overarching, enhanced customer experience, which can ultimately lead to an increase in orders, reducing the risk of drop off and creating more repeat custom.
Channels to consider in your omnichannel approach
There are various channels that can be considered when looking at implementing an omnichannel ordering approach. Some of which, of course, you may already have. The biggest consideration will be how you bring them all together and how you then optimise that customer experience.
Online ordering at its heart allows customers to place orders through your restaurant’s website. Managed well, it can be a lucrative revenue stream for your restaurant, encouraging loyal customers to purchase your food more often without having to dine in. By encouraging this way of ordering for at-home dining you get to avoid third-party aggregator fees, but on the flip side you may need to consider delivery options.
Almost everyone now owns a smartphone, so it’s unsurprising that food orders made through mobile devices are highly prevalent. Launching your own mobile app can not only make ordering easier for customers due to its convenience, but also presents the opportunity to offer integrated loyalty programs, communicate directly with your customers more both in-app and with push notifications, and lets you control the entire customer experience throughout the ordering process.
Order in-store & skip the queue (carryout)
Ordering in-store allows customers to place an order in-store and take it away. Skip the queue functionality also allows customers to order in-store through a QR code meaning no queuing. Both can be popular options, especially for smaller orders and when customers are constrained for time like at lunchtime. It also means the customer can avoid any delivery or service fees while simultaneously allowing your restaurant to side step any third party app fees too, so a win-win.
Kiosk ordering is becoming increasingly popular with QSR brands. It allows customers to place their own orders through an intuitive interface optimising the ordering process and removing any potential for human error. Additionally, it’s been found that kiosk ordering actually increases the average order value.
Table ordering has typically only ever been thought of in the more traditional sense where a staff member seats and serves customers. However, with more digital capabilities, table ordering now allows customers to order through their phones by scanning a QR code on the table. They can place their order whenever they’re ready and when they’re done they can pay the bill through their phone. This massively reduces customer wait times, can increase table turnover, and means customers have complete control over their orders.
Third parties and aggregator apps are a big player in the market, offering customers a plethora of choices all in the same app. They can help your restaurant reach a much wider audience, especially lesser known restaurants that aren’t likely to be searched for directly by customers. The downside of these apps is they can make it harder to own your brand experience, plus there’s the associated fees.
Social and other non-ordering channels
Whilst focussed on your actual ordering channels, within your omnichannel strategy you need to factor in the other owned channels where your brand is present. This can include social media, your website, email etc. These all play an important role in how you communicate with your customers and how they perceive your brand. Ensuring your messaging and experience are consistent and seamless throughout will also go a long way to delivering those connected experiences we mentioned earlier.
How omnichannel ordering can help grow your brand
Omnichannel approaches aren’t as easy as they sound. It’s not just about being present on each channel, but having a thought out strategy on which channels you use, how you use them and connect them together, and how overall, they all play their role in delivering upon your brand and customer experience.
If your omnichannel strategy is well thought out, firstly it can help you reach your customers wherever they are, on whichever device they use, meaning less chance of you missing out on orders, and more opportunity to widen your customer base. Secondly, it also helps with customer retention and brand advocacy – the better the experience across any and all channels, the more likely that customer is to order again and become a brand advocate.
One thing to note is that you need to be able to handle any increase in demand that comes from this approach. On a day-to-day level, for example, staff need to be able to seamlessly handle orders coming in from all channels. If not, orders could get lost, staff could become overwhelmed, and the strategy can start to backfire.
Of course, there is technology that can help bring it all together. The right solution can help you not only launch and manage all your channels, but also bring together all the orders that result and push them all into your POS. This ensures everything is managed through one centralised platform, human errors are diminished, staff stay in control, and it also makes inventory management and reporting easier.
Thinking about omnichannel ordering?
This is just a high-level look at omnichannel ordering. However, to discuss omnichannel strategies further including why you should consider it for your brand, then simply get in touch with our team.
Originally published October, 2020. Updated January, 2022.