The busy holiday season is in full swing for the food service industry. With the rise of online ordering, restaurants can expect to see an uptick in sales through online catering orders for office holiday parties and party platters for festive gatherings. Restaurants who offer special holiday menus and grocers who offer pre-order menu items should also anticipate a busy online holiday season.
As events fill the calendar, people look for easy and efficient ways to reduce the stress of the season – such as ordering catered meals or pre-purchasing certain menu items that are time-intensive to cook at home. Restaurants must find ways to meet heightened consumer demands without running into challenges along the way. This can be operationally complicated, especially when offering two menus simultaneously, as many restaurants do during the holiday season.
The key to success is to partner with knowledgeable and helpful vendors, and to ensure that operations are running smoothly before the holiday onslaught begins.
Here is what some restaurant CEOs have said:
“Traditional holiday meals are an extremely popular alternative to cooking at home. So popular in fact, that we utilize semi-trucks to deliver the sheer volume of holiday to-go orders. With the launch of a new online ordering system, we anticipated some complications, which is why we rolled out the new system in phases, with to-go ordering now in place and fully operational for the holiday season.”
“One of the key revenue-producing menu items during this busy season are our deli party platters and they are often ordered online. We depend on a fully-functional and efficient online ordering system to ensure that our customers are happy and well-served.”
So, while some restaurant chains are right on target with their online holiday strategy, others may not be quite as prepared. No matter where your operations currently stand, here are a few tips to make the 2017 online ordering holiday season run as smoothly as possible.
✔ Examine the past to predict the future. Look at data points, often provided by your online ordering or POS vendor, from last year’s sales to determine what menu items were popular, when they were ordered and what your sales volumes are. These numbers can help determine pricing, marketing tactics or the need for additional staffing.
✔ Ask for additional support from your vendor. Set aside a time to speak to your vendor about fine-tuning certain aspects of your online ordering system, remembering that now is not the time to implement substantial changes, but an appropriate time to ensure that third-party integrations and software can support the expected sales volumes. Consider setting cut-off times for holiday orders and build in extra time for meal preparation and delivery.
✔ Review what works and what doesn’t and plan accordingly. As many restaurants are quickly learning, online ordering systems that don’t function properly won’t help build a reputable brand or offer good ROI. So, if certain aspects of your online ordering system aren’t up to the task, you may be better served limiting advanced functionalities and keeping it simple. Once the holidays have passed, consider a new and innovative online strategy for 2018.
✔ Customer engagement is paramount. According to a 2017 HT Restaurant Technology Study, improving efficiency has been unseated by consumer engagement as a top strategic goal for the industry. Restaurants should allow online patrons to give feedback on their experience. This information will help to make the next holiday season merry and bright.
The holiday season is an opportune time to put a year’s worth of online ordering system planning and fine-tuning into action. Even without months of preparation, there is still time to ensure that your system is in order. For more online ordering information, visit www.ordertalk.com.