Innovative Technology Vastly Improves Restaurant Service to On-The-Go Customers
Online ordering is evolving so rapidly that there will probably be new developments by the time you read this. That being said, it’s critical to stay “ahead of the curve” on “what’s new.”
Below are some recent innovations impacting the online ordering ecosystem for restaurants. Some help streamline the ordering process for customers, some are truly disrupters operationally for restaurants, but all represent the impact that online ordering is having on the restaurant industry.
Any innovation needs to be viewed through the lens of how it will impact operations in the restaurant. In the past, many restaurants would receive their online orders via email or fax. Those days are mostly over, thankfully. Reputable online ordering vendors will usually encourage integration with the restaurant’s POS and have open APIs that facilitate this integration. Even POS vendors are offering their own online ordering solutions. However, this may not always be the best fit due to system limitations. Restaurants should consider all of their options before making this decision.
Online ordering technology can also help with speed of service. Many operators, like Jimmy John’s, who promises “freaky fast” service, allow their customers to pick up online orders via drive-thru. Others, such as Chick-fil-a, use this technology to speed up the drive-thru by using tablets to take orders while guests are still waiting in line.
Perhaps the biggest disrupter for restaurant operations has been the escalation of third party delivery. Restaurants who utilize platforms like Grubhub and Doordash often find themselves operationally challenged. As most of these orders are received through dedicated tablets, staff must monitor these orders and manually enter them into the POS. There is ongoing development seeking to solve this problem. Some companies are aggregating integration partnerships with multiple POS vendors, one-by-one. Others are looking at inventive ways to streamline the process even further by using artificial intelligence.
Lastly, another operational dilemma for restaurants using online ordering is menu management. However, invention around integrations between third party delivery companies and most POS systems are still in their infancy.
New Ways to Order
Convenience, convenience, convenience. Customer demand for ordering food digitally is extremely high. Restaurants realize that the easier it is to order, the more satisfied the customer will be and the more often they will order. Many online ordering sites provide sign-on options through social media such as Facebook and Google. Today, you can also order food with your voice using Amazon’s Alexa from brands such as Jet’s Pizza. Crazy at is sounds, you can even order your favorite pizza from Domino’s simply by texting an emoji. Facebook also recently announced new “order food” functionality, allowing for convenient food ordering and checkout right from Facebook’s main navigation page.
Believe it or not, ordering food online far outdates smartphones. However, the invention and proliferation of smartphones has led to incredible invention in online (now mobile) ordering. Most online ordering companies now build sites in a responsive design which automatically adapts to the screen size and functionality of your smartphone for easy ordering on-the-go. Communication is also more sophisticated. Restaurants can now notify customers of their order status via automated SMS or texts. Smartphones can be used to notify a restaurant when a customer is close to arriving at the restaurant to pick up an order. Conversely, smartphones can also be used to locate delivery drivers and allow customers to track their food. Even paying is easier. Mobile payments are gaining traction in the restaurant industry with greater customer use of mobile wallet options such as Apple Pay, Android Pay, and Google Payment when ordering food online.
With an increased volume of digital ordering comes a wealth of data around customer’s spend, preferences and ordering behaviors. Restaurants can now use this data to expand their analytics and even create algorithms that can predict order volume and menu item inventory needs.
The demand for a positive and efficient food ordering experience continues to grow rapidly. The good news is that restaurants have many innovative solutions to explore and adopt as they respond to the demand for change. The key is to become educated on the variety of modern technologies currently being offered.
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