COVID lockdowns saw record signups to online order platforms, as more and more foodservice businesses focused their attention upon the takeaway and delivery channels. What is next in this space?
THE PAST FEW MONTHS have seen record signups to online order platforms, as more and more foodservice businesses have focused their attention upon the takeaway and delivery channels. The upsurge in online order functionality has also been driven by demand for contactless payment methods and the need for customers and operators alike to access dining reservations, meal orders and payment options via mobile apps even when dining in.
But this new focus on online platforms and apps has also highlighted a downside for foodservice operators who sign up with the major online order and delivery platforms – the fact that they, not you, gather and control the data relating to customer orders. Because they control the order platform, they know who is ordering your food – how much and how often. They can then use this data for marketing purposes.
The industry body Restaurant & Catering Australia has been outspoken on this subject, urging foodservice businesses to consider the benefits of using new generation online order platforms and apps which, instead of capturing orders under their own brand, are designed to seamlessly integrate with your point of sale system/website and thereby enable you to capture and ‘own’ the customer data they gather on your behalf.
The arrival of new, local players like Bopple, Hungry Hungry and Order Up! is ushering in a revolution in online ordering. Not only does their commission structure enable you to keep more profit from your revenue, each order they receive from your customers can be added to your marketing database.
Here’s how it works: as a condition of using the order platform, customers agree to their captured data being used by you to send them information and offers. Once you have their mobile numbers and/or email addresses, you can set about creating your own marketing campaigns to give your business a competitive edge.
Using your customer database, you can:
· publicise specials, meal deals and new offers via email/SMS
· send text messages with discount codes to encourage more orders during slow periods
· utilise PUSH notifications (pop up messages which appear on a smartphone screen) when customers have the order app installed on their phone
· take advantage of ‘set and forget’ automation to communicate with customers at specified times – for example, you can send a discount code to a customer who hasn’t ordered for the past month, incentivizing them to provide you with repeat business. You could also send welcome messages to customers when they place their first order – and thank you messages on the anniversary of when they became a customer!
The new generation online order apps also make it easy to create and run customer loyalty programs, which can be used both when ordering remotely via the app as well as in-person at your venue.
You can award points to customers according to menu items ordered which are redeemable for discounts or other menu items in later orders, or enable customers to accumulate points over time which can be redeemed for a prize such as a retailer gift card.
Another way captured customer data can help your competitive edge is by making it easier for you to identify the biggest sellers on the menu, the most in-demand times for orders, and which items aren’t moving. Reports generated by the online order app provide all these statistics, enabling you to adjust your menu and staffing levels accordingly so as to operate at maximum efficiency.
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