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DIGITAL disruption has hit the restaurant business in a big way – opening up great new revenue streams for owners who embrace the technology.

But it also means small restaurants can quickly find themselves left behind and losing custom if their cyber skills are lacking behind their culinary ones.

Restaurant owners need to understand how a perfect storm of technology has come together to change the industry rapidly – particularly in the area of take-out orders.

The number of meals being ordered from traditional eat-in restaurants but for enjoyment at home or even the office is rocketing – one survey noted meal orders by mobile device had jumped 30 per cent in just two years to 2018, and by the end of 2020 digital orders may well have tripled.

If your restaurant is not offering customers the opportunity to order from your menu online, you are missing out – and worse, sending customers to somewhere that does. Nearly half of all restaurant orders are now eaten outside the actual restaurant.

And in the highly competitive world of restaurants, customer loyalty is a highly prized commodity.

The good news is customers can be very brand loyal to favorite eateries, especially independently owned businesses – which gives owners a great platform to build an online offering upon.

So how is an already-busy restaurant owner supposed to squeeze in yet more time to stay on top of the changing world? After all, the restaurant business is notorious for needing long hours every week.

The first order of business is to stay on top of what is out there on the internet about your restaurant anyway, whether you have an amazing website or none. Customers are very quick to share their dining experiences on social media – both the good and the bad – and write reviews on all sorts of platforms such as Yelp. 

Make sure you have an active social media presence on Facebook and maybe a couple of other social media sites – reply to reviews, both good and bad to show you are engaged and offering customer service. And use these posts to direct people back to your website and online menu.

Next make sure your website is up and running, with your food featuring prominently. We eat with our eyes long before we actually taste anything – this is your shop window so get some good pictures of your fayre online to sell your dishes. It might be worth paying for some professional photographs.

Promote your website online but also – ironically – with good old-fashioned print media. Online does not eradicate the need for paper menus and fliers – the two work together well. 

Make sure your website address is easy to read and type – feature it on your receipts, chalkboards, phone messages, beer mats, table tents – anywhere and everywhere customers can see it.

And then the most important part – make sure your customers can actually order online from your site. 

It might be tempting to just throw a link into Door Dash, Grub Hub or Uber Eats and let them worry about it all for you – but why throw away a large chunk of your profit margin to those firms when you do not have to?

By all means use them as well – any customer you get via their sites is probably one you would not get on your own anyway – but by running your own ordering system you get to keep all the profit from your orders.

Plus you can harvest the data you gather for all sorts of important marketing – email addresses for customer newsletters and special offers, sales data for analyzing trends and more. Imagine sending out a digital coupon on your customers’ birthdays to drive sales.

There are all sorts of digital tools and apps that can be integrated seamlessly with your website and point of sale systems to take full advantage of this rapidly growing sector within the restaurant market.

Interested in taking your restaurant’s online capabilities to the next level? Visit BizSwoop Technology today at www.bizswoop.com to discover how we can customize our technology tools and website plugins to boost your online presence into an important income generator.