It may be a new year, but digital ordering will continue to be crucial for restaurants

Published February 19, 2021

At the onset of the pandemic, global lockdowns ushered in a wave of consumers placing digital orders and turning to off-premise dining in unprecedented volumes. Even as restrictions relaxed and as a vaccine is becoming available, many consumers continue to prefer making off-premise, digital orders from restaurants—and that’s likely to continue after the pandemic.

Even modest predictions for online ordering foresee digital sales remaining elevated after the pandemic—and digital ordering will need to be effortless and user-friendly to guarantee a great customer experience.

Here are some consumer expectations for online ordering that will likely play a role in giving restaurant operators a competitive edge in 2021.

Making curbside, take-out and delivery seamless


According to Technomic’s October 2020 Ordering Online for Delivery report, consumers placed 9% of restaurant orders by phone or online in Q1 2020. By the second quarter of 2020, that number had reached a whopping 33%, with mobile and online orders for carryout alone increasing by 286%.

What’s more, according to Technomic’s July 2020 Delivery & Takeout report, many consumers say they intend to maintain or increase their off-premise services even as dine-in service becomes more widely available—with 42% of consumers saying they’ll likely use online ordering via mobile device.  

While safety plays a part, convenience is a key factor driving online orders for off-premise dining: Twenty percent of consumers say they’re increasing their digital orders because there are more options and that increases convenience.

Technologies that support restaurants’ digital transformation strategies should ensure that each customer’s experience—in every channel—is as seamless as possible. That will help encourage customers to keep coming back.

So it can be helpful to choose a technology partner that can simplify restaurant operations from end to end. That includes enabling the ultimate brand consistency, removing friction across POS systems, kiosks and digital and third-party ordering platforms. And consumers benefit from the convenience that enables, and the customized, seamless experiences the technology delivers.

Give them great digital-first customer service


Offering top-tier customer service isn’t limited to on-premise experiences; customers ordering online want one that’s personalized, too. Especially since the pandemic introduced a wave of first-time users to digital ordering and off-premise dining, user-friendly technologies are key to keeping the process as easy and simple as possible.

Digital ordering systems offer a great opportunity for restaurants to leverage the personalization that consumers prefer. And when restaurants cater their digital ordering platforms to individuals, everybody wins.

Consumers can easily order their favorite meals and take advantage of promotions, and restaurant operators can help boost revenue by encouraging diners to add their favorite menu items to their order before checkout. According to Technomic’s Delivery and Takeout report, 32% of consumers say they’d likely use a digital ordering system if it automatically pulled up their favorite menu items to make ordering easier in the future.

For some restaurants, outsourcing support for digital ordering can provide the assistance they need to help increase check averages—and customer satisfaction—by offering loyalty features, custom offers and promotions through restaurants’ digital channels. What’s more, outsourcing systems may come with feedback mechanisms embedded into restaurants’ digital channels so that operators can stay on top of what customers are asking for and maintain a competitive edge. 

See how NCR can help.

This post was originally published on Restaurant Business Online. Find it here.


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