For busy people, mobile ordering is a dream — order and pay for your food using a smartphone app, and it’s ready to go when you arrive. No waiting in line, no hassle. If you run a food truck or a restaurant, this exciting technology can add enormous value for your customers. Before you impulse-buy the latest ordering software, it’s important to figure out how mobile ordering fits into your operation.
What Technology Works Best for You?
Some of the biggest players in the food industry — think Starbucks and McDonald’s — are using mobile ordering to make customers’ lives easier. Even if you don’t have an unlimited budget, your small business can stay competitive with services such as Grubhub. When you sign up for a partner account, Grubhub lists your restaurant and menu in its directory. Customers can order through the app or website, and you receive orders immediately through the app. To help restaurants run more efficiently, Grubhub also offers point-of-sale integration.
If you prefer to run everything through your restaurant’s site and social media, a service like ChowNow is a great solution. This platform integrates into your existing website and Facebook profile, so customers can order from either place — a great way to convert web visitors into customers. ChowNow also creates an app for your restaurant for easy smartphone ordering. Every membership includes a tablet; the integrated system alerts you when an order comes in and lets you set a pickup time for the customer.
How-To Manage Online and In-Person Orders
Once you’ve chosen and tested a mobile ordering technology, you might need to make some changes to your business to maintain a great customer experience. Consider creating a separate pickup area for mobile orders; that way, you can reduce congestion and help mobile customers get in and out quickly. Large, clear signs are essential — they help your customers figure out where to go, even when your staff is too busy to direct traffic.
As you launch mobile ordering, keep a close eye on staffing to make sure that your employees can handle the extra workload. Depending on your operation, you might need to assign one person to handle online food orders, or simply add extra staff members during busy periods. Marking orders as "in person" or "mobile" can also help reduce confusion in the kitchen.
Get the Word Out There
The benefits of mobile ordering are obvious for your customers — but they can’t use the technology if they don’t know it’s available. When your staff is comfortable with the new system, it’s time to amp up your marketing. For a small restaurant business, social media is a great place to start. Reach out to your existing followers with regular posts, and purchase ads to target potential new customers.
From there, start to update all of your online spaces. Add a graphic and a link to each page on your website, write a post on your blog, and advertise your new service on your LinkedIn account. If you already run ads, either in print or online, update the artwork to mention online ordering. Don’t forget to reach out to your in-store customers with high-visibility signage. Want to encourage customers to order ahead to streamline your lunch rush? Try handing out flyers with discount codes for each person’s first online order.
Adding mobile ordering to your business is a breeze, thanks to well-tested platforms and user-friendly designs. By planning the rollout carefully and making sure your space and staff are prepared, you can attract new customers and increase sales without compromising the dining experience.