Don’t Shut — Put your Restaurant Online!

2020 was one hell of a ride, like literally! But 2021 would hopefully be better, not because we have found a cure or a vaccination to curb the virus, but we have definitely learned to live with it. COVID-19, like any other flu, is going to become ubiquitous in our lives, and whether we like it or not, we’ll have to keep the masks on, for an indefinite time. The NEW WORLD that everyone has been talking about, has arrived and how!

Speaking of the new world, the restaurant industry has seen a great shift in the pandemic world. The majority of people are either ordering takeout, opting for curbside pick up, or placing delivery orders. Thanksgiving 2020 saw a substantial increase of about 350% in restaurant sales compared to the previous year. Christmas 2020 is going to be no different with restaurants expecting 30% more demand in online orders. The reasons are plenty, but safety and convenience top the list for most customers.

So then why more than 50k restaurants in the US alone have filed for bankruptcy in the past 3 months? And why certain restaurants, despite the back-breaking pandemic, managed to profit and expand? Read how the Brooklyn restaurant has expanded during the pandemic

Let’s find out how you can win in the next normal

Adapt Channel Strategy

The pandemic has not only changed eating habits and consumer lifestyle choices, but also accelerated the use of digital channels — such as online ordering, click and collect, and contactless ordering. Staying in is the new going out which has resulted in a substantial increase in digital ordering and delivery.

A new set of data from Statista reveals that weekend orders are up by 46 percent across the USA compared to pre-lockdown numbers and are likely to continue accelerating in the same fashion. In Europe, orders on weekends were up by 18 percent; in the United Kingdom restaurants saw 40% more orders.

While shutdowns and restrictions negatively affect restaurant foot traffic, they also create new opportunities for restaurants to expand in different directions and stay afloat.

During August, September, and October — many independent restaurants expanded operations to a new neighborhood offering both takeout and delivery services. In fact, delivery-only kitchens in NYC have reported a 50 percent increase in breakfast and lunch orders and an 80 percent increase in dinner orders.

Embrace Digital Ordering

Despite the existing prevalence of digital ordering and delivery, restaurants across the cities and the states saw many regular diners ordering food digitally for the first time.

According to a recent report, the USA saw a 5 percent increase in consumers placing online orders, while Germany and the UK saw 3 percent. According to a report published by McKinsey, across Europe, 35 to 55 percent of customers have reported to continue ordering food online in the future.

Given the high demand for online ordering and delivery, restaurants are more likely to embrace the technologies that enable them to reach their customers in the most convenient and seamless manner.

From having a native website to using an integrated marketplace for both ordering and delivery — there are ample options to choose from if one decides to jump the bandwagon.

What a restauranteur needs to understand that having an online presence is no longer an option, but a mandate that would decide the course of the business for the next few years.

Select the Right Delivery Option

When it comes to delivery, every restaurant strives to provide both quality and speed. Customers opting for food delivery are especially sensitive to timeliness and delivery speed. But streamlining the delivery has always been a complicated feat for most restaurants.

It doesn’t really have to be!

With some planning and research, it is easy to set up a strong delivery system. Thought having self-delivery would be ideal, but if you are not ready to invest in your own fleet, finding a third-party delivery service provider that works on flat-rate delivery would be a way to begin online operations.

Selecting the right delivery option, however, will depend on various factors including the area covered, local customers, average cart value, menu type, and delivery economics. For more insight, check out my previous post on Self Delivery V/s Third-Party.

Add Click and Collect

The demand for click-and-collect ordering that falls under the curbside pick up and takeaway category has risen manifold since the pandemic. Those who have been utilizing restaurant apps for ordering even before the COVID disruption would be familiar with this concept. Those who didn’t, have definitely learned to embrace the new.

In response to this drastic shift in the trend, many restaurant technology providers launched click-to-order features that allow consumers to order meals for both off-premises and on-premise dining while providing a safe and hygienic payment option.

Contactless is a MUST!

So much has already been written about the importance of contactless ordering. I’m going to skip the basics. You can head on to this article to get an insight into how Contactless Ordering and Deliver has become an essential part of restaurants in the COVID world.

Restaurants have been piloting a range of technologies that offer contactless solutions — such as robotic deliveries, QR menu scan, pulley systems, kiosk ordering, and SmartScreen-controlled shelves to minimize unnecessary contact between the customers and the staff. The framework to implement these solutions is simple — identify interactions, diagnose risks, and implement in an agile way whilst preparing for long-term solutions.

If you’ve been thinking to shut down because of low footfall or no reservations, think again! You’ve spent so many years building a brand. People already know you. They would love to order from your restaurant only if you provide them the convenience and safety that they strive for in today’s challenging environment.

Convert your dining area into a cloud kitchen. Add some employees or utilize the existing team of waiters to deliver. Make your menu delivery friendly. Invest in good packaging material. And most importantly, keep your customers happy! Good food makes them happy — regardless of whether they are eating it at the restaurant or in the comfort of their home.

So pause, think, restrategize, and rise again!

Writer | Digital Marketer | Entrepreneur. Good food and a Good Book keep me sane!