The retail industry has talked about moving to omnichannel for years — so much so that retailers grew tired of hearing the overused (and sometimes-misused) term. But the real meaning behind the buzzword is the business model that will take retailers into the future. “Omnichannel,” by definition, enables consumers to engage seamlessly with a brand in person, online, on their smartphones, at unattended point of sale (POS), or any other channel.
The omnichannel business model has expanded beyond retail to other types of merchants — including restaurants. Although your restaurant clients are probably going to hear “omnichannel” a lot from industry analysts and vendors, just as with retail, it’s more than just a buzzword or hype. It’s a transition they need to make to stay in business.
Trends Driving Omnichannel in the Restaurant Industry
Dining behaviors and preferences are evolving. A growing number of consumers are ordering for delivery or pickup rather than choosing to eat in a restaurant’s dining room. Restaurant Business magazine reports that off-premises dining now accounts for 38 percent of all restaurant sales and it’s growing faster than overall sales. Quick service restaurants (QSRs) account for the majority of those sales. Fast casual and casual dining restaurants, however, with curbside pickup or by partnering with third-party companies for online orders and delivery, are contributing to that growth.
On-premises diners are also looking for ways to engage with restaurant online. They’re using tablets, PCs and smartphones to review menus, make reservations, add their names to wait lists, and interact with businesses on social media.
Diners, who use technology to make other aspects of their lives easier and more convenient want those same types of experiences from restaurants.
Tech that Makes the Omnichannel Business Model Work
Omnichannel restaurants need the right technology solutions to operate successfully. Obviously, the model requires a connection to the internet and online ordering and e-commerce capabilities through a website or app. But omnichannel is more than just allowing customers to interact with a restaurant in different ways. It’s rethinking all aspects of a business so customers can easily move from one channel to another. For example:
Menus: Omnichannel restaurants need to digitize menus and consistently make changes or pricing updates for both physical and digital menus. Some restaurants choose to have different online menus so it’s easier for the kitchen to keep up during peak times. Restaurants require a system that allows them to manage all menus effectively.
Food prep: Kitchens preparing food for on-premises diners as well as for delivery or pickup need to carefully prioritize prep so orders are ready — and warm and appetizing — at the right times. A kitchen display system (KDS) that sends orders to the kitchen according to their priority can be a valuable tool.
Workflows: Omnichannel restaurant managers don’t just schedule and oversee servers and kitchen staff. They may also need to establish delivery zones and routes for drivers, locate them on the road, and accurately compensate them. Online orders for pickup require a solution for accurately labeling to minimize waste and keep customers happy. In addition, you need to provide your restaurant customers with a way to access business data in real time, either to review a specific revenue stream or the business as a whole.
Tips: Omnichannel customers may tip online, upon delivery, or in person at the restaurant. Employees may receive tips in multiple ways and need an efficient way to complete end-of-day reports.
Payments: An omnichannel business needs to accept payments in the restaurant, online, over the phone, on mobile devices and at kiosks. These businesses need a payments partner that can provide all of the features and functionality they need and keep payment data secure. Providing your restaurant clients with an omnichannel payment solution also allows them to recognize customers regardless of how they engage, award loyalty points, and tokenize digital data so customers don’t have to re-enter it each time they order.
Restaurant Omnichannel is More than Hype
Consumers demand the convenience of ordering from a smartphone, scheduling pickup at their convenience and paying online with a credit card. To win and keep their loyalty, your restaurant clients need to provide the types of engagement and experiences their customers want. The solutions you provide can help your clients understand the true meaning of omnichannel and evolve into the businesses that they need to become to stay relevant and competitive.