The concept of what it means to be a ‘restaurant’ is evolving over time
Have you got what it takes to thrive and not simply survive in 2022?
Late last year, archaeologists excavated a 2,000-year-old food stall in the ancient Roman city of Pompeii, of course famous for being completely covered in ash and lava when Mount Vesuvius erupted back in A.D 79. The community was decimated, but the ash preserved the food counter in its entirety, including the remains of two people found inside. What meals were on offer you ask? Evidence of pork, fish, goat, duck, and even snails (Bonjour modern day French cuisine!) were found in the stall’s earthen pots.
So, it’s the end of 2021, and you’re wondering whether old-fashioned bricks-and-mortar eating establishments are on their way out. The answer is a resounding ‘No’. People are social creatures, and we love to get together with family, friends, teammates, colleagues, potential romantic or business interests, old connections and new for a bite to eat or over a drink.
Take away and delivery services have been part of the restaurant equation for quite some time now, but in the modern Information Age we now find ourselves living in you need to enhance your in-house dining experience, while concurrently increasing your presence in other channels.
If you haven’t considered a POS system, self-ordering kiosk, table ordering system, or online ordering system, you potentially risk being swallowed up whole by the lava of digital, online, and information technologies used by your competitors. These science-fiction-like tools are now ‘consuming’ society’s focus, fuelled by our own newfound collective expectations of what we feel the food service sector needs to offer us moving forward into the future.
1. Humans and automation don’t only coexist peacefully, they enhance experience.
Doomsday theorists, luddites, and people who simply feel uncomfortable with change have long expressed their concerns regarding automation, artificial intelligence, and all things digital (Remember Y2K anyone?). The hard truth of the matter is, state-of-the-art restaurant technologies increase profits for the business owner, while boosting customer satisfaction through a more personalised, seamless, and customised experience.
Staff have more time and space to focus on delighting customers.
Do you think automation creates a stale, sterile, inhuman, or unfriendly environment? Think again! Automated processes have proven to have the opposite effect on customer experience. iPads for table ordering allow people to take their time when ordering. They’re able to show customers beautiful images of the items, explain what’s in their meals, and easily allow subtle changes to their orders, i.e., due to dietary issues or specific likes/dislikes.
Wait staff are still present for more in-depth communication, and as they aren’t constantly feeling swamped by the waving arms of customers (for something as small as more serviettes or another glass of water), when a person’s face does come into frame, it’s more likely to be one of conscious awareness – focused on your enjoyment.
Throw in a loyalty program and you can create a more personalised experience for your clientele, where their favourites are known, and special offers are tailored to their specific fancy. This can include discounts on the meals or sides you know they love to order. People order more when they have full control of the ordering process, which means it’s also a ‘win-win’ scenario for business owners craving a bigger bottom line.
2. Using the ubiquitous power that now resides in all our hands – mobile phones.
If you haven’t been locked away for decades in your kitchen ‘laboratory’ searching for new ways to implement umami into your meals, you’ve probably noticed the phenomenon of people staring at their mobile phones in this new millennium.
While in many contexts this habit isn’t necessarily conducive to healthy living, i.e., doing it while driving, walking across the road, or during a conversation with family or friends (some of whom now feel you aren’t listening or interested in the conversation at hand), when it comes to the food service industry, it is mobile technology that is now being used to drive traffic to bricks-and-mortar locations.
Employing a POS system that integrates with third-party online ordering apps for take away and delivery orders means staff spend way less time answering phone calls. Customers can order from anywhere their phone has an internet connection. Uber Eats, DoorDash, Deliveroo – choose one or all these services and witness an entirely new team of delivery staff at your disposal.
It’s amazing if you think about it, and customers can make reservations to eat in-person at your establishment from the phone permanently affixed to their hip. Talk about easier ways to access their hip pocket!
3. Buzzword alert! Omnichannel …
Create a unified experience between online and in-store business operations.
These days, people’s lives are more complex. You don’t just rock up to a restaurant. You go online; you check out reviews; you look at websites; you peruse third-party apps. A massive percentage of customers use multiple channels when going through the purchasing journey.
If you can create a seamless customer experience from online to in-store via a smooth ordering process and payment platform, you cover the entire customer journey. This means you can focus on every experience the customer has in relation to your brand, while simultaneously ensuring there are never any obstacles that could stop the sales process.
Sell your homemade pasta sauce online and in your restaurant while telling people about it on your social media pages and blog posts. With omnichannel commerce, all your channels are connected via one powerful POS system, whether the customer is buying your products or meals online from a mobile phone, tablet, laptop, or from your actual restaurant.
4. Been dreaming of loyal customers?
In addition to empowering customers to spend more via numerous channels (and they do!), omnichannel customers are also proven to be more loyal to your brand. With an engaging brand story that rings true when experienced online or in-store, people are more likely to recommend your brand to family and friends when compared to those who stick with the traditional single channel.
Loyalty POS add-on features make customers feel at home when they communicate with your brand. They’re rewarded for repeat business; they know you know their names, their favourite menu items, dietary preferences, and food intolerances. If you ever experience imposter syndrome or worry about your brand’s longevity, focus on customer loyalty and your brand will be safe.
5. Data, data, and data!
Ever heard the adage ‘information is power’? It is, and here’s how:
A good POS system, like ours at Abacus, uses digital technology to collect better data about your customers. You can then use this data to enhance and personalise customer experiences. Data is information about your customers’ ordering habits and spending patterns. By tracking it, you gain insights on how to create offers and marketing content to engage and encourage them to use more of your services, and buy more of your products – online, and at your physical locations.
Want to connect the dots between all possible sales channels, and offer customers a seamless experience across every platform including in-house dining? If so, give Abacus a call now!