A few years ago, omnichannel was a concept that was applied almost exclusively to retail brands. Today, it is a successful operational model that is used by organizations across multiple industries, including the food and restaurant sector.

But what exactly is an omnichannel restaurant and why should your restaurant aspire to be one? Let’s define the advantages and building blocks of a multi-channel strategy for your food business.

 

What is omnichannel? Why should I embrace it?

 

The restaurant industry is experiencing a transformation. Today’s consumers want to order their food fast, wherever they are, whenever they feel like it. A seamless and connected customer experience is a must, not just a nice-to-have. Those consumer needs are driving the omnichannel trend. For restaurants, that means providing multiple ways for your customers to order, pay, and get their meals.

And there’s more. Your guests expect a consistent experience, no matter the sales channel they use. Whether the customers order in person, over the phone, online, with a QR code, in food ordering apps, or at a kiosk: you should have a solid strategy in order to satisfy their need for convenience, personalization, speed, and consistency.

So why should your restaurant take an omnichannel approach? For the same reasons you would expand your brick-and-mortar locations: to reach new - and different - customers and create additional revenue streams. And let’s not forget that multiple convenient ordering options, both online and offline, is exactly what your customer is looking for. 

Touchscreen ordering in restaurant

 

Building a successful omnichannel operation

 

To win at omnichannel, you need to harness technology in a number of ways. 

Technology allows your customers to book their table online, leave feedback about their experience, and follow your business. Technology makes it possible for your customers to order online, in third-party food delivery apps, from click & collect stores, through a QR code, or at a kiosk in your restaurant. Secure payment, browsing your menu online, tracking delivery orders, rating your restaurant: all these operations wouldn’t be possible without today’s extensive suite of technologies.

But more than that, your restaurant has to be able to process all these different types of transactions in a consistent and efficient way. If you can’t handle the demand seamlessly, being on multiple platforms will backfire in no time.

That’s why it’s crucial to integrate as many channels as possible into your restaurant’s point-of-sale system - and other business systems for personnel planning, inventory management, reporting, etc. By ensuring that your online delivery and takeout orders, and your kiosk and QR orders are flowing into your POS, you can provide an excellent experience while focusing on your core business: preparing and serving delicious food.

Mobile food ordering on smartphone

 

Multi-channel marketing

 

To successfully execute your omnichannel strategy and optimize the customer experience, it’s important to understand all the channels involved. Which customers use which channels, at which time during the ordering process? And how can your restaurant master marketing to capture that audience?

To give an example, the average diner considers more than 4 restaurants before deciding where to eat. Surely you don't think the customer is looking for a place to eat (only) by walking around the neighborhood?

An omnichannel marketing strategy is therefore a must for every type of restaurant. You can use your social media to build a relationship with your customers, identify brand ambassadors, share photos and stories, and inspire people to try your brand. Email marketing is another great way to reach your customers, for instance with promotions, personalized offers and news. Don’t forget about loyalty programs - 65% of a company’s business comes from existing customers!

Your marketing approach should be consistent across all channels, so keep an eye on your branding. Last but not least: keep everything connected to the offline world. Your customers switch between online and offline without flinching. Regardless of what type of channels they use, they desire a smooth and frictionless omnichannel experience regardless.

Server in restaurant taking order

 

The omnichannel restaurant is future-proof

 

More than ever, businesses are relying on their omnichannel strategies such as online ordering, takeout, delivery, curbside pickup, etc., to encourage (repeat) business. Diverting your resources can help your restaurant maintain and grow your customer base now and in the future.

Karolien Odou
June 29, 2020 by Karolien Odou

Content marketer at Deliverect and fulltime carnivore