Gone are the days of having to pick up at your local pizza or asian restaurant. In the span of two decades the food delivery industry has grown to an industry worth more than $150 billion, having more than tripled since 2017, with a plethora of options from any cuisine type from any culture right at your fingertips. The pandemic only accelerated the adoption of digital delivery and while there may be some leveling off, that level will be higher than our pre-pandemic world and there is no doubt that digital delivery is here to stay.

Over the course of that time, there has been a lot to learn in order to satisfy guests and provide a restaurant experience in their own home. Both restaurateurs and consumers had to learn how to deal with everything from placing online orders, dealing with delivery zones, and the worst offender of all, soggy fries. 

So how do we provide a better online ordering experience? In this post we’ll share 3 quick tips that will help optimize your customer experience and build long lasting relationships with your customers.

Choosing the Right Online Ordering System for your Restaurant

Your website and digital ordering solution is the front door for your brand. It is how your customers learn about you, your story and determine whether or not they will be ordering from you. Your online ordering platform is one of the most important factors in ensuring that your customers have a smooth experience when ordering from you online. 

An ideal ordering system should let your customers access a visually appealing menu that’s easy to use no matter what device they are – mobile, tablet or desktop. They should be able to checkout with ease, get rewarded through an integrated loyalty program, and your checkout should have support from major card providers. 

There are also two key elements that will help create a frictionless experience. The first being a guest checkout. If this is the first time ordering from you, you may want the customer to breeze through the process without having to sign up. For your more frequent customers, if you have a loyalty program where users can earn points or dollars towards rewards, signing up with you means you get their user data, and can provide them with promotions. For the customer, allowing them to view their order history for quick re-orders can be incredibly beneficial to overall the user experience. This opportunity may also  entice those customers who are new to your brand to actually sign up right away. 

At the end of the day, this is just table stakes for providing a good ordering experience for your customers. There are a number of must-do’s that you should consider when choosing a digital platform for your brand. Our “5 Must-Dos When Choosing Digital Platform for your Brand” is a detailed blog post that can help you when choosing the ideal system.

Optimizing your Packaging

Getting your brand in front of your customers is a key element in building your brand. Further to that, the role your packaging plays is a key success factor. This however is something that many restaurants (especially smaller ones) tend to skip out on. 

According to Technomic, about 67% of customers say it’s important that the packaging maintains the food/beverage’s temperature. While the typical route of mass-produced cups, trays and bags with your logo plastered atop may be a popular choice, you might want to analyze if that type of food packaging is an effective choice for the type of food you deliver. 

The packaging that you select will impact your guest experience once it arrives at their home. Consider testing various options to see what works best for your menu along with 30-40 minutes delivery times to better understand how your food appears on arrival to your customer. You may find that not all items travel well and depending on packaging, you may even need to revise and remove items off your delivery menu.

Finally, don’t forget what a little personal touch can do for your customers’ experience. Handwritten thank-yous, a little smiley face drawn on the bag, or something equally personal can drastically improve customer experience as it sets the tone prior to them enjoying your meal. Offer customers a cheery, genuine impression, and they’ll be happy to reciprocate and in the form of word-of-mouth or even a positive online review. 

Optimizing your Delivery Experience

You’ve got your customers to place their order online, you’ve packaged it in a way that will provide a great experience at their home, and now you need to get there in an efficient manner. The experience that your customer has from leaving your kitchen to their front door is critical to creating a great customer experience and growing loyalty along the way. Of all factors ranked as most important for improved customer experience, “Efficiency” ranked at the top – followed closely by convenience

Investing in the infrastructure needed to make deliveries fast and efficient will pay dividends in the future, especially as trends show delivery rates will remain the same post-pandemic as during the pandemic. 

While delivery may sound challenging, this isn’t a battle you have to fight alone. Some online ordering platforms come packaged alongside partnerships with established delivery services. If you can get a similar arrangement, you can take advantage of a system built on optimizing this part of a customer’s experience.

For instance, Smooth Commerce integrates with Skip and DoorDash to enable their DaaS (Delivery as a Service) to enable restaurants to provide a smooth delivery experience when ordering from their white label app or web ordering platform. This means you can create another revenue channel by using delivery, without having to hire your own drivers or paying higher commission fees. This is a great way to help build customer loyalty – having them order directly from your restaurant. 

In summary, by focusing on optimizing your customer experience from online ordering through to packaging and into delivery, you can provide your customers with a much improved experience that can pay dividends from basket size, to bottom line. 

About Smooth Commerce

Smooth Commerce is a digital ordering, customer marketing and loyalty platform for restaurants. We take ordering to the next level with personalized customer engagement, making your digital storefront the cornerstone of your brand. By solving more restaurant pain points in one digital platform than anyone else, we put you back in control of the customer’s experience with your brand to promote profitable sales growth.

If you would like to learn more or talk to a representative from Smooth Commerce about how our platform can help you meet your loyalty goals, contact us at learnmore@smooth.tech.