How Restaurant Operations and Marketing Can Work Together to Create a Flawless Digital Ordering Experience

Pymnts.com cites that 55% of QSRs provide an in-store pick-up feature through digital channels. Many restaurant brands are shifting their strategies — and their spaces — to better accommodate guests.

Implementing digital ordering is no small feat, and for brands looking to enhance the experience, operations and marketing teams must work together. Read on for 4 key strategies that teams should use to stay aligned and create a flawless digital ordering experience.

Use the Right Containers to Keep Food Hot/Cold For When the Guest Arrives

How many times have you placed a digital order for pick-up only to discover that upon arrival, your food’s temperature was not what you expected?

Allyson Klineman, Director of Agency Services at LevelUp, spoke with industry experts at the Restaurant Franchising + Innovation Summit:

“Depending on the kind of restaurant, you tend to have a lot of people tripping over each other because there’s no dedicated pick-up area for digital orders. What’s more, the staff puts out orders as they’re received and hope that it’s still hot/cold when it gets picked up.” – Warren Solochek – The NPD Group

Some brands, like Wings Over, provide an estimate of when an order will be ready so that the guest knows when to arrive. Other brands like sweetgreen, allow a guest to choose when they want to pick up their order.

Brands should also carefully consider food packaging. Cambros are a great way to preserve the temperature of foods. Nylon bags allow for steam and moisture to escape, which means that crispy foods won’t go soggy. This is critical for foods like pizza and fries (although cold pizza is great the morning after). Microwavable containers not only keep soup piping hot, but guests can reuse the containers at home — talk about sustainability.

Many containers can be used for both hot and cold foods, but it’s essential to keep the two separate. Sauces should also always be kept in a separate container so food can maintain its crispness.

Create a Unique Experience by Refabbing Your Store for Digital Orders

A consistent experience is paramount to a satisfied guest and can lead to more frequent visits. When a guest places a digital order, they expect a fast, flawless experience. When they come into the store for pick-up, they expect their order to be ready and waiting. Their food should be waiting in its own area of the restaurant, separate from dine-in guests.

“If I’m a guest coming into the store for a pick-up order, there’s a chance that I have to wait behind someone who might only be ordering one item. This can be very frustrating and it’s currently our biggest challenge. But, the digital channel has helped reduce this frustration.” Jacqueline O’Reilly – La Madeleine

Some restaurant brands like Dig Inn have refabbed their stores to include a separate section for guests coming in to pick up their digital orders. Guests that dine in continue to have the same great experience, and those that order online are not hampered by lines when simply coming in to pick up their food.

Dig Inn Pick Up - Emma Westcester
Photo Credit: Emma Westchester

Use Consistent Messaging and Promotions For a Flawless Experience from App to Store

If you run a promotion in your app, make sure your in-store signage reflects that offer to avoid guest confusion.  In-store signage that reflect in-app or online promotions can also serve as a great way to encourage guests to download your app.

In today’s world, nothing will turn off a guest faster than having an outdated offer in-app or in-store. A guest who sees an outdated logo, or even worse, an expired reward or limited-time offer, won’t think highly of your brand. Bait and switch tactics have never been kosher, so keep things in-sync.

Staff Appropriately to Manage Incoming Foot Traffic

If the marketing team is pushing out digital campaigns and driving foot traffic, make sure you have the right amount of staff to manage increased orders efficiently.

Use your POS system to analyze historical sales frequency during marketing campaigns, and communicate with staff when you expect to see higher foot traffic. If you provide in-store pick-up, make sure that your staff is appropriately trained on where completed orders go and where to direct added traffic.

“There’s a constant back and forth between marketing and operations: ‘Are we going to push hard on dinner to-go or not?’ If we’re understaffed and drive a lot of traffic to the store, we could end up creating a negative customer experience.” – Jacqueline O’Reilly, La Madeleine

Understaffing can negatively affect your guests’ and employees’ experience.

Looking to learn more? See how &pizza increased their orders by 230% through digital ordering and engagement:

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Ray Bugayong

Ray Bugayong

Ray is the Demand Gen Manager at LevelUp. As a former small business owner, his involvement with local food groups fuels his culinary creativity. When he's not dreaming of food, you can find him at the gym or a local cocktail bar dreaming up his next entrepreneurial pursuit.

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