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4 Factors to Consider Before Implementing Mobile Order/Pay

Mobile and online ordering for food and drink is experiencing explosive growth. In its recent quarterly earnings report, Starbucks stated that its mobile order and pay service now accounts for 8 percent of all transactions and growing. Additionally, mobile payment alone reached 29 percent of Starbucks U.S. company-operated transactions.
Other companies have announced plans to expand their mobile offering with the clear expectation that it will grow their businesses. McDonald’s believes it lost 500 million U.S. orders in the past 5 years, and mobile order and pay is part of its strategy to win them back. Many hospitality providers are feeling the pressure to offer or improve their digital ordering services as there is mounting evidence that mobile is shifting market share.
While a successful pre-order and pre-pay service has the potential to dramatically increase same-store sales and increase profits, it will require ongoing operational adjustments to ensure order volume can be managed effectively. In this article, Preoday offers some key factors to consider before integrating a mobile offering into your operations.
1. Think outside your traditional operating box
Businesses need to prepare by thinking ahead about how they’re going to cope with an increase in same-store sales. This means both back in the kitchen and with customer interaction. Operators will need to think outside the box and consider options that might be new to their establishment.
For example, would curb-side pick-up be a way to ease the pressure in-store? Should you create a separate area for mobile/online collection? Should a separate area of the kitchen be dedicated to pre-ordering as it grows? Would it be useful to text customers to notify them when their order is ready? These are just some of the operational adjustments that early pre-order adopters have considered and implemented to address the increase in sales volume.
2. Customer communication
Customer communication is critical when implementing a pre-order system. Businesses must consider: Who is going to let the customer know they’ve received their order and the time when it will be ready? And, if something goes wrong, a designated staff member must be in charge of communicating the issue to the customer so they don’t arrive at the store or restaurant expecting to be able to pick up their order. Depending on order volume, tracking and managing customer communication of pre-orders can itself be a material operational adjustment that needs to be thoroughly planned.
3. Make sure the staff is ready
A company’s staff is key to making mobile and online ordering a success. They are still the face and voice of the operation and will be both preparing the food and interacting with customers who place digital orders. With mobile ordering, you may reach new peak order volume records and your staff needs to be ready for this.
You may have to rethink work routines and encourage staff to be flexible especially as you roll out the service and make your marketing push. They may need to be ready to help at a moment’s notice in another area of the business to address a peak in demand. Well-trained staff will adapt quickly and create the customer experience that you desire.
Education around your mobile and online ordering system should be integrated into the continuous training you already do. Staff should be able to help customers with any queries, as well as be ambassadors for the new service.
4. To deliver or not to deliver?
The ease of mobile or digital ordering quickly raises issues around food delivery. Offering delivery for consumers or businesses unwilling or unable to pick-up has its benefits: You will expand your reach well beyond the physical location of your restaurant; it leads to better utilization of kitchen capacity; and boosts loyalty among customers at home or work. However, if a restaurant hasn’t offered delivery before, it can be daunting. One approach is to support pick-up first and then step into delivery service. When ready, there are plenty of tools and companies that are solely focused on facilitating delivery, help it run smoothly and integrate with pre-ordering technology.
Ultimately, a successful pre-ordering service enhances the customer experience, deepens customer relationships, drives more revenue and increases profit margins. It’s important that your people and operations are ready to provide the mobile experience your customers expect.
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