Restaurants Embrace Mobile Apps, Digital Access and Order-Ahead Technology

Everywhere you look these days, you see it. Special lanes are marked in parking lots. Signs are posted with instructions and QR codes. People pull up in front of their favorite store, restaurant, or other place of business, and soon someone brings their merchandise directly to their car, placing it in the trunk with no direct contact whatsoever.

The sheer volume of establishments offering this type of service at the moment can, of course, be attributed to the COVID-19 pandemic.

But the truth is that while the unprecedented difficulties of 2020 have rapidly expanded the practice, the phenomenon of order-ahead and curbside-pickup services had already been gathering steam with brands like Starbucks, McDonalds, and Sonic, among many others, all offering their version of order-ahead apps.

Even before masks and hand sanitizers and plexiglass screens became the norm, Starbucks had been steadily moving in the direction of an order-ahead service model. Recently, in fact, the coffee titan made the decision to close 400 locations making room for order-ahead only stores to rise in their place.

The service preferences of Millennials, along with increasing tech savvy among customers in general were among the sparks for this rising pre-COVID trend (in 2017, experts were predicting that the mobile order-ahead industry could be a $38 billion industry by 2020) and the practice naturally spread like wildfire when shutdowns and shelter-in-place became the norm.

Now, after months of familiarity with the practice, customers have come to expect it, and will continue to do so when the coronavirus crisis has died down.

Over 80% of consumers have searched for a restaurant on their mobile device, and that number is only going to rise as time goes by. The majority of consumers (53%) are adding more mobile dining apps to limit their contact with on-site staff. More than half (51%) of those have downloaded at least one new app to purchase food and essentials, with 37% adding more than two.

Put simply, if you haven’t already begun to embrace mobile apps, digital access, and order-ahead technology, you’re at a competitive disadvantage, and that disadvantage is only going to grow the longer you wait.

But navigating the process of building a custom app can be a daunting experience to say the least—it’s expensive and likely requires hiring an outside development firm that doesn’t know your brand the way you do.

Solutions like OneDine, however, offer an array of technological solutions for streamlining the ordering, payment, and overall dining experience. POS-integrated solutions like OneDine’s offer easy initial setup and data-driven insights to make your operations more efficient and your service more personalized as well as contact-free—all with no app required. And the service is absolutely free through September 1, 2020.

Customers who opt for curbside pickup can easily navigate the process, from ordering to payment to delivery, directly from their mobile device from the comfort of their car.

Upon arrival, your guests simply choose a parking spot and scan a QR code from a sign to check in and announce their arrival.

Guests will then be directed to your custom mobile ordering website, where they can safely order and pay, and let your team know which parking spot they’re in. OneDine tracks whether the customer has paid, where to take out the food, and how long the customer has been waiting. You can also manage the transaction by sending an SMS to the customer with a payment or notification link. Guests can order and pay in less than 2 minutes and be on their way quickly and easily.

The OneDine system also offers a choice of menu types for guests to peruse. Guests can toggle between the browsing menu and the ordering menu, and in each case you can choose to display a wealth of information, including:

      • Nutritional data
      • Descriptions and disclaimers
      • Tags for certain items for customers to filter, like “Gluten free,” “Vegan,” “Spicy”
      • Larger pictures

Guests can also experience safe, contactless payment with a variety of options, including:

      • SMS messages with a link to an online payment portal
      • A QR code that can be scanned from a tablet or a receipt to initiate payment
      • Ordering online via custom mobile browsing/ordering website with payment at checkout (or upon arrival via SMS or QR code)
      • Or, depending upon contactless preferences, guests may walk inside to pay

Not offering order-ahead to consumers means missing out on both increased revenue and continued customer acquisition. But thankfully, it doesn’t have to be difficult—in fact, OneDine’s staff can get your business up and running with our contactless solutions in as little as 24 hours. Get in touch, or set up a demo to learn more!