Everything is digital today. From online ordering to curbside order fulfillment, technology has improved operations across the board, but it has also removed a lot of the ‘human’ that was central to restaurant experiences. In this blog, we will address the challenges of the digital restaurant experience and simple steps that make digital ordering and pickup experiences more seamless, more joyful, more human.
COVID was disastrous for restaurants but one small positive that emerged was that it catapulted restaurant takeout business. Direct Takeout (not via 3rd parties) is more profitable and maintains customer relationships – two attributes that are vital to restaurant survival today – so the hockey stick of growth in direct takeout is a trend that all restaurants hope to sustain. How?
Rakuten Ready’s 2020 TIME Study found that when executed well (meaning fast, safe, and easy), customers are 4x more likely to repeat ordering takeout directly from restaurants. Technology such as Rakuten Ready’s ARRIVE, that lets you know when your takeout customers have arrived, is step 1 to executing takeout seamlessly.
Step 2, then, is ensuring you have a direct line to your customer during that last mile of order fulfillment. This can be as simple as integrating SMS Check-ins with 2-way communications:
Run out of a menu item that your customer ordered?
Have questions about your customer’s customization request?
Running a little late?
All of these use cases require simple 2-way communication – which today, means mobile SMS texting. Ensure your tech stack incorporates 2-way SMS so you and your customer can stay in touch throughout the last mile. This is the one area in the current digital ordering experience that is lacking and truly requires human communication. Due to cost, SMS has generally not been included in any ordering or last mile technology. (HINT: read below to learn how you can get it now)
Step 1 (arrival notifications such as ARRIVE) enables fulfillment of perfectly prepared food, timed around the customer’s arrival. But Step 2 (2-way communication) adds back the ‘human’ by enabling order questions to be answered and updates to be provided, while ensuring premium quality assurance.
2-way SMS communication is the ideal addition to your digital takeout solution, as it can replicate that human flow of communication that you’d otherwise have in person or over the phone.
Why not the phone?
Shortfalls in the ‘I’m Here’ button in email confirmation
There are many ways a restaurant can implement ‘I’m Here’ to execute curbside takeout orders. Most implementations have an ‘I’m Here’ button included in the order confirmation email.
The problem with most ‘I’m Here’ executions is that consumers are not trained to look for that in their email, and it’s often missed resulting in customers showing up and uncertain how to receive their curbside order. Additionally, with email-based ‘I’m Here,’ there is no way for a customer to communicate where they are in the parking lot, creating confusion for your store employees and wasting their time as well as your customers’.
The answer to creating a seamless last mile experience is simple: Rakuten Ready’s brand new ARRIVE product, ARRIVE Essential. ARRIVE Essential is simple plug + play technology that powers faster, safer, and easier takeout operations.