Is Your Restaurant Using Technology Properly?

Most entrepreneurs don't go into the restaurant business thinking about technology, but the constant growth of mobile users is a force that can't be ignored. To help you better your business and give customers the options they want, NetWaiter has compiled some of the most useful stats on how technology and mobile devices impact restaurant growth and included them in this infographic.

Before diving into what you should be doing, let's clear the clutter and address what you shouldn't. Technology is not at a standstill -- it's changing every day, which means the best practices of the moment may not apply next month. Never feel the need to try a new feature or product just because it's buzzworthy. Always take your restaurant's needs into consideration first, and weigh whether your customer base will truly benefit from the new addition. For example, if you own a family-run Italian restaurant, putting tablets at tables may take away from the personal home-style theme you strive for and what customers seek. Not every piece of technology is the right fit for your restaurant, but online ordering is one thing that all restaurant owners need to consider.

What makes restaurant online ordering so crucial?

It helps you expand your takeout and delivery business, which research by Technomic shows to be the fastest growing sector for full-service and casual dining restaurants. Takeout orders have increased by 8 percent each year the last few years, which is approximately twice the rate of overall sales. Investing in an already powerful part of your business is a great way to see a return on investment -- and in customers. After placing an online order, you have a 95 percent chance of seeing that customer again. Online ordering gives customers a simple solution to placing takeout orders and improves the probability of earning the repeat business of a customer.

What happens if you don't offer takeout?

You lose customers. Technomic's study included asking consumers what they would have done if takeout had not been available when ordering from a restaurant the last time they ordered food to go. 76 percent answered they would have foregone eating at a restaurant entirely, and 11 percent revealed they would have chosen an alternative. If takeout or nothing is a common consumer mindset, not having a convenient ordering system in place is a sure way to lose customers that don't dine-in. Takeout orders also allow you to increase sales without the need for more space or staff to serve the customers.

These new findings emphasize the importance of having an easy-to-use online ordering system, but how else do consumers use technology as part of the dining experience? The infographic shows how mobile devices also play a role in restaurant growth. Smartphones are used for 50 percent of restaurant searches, and two-thirds of consumers searching for a restaurant do so with the intent to eat there that day. It has been estimated that there are currently somewhere around 182 million smartphones in the United States, and 90 percent of millennials (the biggest demographic for online ordering) own a smartphone. In fact, according to the Pew Research Center, most of them sleep with their phone in arm's reach. It makes sense this young generation of smartphone-dependent customers look to their mobile device to find and order food.

What do we now know?

  1. Takeout sales are a huge factor in restaurant growth.
  2. Millennials are entering or currently in their prime consumer years.
  3. Mobile devices play a huge role in connecting millennials and restaurants.

So, what do we do? Restaurants need to offer online ordering to support their takeout and delivery business because it's a low-maintenance sales booster and highly attractive to a huge segment of their customer-base.

Infographic via NetWaiter