Transforming Your Hospitality Business pt 2: The Ordering Process

So you’ve successfully implemented new delivery or pickup options for your restaurant, cafe, or bar. But how do customers place an order?

User experience during ordering is make or break; if customers find the process too difficult they’ll be quickly off your website and onto a competitor’s. Consider their user journey; remove any barriers to placing an order with your business and make communications between you and your customers transparent. You’ll thank yourself later.

Ordering Options

Make it as easy as possible for your customers to order online, especially if you’re up against big third party apps that take a hefty cut of your revenue. Chances are, these companies can afford the resources to make their processes as seamless as possible and get more eyeballs. Some consumers may be happy to support small business owners and afford you more patience, while others might get discouraged from ordering and look elsewhere. Give your business the best chance possible by giving your potential clients the easiest possible experience.

Text Message Ordering

Text message ordering is one of the most under-utilised tools available to restaurants and cafes. With all handsets having access to SMS text messaging, as a native application and without needing installation, you can send messages to customers and know that it will be received and read. This makes it the perfect tool for placing on-demand orders quickly.

Take the headache out of ordering processes by using an SMS autoresponder to automate your responses, allowing you to get food prepared and delivered fast. We’ve compiled some SMS templates for food delivery services and general information on setting up SMS autoresponders here.

The benefit of using SMS ordering is you do not need to have an interactive website with cart process. You can upload an image of your menu or have items listed on your website (and possibly social media pages) and let customers choose their items and text you. Or even better, send opted-in customers your menu via MMS.

Online Ordering

This requires a little more initial setup, but once up and running, you can keep your website going with minimal maintenance after restrictions are eased. This is also well suited to businesses that do orders for particular days, with cut-off times for delivery/pickup on that day.

For example, you are offering large grazing platters for mother’s day, or date night dinner and wine boxes on Fridays. Get all your orders in one place with an e-commerce setup, or even a basic form integration in your website. Once you have all your orders before the cut-off, you have time to source supplies and make products to order. Check out how to set up an online ordering form with Paperform. Bonus – these guys easily integrate with us through Zapier, so you can send customers automated order communications via SMS.

StoreKit also offers free software that enables you to get set up as a takeaway restaurant or retailer in 10 minutes or less, so they say.

Phone Orders

While a little more time consuming on your end, there will always be people who prefer to dial a business and place an order verbally. That’s ok. Be available to their calls to ensure you don’t alienate that particular client base. Your digital assets or advertising should all have a phone number call to action as an option.

Order Communications

While this can seem fiddly to nail, it’s a one-off investment and you’ll see the value of nailing your communications when you save hours on fielding customer calls asking about how to pay, delivery times or where their food is.

Pre-Order Communications

Here are a few things that your customers will want to know before they place an order:

  • How long will the order take?
  • How will I get the order – do you offer delivery or pickup?
  • Do you offer free delivery?
  • How much does delivery cost?
  • Where is delivery offered?
    Eg. 5km radius of your store, particular suburbs, etc.
  • When will I receive the order?
  • What food/beverages are you offering and at what price? Is it a subset of your usual product offerings?

Ensure that on your website, social media pages, and even through MMS messaging, that your customers are clear on the process. Keeping customers aware of the process ensures there are fewer ‘unknowns’, which helps to remove psychological barriers to sale.

Order Status

In this space, this is what UberEats and Dominos pizza excel at. At every point in the process, you get updated so you know where your food is at any point in time. This is great for the user experience, as they do not have to wonder whether their order has been received if it’s taking longer than expected.

However, you don’t need to create an app – this is where costs can rack up quickly! Use automated text messages and emails for order updates, also known as transactional messages, as these are perfect for letting customers know the status of their order. Some important touchpoints for clients are:

  • acknowledgment that the order (and/or payment) has been received, and is being prepared. It’s also helpful to include when they can expect the order to arrive.
  • notification that the order has left your premises
  • next in line notification – if you are delivering multiple orders and have quite a large estimated delivery frame (eg. between 9am and 5pm), it’s helpful to let customers know that their order is coming next so they can be prepared (and appropriately attired 😎).

Using your messaging automation tool, you can also send followup messages to elicit feedback.

No matter your business and your preferred way to receive customer orders, ClickSend can help you with messaging automations to make your life easier. Take advantage of our #SaveHospo free package for restaurants, bars, and cafes and get in touch with us if you’d like help setting up communications with your clients, staff, or suppliers.