Why Restaurants Need to Embrace the Omnichannel Experience

For innovative brands, having such unlimited access to their guests and prospects means they can accept orders from anywhere, anytime, and earn more revenue along the way.

The word “omnichannel” has been getting tossed around a lot lately, and for good reason. What restaurants are dealing with in 2021 is an unprecedented boom in technology, allowing guests to interact with their favorite brands in virtually every medium imaginable.  

According to Forrester, half of all shoppers surveyed said they expect to be able to buy something online and pick it up at the store. More importantly, Google research has shown that an astounding 98% of Americans use more than one type of device each day. If your brand isn’t on more than one medium, you’re missing valuable streams of revenue that your guests are using every day, all the time.  

For innovative brands, having such unlimited access to their guests and prospects means they can accept orders from anywhere, anytime, and earn more revenue along the way. For the past several years now, guests have cried out for more convenience to the food they want, when they want it. Restaurants, to their credit, have approached the idea of the omnichannel with open arms.  

While the emergence of the omnichannel has been refreshing, it has not always been smooth. For some brands, the result is a hellish network of cables, tablets, and printers that leaves employees, guests, and IT employees frustrated. To tackle both the tablet hell and streamline communications with their guests, an increasing number of brands have turned to omnichannel partners to streamline the process and simplify marketing outreach. 

Regardless of how it is being done today, the future is leaning toward simplicity. Restaurant technology must adapt to accept orders coming in from everywhere, correctly combine them into one format, and then seamlessly get that information into the kitchen in an orderly fashion.

What Does an Omnichannel Approach Look Like?

When designing an omnichannel ordering approach, it’s best to recognize all the things it entails. If someone wanted to order food a decade ago, they either had to dine-in, call, or go through the drive-thru. Today, if someone wants pizza, all they need to do is text a pizza emoji to Domino’s, and a pizza will show up at their house 30 minutes later.  

Today, customers are ordering food from their favorite places in a variety of ways, ranging from in-person or over the phone, to mobile apps, QR (Quick Response) codes, third-party delivery apps like UberEats or Grubhub, at kiosks, through tablets, from their cars, and even through their at-home speakers. The main point is that guests are ordering from anywhere they want because they have the option to. And the best part? Brands that can reach their customers in innovative new ways are in a prime position to reap the rewards by expanding into new mediums and generate additional revenue.  

The restaurant industry has been leaning heavily into multi-channel outreach for several years now with growing success. Several brands doing it especially well, like Domino’s, have created large networks of seamlessly integrated marketing channels that make the customer journey easy, fun, and convenient. Their investment in providing guests with the best customer experience possible through analog and digital channels extends far beyond occasionally sending a push notification to a mobile device. 

For guests, increased interactivity with their favorite restaurants is a terrific way to keep them around. According to Bond, about 95% of loyalty program members want to interact with brands through new tech.

Omnichannel Marketing and Personalized Restaurant Outreach

So far, we’ve been discussing restaurant omnichannel from the customer side, but concepts can use the same omnichannel approach to keep in close contact with their guests using a variety of different touchpoints, no matter where they are or what they’re doing. Marketing in this regard has become easier than ever because instead of sending out a bunch of offers targeted at each specific device, brands can send out one message that looks and sounds awesome online and offline.  

According to Statista research, the average person is enrolled in 14 loyalty programs, but only is actively engaged in about 7 of them. What Omnichannel marketing does is help you create value-added outreach through the data you collect each day. Every piece of information a restaurant collects is fodder that can be used to create the ultimate guest experience, from birthdays and location data to time of day, season, and order history. Restaurants that wield this data correctly can build long-lasting relationships that also create better lifetime value (LTV) over the course of that relationship. 

Say your restaurant has an offer on breadsticks and you want to tell everyone. Ten years ago, you might buy a Facebook ad, put it on your website, and send an email. Three messages, three methods of outreach. With an omnichannel approach, that one message becomes amplified. It becomes a push notification, an email, a pop-up in your app, a banner on your site, an upsell message during a phone call, an ad on your in-store kiosks, and is added to third-party services. One message, countless ways of engaging with guests. The omnichannel makes putting together offers and other messaging easy because it combines many outreach methods into one powerful platform.  

Creating an omnichannel also lets you collect better data and use it more effectively to perform personalized outreach. Restaurants are constantly collecting data from their customers and can use that data to create unique engagement opportunities at scale. The omnichannel allows restaurants to create 1:1 marketing outreach targeted to their guests’ specific tastes or other tangible data points and support loyalty programs and better guest experiences.

How Can Restaurants Make the Omnichannel Work?

Still think having an omnichannel marketing strategy might not be worth it? Consider this – according to the CMO Council, more than 90% of consumers think an omnichannel experience is important or critical. Even more importantly, close to 30% of those surveyed believed companies should be available no matter where they are or when they need them.  

While any restaurant can create an omnichannel network, it usually isn’t very pretty and can cause issues because there are so many moving parts. Luckily, there are integration partners available to help them develop and maintain a high-quality omnichannel. These partners often assist with everything from online order management and data analytics to marketing campaigns and organizing orders via third-party companies.  

By taking advantage of the technology available to us now, it becomes easier to create engaging campaigns that turn first-time visitors into repeat customers and builds amazing relationships with your most excited fans.  

In the end, the omnichannel does a few things well. It helps increase overall revenue, build long-lasting loyalty, create better and more applicable upsell opportunities based on personalization, and generate a great return on investment compared to a singularly focused strategy.

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