Written by Order on Chef: Within the next decade, cafés, from multi-location chains to independent artisan coffee shops, will see online ordering outstrip phone ordering, as owners become switched on to the benefits of going digital.

Consumers increasingly outsource parts of their lives to online services – everything from doing the weekly shop, to banking to organising the dog groomers, and of course, ordering food.

In fact, a recent study by the interactive Advertising Bureau found that two-thirds of media-savvy mobile users regularly place online food orders via their smartphone or tablet, with over half downloading restaurant-specific apps.

As well as being easy and convenient for the customer, café owners are reporting that offering online ordering has far outstripped their expectations, having a hugely positive impact on both operations and revenue.

Firstly, online ordering means that staff aren’t under pressure to answer phones at busy times, neglecting in-store diners and potentially losing orders altogether as customers either can’t get through or calls go unanswered.

Unsurprisingly, when phone orders are taken in a noisy environment, it’s easy for errors to be made. Online orders are much more accurate, leading to less confusion in the kitchen, less complaints and, all-importantly, greater customer satisfaction.

So often reliant on a lunch trade and quiet at other times, cafés are turned into a 24/7 business with online ordering. Customers can place orders at any time, from anywhere, ready to be picked up at a convenient time during business hours.

It’s good news for the bottom line too: when customers order online, they order more. They are able to see the whole menu, spend more time choosing their order, have access to much more information about the food items, and are tempted by special offers.

Cafés with established online ordering platforms also report a lot more impulse purchases with online ordering and a greater opportunity for upselling: a side dish for an extra £2 – when you’re hungry and it’s right in front of you – becomes an easy decision.

With customers receiving better service both in-store and online, staff being freed up from phoned-in orders, and with tech-savvy consumers ordering more, online ordering seems set to become a standard in cafés across the globe.

Written by Roisin Stuart, Order on Chef.  

Exhibiting at lunch! 2017 on stand F35.

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