Almost 18 months on from our first wave of lockdowns, small business owners continue to battle restrictions alongside navigating shifts in customer behaviour brought about by the pandemic.
Many hospitality businesses have been forced, again, to shut in-venue services, leaving businesses with no choice but to offer takeaway and delivery services in order to stay afloat.
Understanding how to get the most out of digital platforms, and the value a well-connected, intuitive technology stack can bring is crucial to remaining profitable in this new era of hospitality.
Here are a few things business owners should keep in mind, before setting, or re-evaluating their strategy:
Choosing a delivery platform
Don’t stop at one, turn them all on! With the right technology in place, your POS system can become a single source of truth for your orders, your menu and your inventory – which means there’s no real difficulty or opportunity cost to activate multiple platforms.
In an era where most customers aren’t loyal to a single platform, being available across more platforms broadens your reach. If a new platform has customers wanting to buy from you, great!
Finding new customers
Customers are priceless; you can’t afford to NOT have them, so you have to be prepared to pay whatever it costs to attract them. If customers aren’t walking in your door (or can’t walk in your door!), you need digital tools and tactics to go and find them online.
As a small hospitality business owner, digital marketing might not be your area of expertise, but for the delivery platforms it is. Let them do their job of acquiring customers for you; and focus on what you do best – making customers happy so that they become loyal regulars.
The key to profitability is to ensure that you have your own online ordering channel set up, so that when you acquire a new customer from one of the aggregators you can convert them to a loyal fan and encourage them to buy from you directly.
You also need to make it easy to buy. Resist any temptation to give people lots of choices; they will be overwhelmed and abandon their purchase. Offer a small menu with clear sections that allow people to easily understand what “the done thing” is at your restaurant. And remember, if they want fries, they’ll order them, you don’t need to discount items people always want.
In general, don’t be afraid to charge enough to cover your costs! People are less price sensitive online than you might think, the data actually tells us that the average online sale is at least 25 per cent higher than in-store orders.
Location is a significant factor in determining the delivery options available to your business. You need a certain critical mass of population density to provide a big enough customer, merchant, and driver pool for it to be a good experience for any of the parties. Density is your friend.
In certain areas where the density isn’t sufficient to attract the big aggregators, localised options exist – and if you’re considering managing deliveries yourself, there are some great tech options available to help streamline the management of your delivery fleet.
Staff training and coordination is, in my opinion, the most important factor in ensuring it all comes together. You are aspiring to turn every new customer into a raving fan,by delivering an exceptional experience every single time.
Your staff need to be empowered with the best possible systems and training to be able to manage their production queues and timings. This way, items are ready together, are packaged beautifully, go out immediately to the waiting driver; and thereby have the maximum possible chance of reaching the customer in top condition.
To continue working through extended lockdowns, partnering with a variety of delivery services can prove to be an effective way to reach more customers and generate more orders. Having the technology in place to centralise your orders, and enable customers to order directly from you is the ticket to profitability and longevity: ensuring you’ll be there, front and centre, when the hospitality industry has the chance to re-open.