Business and Operations
Widening your digital door
By Colleen Cross
Providing digital ways for customers to access your menu can be a win-win for Canadian restaurants and their customers, shared the NPD Group’s Robert Carter during an industry webinar.
Technological ordering tools can help reduce labour costs, increase sales, encourage more restaurant-customer interaction and please customers, said Carter, who is the executive director of food service for the NPD Group.
In a session entitled “Inside Innovation: Digital Influence at Foodservice,” he encouraged Canadian restaurants to provide customers multiple ways to order their food.
“Convenience changes behaviour,” he said. “Knowledge changes behaviour. Customers are looking for a ‘Digital Door’ and those operators who have one are benefiting.”
Traffic to restaurants in Canada is flat, whereas traffic for customers using digital means or devices is increasing, he explained, adding that these online customers spend more money and order more items. Catering to digital users is a way to grow in this flat market.
Using technological tools to create new “Visit situations” may reduce your labour costs, increase your sales, encourage more customer interaction and result in greater customer satisfaction, he said.
Carter cited some compelling statistics from comScore and the Canadian Internet Registration Authority to demonstrate that online and digital ordering is picking up speed in Canada: Canada represents only 0.5 per cent of the world’s population but it is home to 10 per cent of the world’s Internet users and 87 per cent of Canadian households are connected to the Internet.
Digital traffic accounts for only two per cent of restaurant traffic but it is growing at a rate of 20 per cent yearly, he said. It includes the highest proportion of millennial customers, higher average eater and party cheques, and more items per customer, according to NPD’s own CREST research.
Millennials want multiple touch points and the ability to share experiences, he said.
Carter gave Domino’s Pizza as an example of a brand providing many order options, among them texting, tweeting, cellphone, tablet, TV, smartwatch, emoji, the GPS order tracker and its own proprietary app.
In conclusion, he reminded participants that technology is here to stay and will affect restaurants and food service more and more.
The good news is it should create a bigger market, or “pie,” he said. Giving your customers more options for reaching you can let independents in for a bigger share of that bigger pie.
The NPD Group has a Digital Door strategy team that offers advice to businesses small and large.