Online ordering is crucial for restaurants, with the global food delivery market valued at over $150 billion. Customers seek convenience and personalization, necessitating technological advancements. This article highlights innovative trends shaping the future of restaurant online ordering.
Online ordering has become a major revenue stream for the restaurant industry, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. According to McKinsey, the global food delivery market has more than tripled since 2017 and is worth more than $150 billion. Consumers are increasingly expecting convenience, speed, and personalization when ordering food online, and restaurants need to keep up with the latest technological advancements to meet their demands. In this article, we will explore some of the most innovative trends and solutions that are shaping the future of online ordering for restaurants.
Voice ordering is a technology that allows customers to order food using voice commands on their smartphones or smart speakers. This can save time and hassle for customers who don’t want to type or scroll through menus, and can also create a more natural and engaging experience. Voice ordering can also benefit restaurants by reducing errors, increasing order accuracy, and boosting customer loyalty.
Domino’s is one of the first pizza chains to offer voice ordering through its app and website. Customers can use voice commands to place orders, track their delivery status, and reorder their favorites. Domino’s also partnered with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant to enable voice ordering through smart speakers.
Starbucks launched its voice ordering feature in 2017, allowing customers to order and pay for their drinks and food using voice commands on its app or through Amazon Alexa. The feature uses artificial intelligence (AI) to understand customer preferences, suggest personalized items, and remember previous orders.
Chatbot integration is another technology that enables customers to order food through conversational interfaces on messaging apps or websites. Chatbots are software programs that use natural language processing (NLP) and AI to simulate human conversations and provide relevant responses. Chatbots can offer several advantages for online ordering, such as:
Convenience: Chatbots can allow customers to order food anytime and anywhere, without having to download an app or visit a website. Customers can simply use their preferred messaging app, such as Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, or WeChat, to chat with a bot and place their orders.
Engagement: Chatbots can create a more interactive and personalized experience for customers, by using emojis, gifs, images, videos, and other multimedia elements. Chatbots can also use data analysis and machine learning to provide recommendations, offers, feedback, and loyalty rewards based on customer behavior and preferences.
Efficiency: Chatbots can help restaurants save time and resources by automating repetitive tasks, such as taking orders, answering FAQs, confirming payments, and sending notifications. Chatbots can also handle multiple customers at once, reducing wait times and improving customer satisfaction.
Burger King launched its chatbot feature in 2016, allowing customers to order food through Facebook Messenger. Customers can browse the menu, customize their orders, pay with PayPal or credit card, and track their delivery status through the chatbot. Burger King also uses the chatbot to send promotional messages and coupons to customers.
Pizza Hut introduced its chatbot feature in 2016 as well, enabling customers to order pizza through Facebook Messenger and Twitter. Customers can use text or voice commands to place orders, view deals, access previous orders, and get customer service. Pizza Hut also uses the chatbot to engage with customers through trivia games and polls.
Artificial intelligence is a broad term that refers to the ability of machines or software to perform tasks that normally require human intelligence, such as learning, reasoning, and decision making. AI can help online ordering for restaurants in various ways, such as:
Personalization: AI can use data analysis and machine learning to understand customer preferences, behavior, and feedback, and provide personalized recommendations, offers, and loyalty rewards. AI can also create dynamic menus and prices based on customer demand, inventory, and seasonality.
Optimization: AI can help optimize restaurant operations, such as inventory management, food waste reduction, kitchen scheduling, delivery routing, and quality control. AI can also help improve customer service, such as order accuracy, speed of service, and complaint resolution.
Innovation: AI can help create new products and services for online ordering, such as voice ordering, chatbot integration, facial recognition payment, and food scanning. AI can also help generate creative content for online marketing, such as images, videos, and slogans.
Flippy is an AI-enabled robot chef that can prepare, cook, and plate up food in restaurant kitchens. Flippy uses sensors and cameras to monitor the cooking process and ensure food quality and safety. Flippy can also learn new recipes and skills over time.
TellSpec: TellSpec is a scanner that uses AI to decode the food on a plate at a molecular level, providing detailed information on calories, macronutrients, and allergens. TellSpec can help customers make informed choices about their food orders and help restaurants comply with food safety regulations.
Virtual reality is a technology that creates an immersive and interactive simulation of a three-dimensional environment using devices such as headsets, gloves, or controllers. Virtual reality can enhance online ordering for restaurants by:
Visualization: Virtual reality can help customers visualize the food they are ordering online in a realistic and appealing way. Customers can also explore the restaurant’s ambiance and atmosphere before placing their orders.
Engagement: Virtual reality can create a more engaging and memorable experience for customers who order online. Customers can interact with the food they order, such as customizing their toppings or slicing their pizza. Customers can also play games or watch videos related to the food they order.
Education: Virtual reality can help educate customers about the food they order online. Customers can learn about the ingredients, origin, nutrition, and preparation of their food. Customers can also experience different cultures and cuisines through virtual reality.
Kabaq is a virtual reality platform that helps restaurants create 3D models of their food for online ordering. Customers can view the food in realistic detail on their smartphones or tablets using augmented reality (AR) or on their VR headsets using virtual reality. Kabaq also provides analytics and insights to help restaurants improve their online sales.
Pizza Hut partnered with Oculus Rift to create a virtual reality app that lets customers order pizza in a simulated environment. Customers can customize their pizza using hand gestures and voice commands. Customers can also play games or watch videos while waiting for their pizza to be delivered.
Sublimotion is a gastronomic show that combines virtual reality, 360-degree projections, and multisensory stimulation to create an immersive dining experience. Customers can enjoy a 20-course menu while traveling through different scenarios, such as a submarine, a garden, or a spaceship.
Mobile wallets and crypto
Mobile wallets and crypto are technologies that enable digital payments using smartphones or other devices. Mobile wallets are apps that store payment information such as credit cards or bank accounts on a device. Crypto are digital currencies that use encryption techniques to secure transactions and control the creation of new units. Mobile wallets and crypto can facilitate online ordering for restaurants by:
Convenience: Mobile wallets and crypto can make online payments faster and easier for customers who order food online. Customers do not need to enter their payment details every time they order or carry cash or cards with them. Customers can also use biometric authentication such as fingerprints or face recognition to verify their payments.
Security: Mobile wallets and crypto can offer more security and privacy for online payments than traditional methods. Mobile wallets use encryption and tokenization to protect payment information from hackers or fraudsters. Crypto use blockchain technology to create a decentralized ledger that records transactions without intermediaries or central authorities.
Innovation: Mobile wallets and crypto can enable new features and services for online ordering that are not possible with conventional methods. For example, mobile wallets can offer loyalty rewards or discounts based on customer behavior or location. Crypto can enable peer-to-peer transactions or smart contracts that automate payments based on predefined conditions.
Some examples of mobile wallets and crypto platforms for online ordering are:
Apple Pay is a mobile wallet app that lets customers pay for their online orders using their iPhone or Apple Watch. Apple Pay uses NFC technology to communicate with compatible terminals or devices. Apple Pay also integrates with Siri to enable voice payments.
BitPay is a crypto platform that lets customers pay for their online orders using Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies. BitPay converts crypto into fiat currency at the point of sale and transfers it to the merchant’s bank account. BitPay also provides invoices and receipts for each transaction.
Square is a mobile wallet app that lets customers pay for their online orders using their smartphone or tablet. Square uses QR codes to scan payment information from the device’s screen or camera. Square also offers loyalty programs and cashback rewards for customers who use its app.
Social media integration
Social media integration is a technology that connects online ordering platforms with social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, or WhatsApp. Social media integration can help online ordering for restaurants by:
Awareness: Social media integration can help restaurants reach new customers and increase their brand awareness by showcasing their food and services on popular social media channels. Restaurants can also use social media to share customer reviews, ratings, and testimonials to build trust and credibility.
Engagement: Social media integration can help restaurants engage with their existing customers and encourage repeat orders by offering discounts, coupons, or loyalty rewards. Restaurants can also use social media to communicate with customers, answer questions, collect feedback, and resolve issues.
Conversion: Social media integration can help restaurants convert their social media followers into online orders by enabling direct ordering from their social media pages or posts. Customers can simply click on a link, scan a QR code, or send a message to place their orders without leaving the social media platform.
Deliverect is a platform that helps restaurants manage their online orders from various channels, including social media. Deliverect integrates with Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp, allowing customers to order food directly from these platforms. Deliverect also syncs with restaurant POS systems and delivery platforms to streamline the order process.
Burger King launched a social media ordering feature in 2018, allowing customers to order food through Facebook Messenger. Customers can use the Burger King bot to browse the menu, customize their orders, pay with PayPal or credit card, and track their delivery status through the chatbot. Burger King also uses the chatbot to send promotional messages and coupons to customers.
Pizza Hut introduced a social media ordering feature in 2017, enabling customers to order pizza through Instagram and Twitter. Customers can use hashtags or emojis to place orders, view deals, access previous orders, and get customer service. Pizza Hut also uses the chatbot to engage with customers through trivia games and polls.
Online ordering is a booming trend in the restaurant industry that is expected to grow even more in the future. By adopting the latest technological advancements such as voice ordering, chatbot integration, artificial intelligence, virtual reality, mobile wallets and crypto, and social media integration, restaurants can enhance their online ordering capabilities and offer a more convenient, engaging, and personalized experience to their customers.
However, online ordering also poses some challenges and opportunities for restaurants, such as managing delivery operations, optimizing costs and margins, complying with regulations, and differentiating from competitors. Therefore, restaurants need to carefully evaluate their online ordering strategies and platforms and choose the ones that best suit their needs and goals. Online ordering is not only a way to survive the pandemic but also a way to thrive in the post-pandemic era.