In the restaurant Red Zone: Running the last 20 yards in the pick-up game
By Scott Marentay, president and chief operating officer, HyperActive Technologies
Curbside digital displays are helping restaurants score big points with customers, who come onsite to pick up their mobile or online order.
In today’s on-the-go, on-demand society, time-starved consumers are hungrier than ever to pick up food at a restaurant and eat it elsewhere. A Statista poll (2013) revealed that 24 percent of those surveyed order take-out food two or three times a week, and another survey indicated that 34 percent of adults consider take-out to be essential to their way of life. Once the purview of quick service, pizza and Chinese restaurants, take-out service is quickly becoming a must-have offering for all restaurants. Even supermarkets are seeing a rise in revenue coming from their prepared food section. To compete effectively and win business, restaurants are turning to online ordering and mobile apps to differentiate their brand and offer customers more convenience, more meal customization and better customer service.
But brands are also finding that there’s much more to building a great take-out business than offering digital ordering and payment. Many of the restaurant reviews on Yelp and reviews of mobile apps on ITunes or Google Play suggest that brands are struggling to deliver service excellence on the back end. Across the board, it appears that more attention needs to be paid to what happens when the guest arrives onsite to pick up the order. Even when the online or mobile technology is praised for having all the bells and whistles the user wants, the majority of low ratings and consumer complaints focus on the fact that food is not ready when the guest arrives, long wait times are common and customers are confused about how the pick up process works. Unfortunately, research has proven that once a patron has had a negative experience with a brand, they are not likely to return. Clearly, the success of mobile and online ordering can only be achieved when the digital strategy has an equally well-thought out plan to support pick-up or curbside delivery.
It’s for this reason that brands are working to improve their take-out services with outdoor digital displays that compliment the online or mobile experience.
How it works
Outdoor digital displays can play a critical role in the on-site pick-up process. Placed strategically at the property entrance and positioned at designated parking spots, outdoor displays utilize beacon and Bluetooth technology to identify the customer as soon as they arrive on the property and match them with their mobile order. The software embedded in the display immediately will alert the kitchen that the guest has arrived. Once parked in a spot with a digital display, guests are greeted by name and their order is displayed along with confirmation of payment and a countdown to when the order will be ready. The display can suggest additional items that compliment the order as well as promote other merchandising or event information. While waiting in their car, guests view engaging full motion graphics providing infotainment while they are waiting. Finally, the signage alerts guests that the order is ready, informing them to "come and get it" or wait for car-side delivery.
The benefits of using outdoor digital displays to compliment, orchestrate and improve the digital ordering process are many. An outdoor digital display:
- Creates a prominent welcome to customers who choose to go curbside
- Provides essential matching of customer, order and arrival time
- Delivers a personalized experience for the guest
- Increases consumer confidence by displaying the order for last minute confirmation or additions
- Reduces perceived wait time by creating an engaged brand experience
- Promotes consistent brand message
- Provide millenials with the personal, interactive experience they desire
- Creates opportunity for co-branding advertising partnerships and revenue
- Creates the right outdoor ambiance with bright, attractive signs that add to the location’s exterior trade dress
- Records data needed to improve service times and operational efficiency
Too often, the set-up of curbside and take-out service areas communicates that the restaurant brand cares more about customers who dine-in than those who choose pick-up. Outdoor digital displays will transform the entire curbside and pick-up experience and help brands build a competitive advantage that welcomes guests both inside and out. Those brands that can deliver great food and a great experience — even if the consumer never enters the restaurant, will reap the greatest benefits. Ultimately, It's the last 20 yards — what the National Football League calls the "red zone" — that will determine whether or not a brand will win in the pick-up game.