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National Restaurant Association - 6 tips to get order-ahead tech right

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6 tips to get order-ahead tech right

When the line at your restaurant is out the door, some customers may choose to dine elsewhere in an attempt to get food faster. Order-ahead technology, or mobile ordering, allows customers to place their order, pay and select a pick-up time that works for them using a mobile app or website. Upon arrival to your restaurant, they can grab their meals and go about their days. Starbucks, Sweetgreen and Chipotle are just a few restaurants that have made use of order-ahead tech, partnering with providers such as Tillster, Monkey Media, Aloha and OLO to integrate this feature into their apps.

Here are six tips for mastering order-ahead:

  • Ensure the ordering procedure within your app or website makes sense. Customers’ experience with your mobile ordering platform should be simple, seamless and intuitive. After you build your app or website, walk through ordering each menu item as though you were a customer. The sequence in which you prompt customers to add options, customize the meal and complete the order is key to a pleasant customer experience.
  • Offer one-click ordering. Some apps have the capability to cache a customer's favorite locations and orders, so he or she can place an order quickly. Try to make your app or website a convenient resource, similar to how Uber made hailing a car a one-click affair.
  • Provide accurate wait times. A wait time that is too early or too late could result in a cold meal or an angry customer. It may take a bit of trial and error before you get your wait times down to a science, but a good estimate is key to repeat order-ahead business.
  • Display in-store signage. When first-time orderers arrive at your restaurant, they're going to be confused about where to go. Guide order-ahead customers through your restaurant by prominently labeling the pick-up zone. This eliminates guesswork and increases comfort for both customers and staff. In your app or on your website, also indicate the pick-up location so customers feel like they know where they’re going.
  • Institute dedicated prep lines. When there’s a specified prep line for order-ahead meals, employees can address those orders quickly and efficiently. Meanwhile, another prep line can prepare orders received in-store.
  • Verify that the orders are correct. Be sure each customer walks away with the meal he or she ordered, not someone else’s lunch. Reduce error rate by assigning an employee to read and confirm the order with customer before they take it away. Or, you can have the order printed on a ticket and attached to the meal itself.

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