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National Restaurant Association - Evolve or die – identify where you are on the digital journey

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Evolve or die – identify where you are on the digital journey Consumers now Discover, Evaluate, Buy and Engage in purchase decisions differently than they did before

More than 80 percent of U.S. adults have gone online this year to research and compare products -- including restaurant services. eMarketer estimates that 25 percent of purchases now start online and are completed in-store. For the restaurant industry, this tidbit of information is massively important: The digital consumer journey has evolved. Have you evolved with it?

Today’s consumers now Discover, Evaluate, Buy and Engage in purchase decisions differently than they did before. Whether it’s accepting digital payments or enhancing your loyalty program, your restaurant needs to take advantage of the digital tools consumers use. This puts you in front of customers as you innovate -- and it lets you capture revenue and save on expenses, too.

How they discover you is changing

Fifty-two percent of consumers surveyed search online and/or check the business website before visiting a new business, according to Visa’s Digital Transformation of SMBs. Traditionally, your restaurant relied on word-of-mouth marketing and perhaps sent a flier or two in the mail; nowadays, you need to do all that while maintaining a web presence too. Consumers are looking at social media ads and making their decisions based on reviews and information found on your website.

Evaluation is an experience

Today’s consumers want experiences that simplify their lives. That’s top of mind as they evaluate what to buy. They are reading online reviews, watching videos and browsing community forums. Those Tasty videos you can’t get enough of? Consumers are looking for their next favorite restaurant on those pages, too. For restaurant owners, digital evolution is happening both inside and outside of the restaurant..

Digital payments rule the buying process

Digital payments and online ordering are a must to stay on track. Changing consumer behaviors make it no surprise that 78 percent of consumers rank a digital payment method as their No. 1 preferred payment option. This is about more than a tableside POS. They want to be able to pay on their phones, too. For a restaurant owner, this means mobile online ordering is essential. Your restaurant POS is no longer a tool to accept payments, it’s a means to leverage customer information and build your engagement …

Consumers want to engage in new ways

… because customer loyalty is imperative in this digital evolution. “65% of consumers surveyed said they look to see if a business has a loyalty program prior to shopping at a store, visiting a restaurant, or trying out a service,” Visa reports. Today’s consumer wants a digital loyalty program, emails, and social media interactions. It’s about more than just face-to-face.

For Keva Juice Bar, digital engagement made the difference in the last economic downturn. “To communicate directly with their customers, Keva decided to use Square’s digital platform to give customers the option to receive e-mail marketing communications at time of payment,” according to Visa’s report. The digital reminders of reward status and consistent digital communication led to over 204,000 punches and nearly 7,000 rewards redeemed, the restaurant found.

How do you know if you’re behind? Look at your restaurant and consider the “Discover, Evaluate, Buy, Engage” framework of the consumer journey. Are you able to digitally respond to each phase? If the answer is no, it’s time to innovate. 

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