How To Optimize 2021’s Biggest Online Ordering Moments for Restaurants
In 2020, more than 45 million Americans used a food delivery app, accounting for a 25% increase since the previous year. With many markets closed or operating at limited capacities for indoor dining, online ordering will continue to be an important channel for restaurants looking to drive additional revenue. Popular events and holidays, which typically would result in a reservation spike, will now take place at home as consumers look for new ways to make the most of these occasions.
Don’t leave revenue on the table — now is the time to optimize your online ordering presence. Read on for tips on how to promote offerings across your channels, prepare your culinary team for demand spikes and implement new marketing strategies that drive results.
Top delivery and takeout events & holidays of 2021
The first quarter of 2021 will be busy when it comes to holidays and events. Here’s a snapshot of the top online ordering moments for delivery and pick up for the first few months of the year.
The GRAMMY’s – Sunday, January 31
Super Bowl – Sunday, February 7
Chinese New Year – Friday, February 12
Valentine’s Day – Sunday, February 14
President’s Day – Monday, February 15
Golden Globes – Sunday, February 28
Mother’s Day (UK) – Sunday, March 14
March Madness – Sunday, March 14 – Monday, April 5
St. Patrick’s Day – Wednesday, March 17
Passover – Saturday, March 27 – Sunday, April 4
Easter – Sunday, April 4
Academy Awards – Sunday, April 25
Streamline your pickup procedures
With a rise in online ordering offerings, customers have more choices than ever before when it comes to where to spend their money. This means that restaurant operators need to ‘wow’ from the first interaction to ensure diners become repeat orderers. When it comes to your restaurant’s pickup procedures, make sure that guests feel safe and comfortable. This could include having a dedicated ‘greeter’ when customers arrive or having a designated pickup area that helps create a contactless experience for diners. Plus, make sure your customers have a quick and easy way to contact you with any questions or concerns. Repeat customers spend approximately seven times more than one-time purchasers, so you’ll want to ensure the best guest experience from the first interaction.
Most importantly, invest in technology that enables the entire ordering, payment and pickup process to be done seamlessly and virtually. When looking for new technology partners to facilitate online ordering, you should look for platforms that not only enable you to own and leverage the diner data, but that help you do better business, faster. This could include a platform that allows diners to input car details for curbside pickup, pay in advance to facilitate speedier pickup times, or one with SMS functionality to let diners know their order is ready.
Update your menu with holiday specials
Every holiday has special menu items that diners want to eat. Whether it’s dim sum for Chinese New Year, or pulled pork slides for Super Bowl Sunday, the key to increasing orders on holidays is to curate your offering. With the rise in online ordering this year due to COVID, it’s crucial to get creative with your offerings to drive revenue.
No in-person events allowed in your market? No problem. Offer up Do-It-Yourself kits for the major holidays featuring fan favorites from your menu — like a famous spaghetti and chocolate cake for Valentine’s Day, or cocktail kits for at-home Academy Award viewing parties. There are many ways to get creative this holiday season:
Boost Profits with Bundles: Add large meal kits or beverage bundles to your takeout menu to create a new revenue stream for at-home gatherings
Brand Your Offerings: Create dishes that bring your signature hospitality into people’s home, like serving a signature fried chicken in a branded bucket for Super Bowl, or a sommelier-selected wine and cheese pairing for Valentine’s Day
Make Ordering Seamless: When creating packages, make them easy for diners to find on your online ordering platform. Create new menu categories such a “Super Bowl Specials” or “Sweet V’day Treats” to make it simple for guests to search and order
*PRO TIP* Make your packages exclusive. Limited demand = more desirability, so promote your packages accordingly. Instead of offering packages to everyone, offer a pre-release of your online ordering packages via social media or to a curated email list of your best customers. The more buzz you can build, the more likely you are to sell out.
Promote your offerings across all digital channels
The secret to increasing your sales is no secret at all. It’s all about getting the word out to your customers. Upcoming holidays and events are essential moments in time to promote takeaway offerings across all your digital channels. This includes your website, online menus, social channels and to your customer database via email. Promotions could include:
Website popups with clear call-to-action buttons for every diner visiting your page
Digital directory listings, like Yelp, to promote your restaurant at no cost
Social media posts and stories highlighting your offerings to followers
Paid social ads with direct links to help promote your packages to your target audience
Email campaigns that promote your holiday promos to your customer database
*PRO TIP* Don’t forget that visuals are key in capturing the attention of future diners. Schedule a photoshoot of holiday offerings or use high-quality stock images for your digital content.
Leverage your existing marketing toolkit
Customer retention is significantly cheaper than new customer acquisition. With this in mind, it’s crucial to leverage your existing marketing toolkit to promote to your customer. Open for on- or off-premise dining? You have endless options for promotion including:
Table tents and check presenters to promote online ordering offers — like holiday takeaway specials and packages or digital events
Promotional flyers in to-go bags promoting your direct online ordering platform and incentivizing repeat orders with a special marketing offer
Sidewalk A-frames and outdoor signage to improve visibility to passersby, whether drivers or pedestrians
*PRO TIP* Take a walk around your neighborhood. Focal points including street lamps and neighboring business windows are opportunities to promote your restaurant. Reach out to other local business owners to offer cross-promotions that will help boost your visibility to locals.
Increase profits with direct online ordering
Every online order counts. But direct ordering options are more valuable for your business. Why? Because direct orders help you to:
Collect more data on customers that enables you to build a deeper, long-term relationship with your diners
Avoid third-party commission fees of upwards of 30 percent, boosting profits to your bottom line
Increase operational efficiency by giving you all the tools you need in one place, versus across siloed front of house systems
The first step in increasing direct online orders is to find a technology partner that integrates with your third-party channels. This helps you to funnel all orders and reservations through one system while enabling greater data capture that can be used for future marketing. Once you have selected a platform, place your direct online ordering link across all channels, especially your Google My Business listing. There is no reason to pay third-party fees for customers already looking to order from your restaurant for special occasions and holidays. Finally, continue to educate your diners on the importance of ordering direct. Use your social media, email marketing and other channels to incentivize your customers to order directly from your restaurant.