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BizReport : Mobile Marketing : July 16, 2012

Electronic Ordering: Could your restaurant cope?

Online and mobile ordering is becoming so popular that some restaurants offering this channel are finding their kitchens overloaded and are setting up a dedicated line to deal with the influx of orders.

by Helen Leggatt

cu_logo_160_red_on_white1.pngAlmost half of U.S. consumers have ordered food via online or mobile, according to a new report released by Cornell University School of Hospitality Administration. This is due to an increasing adoption of electronic ordering via text, mobile and online, by restaurants across the U.S.

The advantages of allowing consumers to order via online or mobile are many, including a lift in sales by up-selling, improving the customer experience, and storing consumer data to enable easy, one-click orders for repeat business.

Fast-food outlets, both chains and independents, have been quick to adopt electronic ordering, mostly via online channels. The results speak for themselves - 10% of business now comes from online orders. Almost 30% of restaurants say electronic ordering has increased the volume of their orders and 27% say they've improved their service as a result.

However, restaurants that are considering allowing online and mobile ordering need to be prepared. Some restaurants are struggling with the increase in business brought about by providing online ordering. Almost a quarter (23%) of kitchens reported being overloaded with orders, particularly during peak hours.

The solution is to create separate fulfilment lines for consumers that have pre-ordered online or via mobile. Cornell's research found that 6% have already put this into action. Mexican-grill restaurant Chipotle employs a second, back-of-house food line dedicated exclusively to fulfilling online orders.

The use of mobile apps is growing, with 16% of restaurants having one. However, of those, just 35.2% of those restaurants provide an app with order-placing capabilities.

Cornell's report, "Online, Mobile, and Text Food Ordering in the U.S. Restaurant Industry", concludes that "electronic ordering offers great potential for the restaurant industry - and almost certainly will become a feature that most customers expect to have available to them. Setting aside customer expectations, the advantages of electronic ordering (improved order accuracy, improved productivity, and enhanced customer relationship management abilities) will probably offset the costs and operational challenges for most restaurant types".

Tags: business management, electronic ordering, food industry, mobile marketing, mobile orders, online ordering, online sales, restaurant, restaurant industry

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