11 Best Ways a Restaurant Can Go Digital

 In Operations

Today’s restaurant guests are hungry for great food, good times…and technology? Yes, 73% of diners agree: tech improves their restaurant experience.

Beyond delighting guests, going digital can streamline operations and supercharge profits. Four in 5 restauranteurs believe that tech increases sales – and provides a competitive advantage.

Ready to dive into the digital world? From TV marketing to touchscreen menus, online ordering to loyalty apps, these are the 11 best ways a restaurant can go digital.

The #1 Best Way to Go Digital – Implement a Digital POS System

This is number one for a reason. A digital POS system can function as the heart of your operations: powering and simplifying everything.

1) Build the Right Foundation: Use a Digital POS System with Restaurant Tablets

Today, the top digital POS systems – like NCR Silver, Toast, and Square – include mobile capabilities.

That means you can use mobile devices like touchscreen tablets to take orders and even process payments. For maximum ROI, give guests even more control. Put restaurant tablets in their hands so they can order from a digital menu, securely pay, and even play games. Throughout the guest visit, some tablets even power custom tablet marketing and TV marketing messages.

Maximize In-Venue Marketing Opportunities: From TV Marketing to Loyalty Programs

The right digital tools – loyalty apps, TV marketing, and tablet marketing – can drive sales within your four walls.

2) Launch a Loyalty App

Want 81% of guests to continue doing business with you? Create an awesome loyalty program. Today, “awesome” means mobile: Over half of the 81% of customers would prefer your loyalty program on their smartphone.

It’s easier (and more affordable) than ever to build a mobile loyalty app. Without knowing any code, you can create your own app with online app makers like Appie Pie and AppInstitute. Or, check with your POS provider. Some, like Toast, offer loyalty apps.

The key is to get guests to sign up for your loyalty app when they’re on premises. That’s where TV marketing comes in…

3) Try TV Marketing…

In a sales slump? Change the channel on your profitability with TV marketing.

Chances are, you already have TVs in your venue. With the right TV marketing partner, your TVs can turn into customizable, eye-catching digital signage in a few clicks. In addition to inviting guests to sign up for a loyalty app, many restaurants use digital signage to promote high-margin menu items. Why? It’s all about the impulse buy.

One study found that after viewing menu items promoted on digital signage, 70% of adults made an “unexpected purchase.”

Not only does digital signage drive sales, it’s a visual cue to guests that you’re embracing the tech they crave. With dynamic graphics, TV marketing creates an exciting, upbeat atmosphere.

4) …and Tablet Marketing

Meet the cousin of TV marketing: tablet marketing. If you bring in restaurant tablets for guests, you can easily configure digital ads to run on tablets.

Like TV marketing, tablet marketing drives impulse buys. Immediately after seeing tablet marketing messages, guests can order promoted menu items right on the tablet. Savvy restaurants use both TV marketing and tablet marketing to promote:

  • A surprise extension of happy hour
  • “Super” limited time offers, like $2 craft beers for 20 minutes. You can pre-schedule TV marketing and tablet marketing to run at set dayparts
  • Upcoming events at your restaurant
  • A free appetizer or dessert for joining your loyalty or email program
  • New revenue source! Some venues resell their tablet marketing and TV marketing ad space to other local businesses.

From an operational standpoint, TV marketing and tablet marketing deliver serious cost savings. You eliminate print costs for table tents, posters, and banners. Plus, you can make real-time changes to digital signage – both TV marketing and tablet marketing. If you sell out of a special dessert? No worries, it’s simple to stop the ad.

Digitally Enhanced Dining

Let’s address the elephant in the dining room…Bringing tech to the table won’t depersonalize the guest experience. Tools like TV marketing and loyalty apps only enhance what’s already great about your restaurant.

In fact, the latest tech can amplify the personal element that your restaurant is known for. Here’s how:

5) A Personal Touch with Touchscreen Menus

TV marketing and tablet marketing aren’t the only benefits of going digital with restaurant tablets. You can bring your menu to life, giving guests more options than even your best server (or printed menu) could present.

Guests can click on each menu item to see extras and add-ons, so they can build out their perfect burger or salad. It’s a personal experience that pays off, especially for millennials: 54% of them are more loyal to businesses that empower them to create something unique to them.

The best restaurant tablets utilize customer facing ordering technology, so guests can order – and reorder – from your digital menu at their pace. Most restaurants report an increase in sales – and order accuracy. Plus, your waitstaff has more time to bond and chat with guests, instead of running orders to the kitchen.

6) Digital Payment: “Put it On My Tab(let)”

When guests are finished with their meal, they want to pay their own way – on their time. For 39% of the smartphone-carrying crowd, that means making NFC payments. To accept NFC payments like ApplePay and SamsungPay, you need restaurant tablets equipped with an NFC payment reader.

For less tech-savvy guests, they can simply swipe their credit card or insert an EMV (“chip”) card directly into the restaurant tablet. Their card stays with them at the table – so there’s no worries about an unsavory server taking their information. Again, your servers are freed up from running cards to the POS station. Instead, they can focus on building guest relationships.

Elevate the Guest Experience

So, you’ve implemented TV marketing, launched a loyalty app, and brought tablets to the table. Go the extra mile. Delight guests with digital games and best-in-class wi-fi.

7) Today’s Arcade is Tableside

Skip the old school arcade. It takes up space, and pulls guests away from the table (and the chance for more sales). But you can still put fun at every guest’s fingertips…

The same restaurant tablets that power digital menus, order, payment, and TV marketing, also serve up 24/7 access to a digital arcade. For example, Buzztime tablets put trivia, card games, and even poker in the hands of every diner.

On-tablet entertainment is the best way to add value to the guest visit. Wait time becomes play time. Games are social, and bring everyone together – from strangers at the bar, to big families out for dinner.

It’s not just fun and games, a Nielson study showed that Buzztime on-tablet entertainment can drive spending by 21% more table check on average.

8) Why Free Wi-Fi is a Win-Win

It’s a fact. Guests love free wi-fi.

But they want it to be secure, and fast. So, use a reputable service like Yelp Wi-Fi. You’ll get something out of the deal, too! Yelp Wi-Fi captures guest emails, birthdays, and other information in exchange for use of your wi-fi. Yelp states that up to 80% of guests return more frequently if you offer them free wi-fi.

Too many restaurants deploy free wi-fi but skip one important step: alerting guests! Encourage them to use your free wi-fi with tablet marketing and TV marketing messages.

Hit Refresh on Your Website

Most restaurateurs think of their website as a marketing platform, but it’s a direct sales machine with these 3 add-ons.

9) Online Ordering

Just like TV marketing, online ordering is another digital win-win: streamlining operations and wowing guests. Free your staff from taking lengthy phone orders and let your website do the work. In fact, guests would prefer it that way. A recent study by Fast Casual found that 93 percent of guests ordering for a group would rather place an online order – instead of calling.

Your digital POS system may have an online ordering component, or check with your website developer.

Don’t forget! When guests are dining with you, remind them that you offer online ordering with TV marketing and tablet marketing.

10) 3rd Party Delivery

Noticing a trend here? Guests want to do things their way. Sometimes that means staying home – and getting your food delivered to their doorstep. Worried about the extra overhead of hiring drivers? Instead, deploy one of these 3rd party delivery services.

Also explore putting your menu on GrubHub.com, a 3rd party website where guests can order, pay, and select delivery for your food. As an added bonus, GrubHub integrates with POS systems like Breadcrumb and Micros. GrubHub claims restaurants see a 50% increase in monthly orders after a year. Again, alert guests you’re on GrubHub with in-venue TV marketing.

11) Online Reservations

Last but not least, going digital means accepting online reservations on your website.

In 2017, Toast POS asked 2,000 diners which technological feature was most important to their dining experience. Online reservations came out on top – with only 5% of respondents stating it “was not important.”

Just as many POS systems include tablets and TV marketing tools, some offer plug-and-play online ordering systems for your website. Or, ask your POS provider which 3rd party integrations they accept. For example, OpenTable, a guest favorite for booking online reservations, plays nicely with most digital POS systems.

A little tech goes a long way in the restaurant biz. You don’t need to tackle all 11 steps at once. Focus on urgent needs. Looking to increase per-check sales? Try TV marketing to drive impulse buys. Struggling with repeat business? Launch that mobile loyalty app. With the right tech, you can bring a new level of efficiency and profitability to your operation – and delight guests along the way.

About Author:

Trusted by thousands of bars and restaurants in North America since 1984, Buzztime integrates trivia, card, sports games and live events with innovative tablet technology. While we don’t take ourselves too seriously, this is pretty serious business.

Don’t forget to check out even more on how you could improve cash flow with “What Surge Pricing Could Mean For Your Restaurant.”

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