Restaurant owners should use their online ordering capabilities, loyalty programs, and POS technology to maximize ordering around high-traffic takeout events

In the age of the COVID-19 pandemic, big sporting events may no longer mean large group gatherings and heavy on-site restaurant traffic like they once did, but restaurant operators still have the opportunity to boost revenue during the traditionally slow winter months. As the popularity of take-out, third-party delivery and online ordering continue to grow, high-sales events like March Madness offer restaurant owners the chance to tap into increased off-premise demand, but only if their capabilities are optimized.

Here are some of the ways restaurant owners can maximize their off-site revenue during big game days by prioritizing strong online ordering technology, loyalty programs and point-of-sale (POS) platforms.

Invest in the Right Online Ordering Platform

To start, restaurant operators need to ensure they have a strong online ordering platform in place. While many restaurants shuttered their physical locations over the past year, the online ordering market share grew by 13 percent between 2020 and 2021. Investing in a holistic, omnichannel POS system ensures that all online orders are streamlined and processed effectively in the restaurant to avoid any hurdles that may arise when an influx of game-day orders come in. The right POS should create a seamless online purchasing experience for the customer while maximizing efficiency for staff.

Prioritize Third-Party Delivery Integration

The popularity of third-party delivery apps like GrubHub and UberEats continues to rise—market revenue has increased 204 percent in the past five years and the COVID-19 pandemic has only accelerated that trend. Overall, working with a third-party delivery service has been found to raise restaurant sales volume by 10 to 20 percent, and this number can increase during high-traffic times. To tap into this much-needed revenue, restaurant owners need to prioritize a direct online ordering platform that is integrated with third-party delivery providers. With a collaborative platform, all third-party delivery orders will be handled precisely and swiftly, which is especially important on big game days.

Leverage POS-Driven Data

In addition to helping a business effectively manage and complete online orders, the right POS system can also offer a treasure trove of critical information about customers. Since a detailed data analysis can be complicated and take up valuable time, a data-driven POS system can be an incredibly valuable tool as it offers turnkey reporting options that make it easy to identify patterns and trends.

For example, POS data can determine which menu items are a restaurant’s strongest and weakest sellers, as well as which items are most successful from a margin standpoint. By crafting smart promotions around these items, restaurants can entice customers to spend more money overall while offering eye-catching game day promotions, whether it be combined orders, buy-one-get-one deals or discounts for checks over a certain amount. This will help drive traffic to online ordering platforms where restaurants can further target customers with tempting add-ons and discounted menu pairings, as well as offer additional incentives to capture loyalty members.

Reward Loyalty Members

A big sporting event isn’t just a time to capture new customers via online ordering channels, it is also a good opportunity to reward loyal customers. And the best way to do that is through loyalty programs. With omnichannel POS platforms, businesses can engage with their customers and design customized loyalty programs that are tailored for a specific group of customers. This type of customer engagement is more important than ever amid the challenges of the pandemic. ​​According to Antavo’s Global Customer Loyalty Report 2022, 2.1 percent of the restaurant owners surveyed reported that their loyalty program helped keep their customers engaged during the COVID-19 crisis.

Most loyalty programs provide tiered rewards to guide customers through the process: rewards for joining the program, downloading the app, referring friends and more. According to Antavo’s data, loyalty customers in a higher tier-level had a 29.6 percent higher visit frequency than members in lower tiers. Restaurants can also retarget big loyalty program spenders with specific email promotions that are more likely to resonate based on their purchase history. By testing offers like dollar-off, percentage-off or free items, as well as exclusive, limited-time game day offers for loyalty members, restaurant owners can determine which ones prompt the highest amount of additional spending.

The pandemic has continued to impact consumer behavior trends everywhere, and that is especially true for the way they celebrate large sporting events. But with the right capabilities and POS technology, smart operators can successfully prepare for the upcoming online ordering surge and emerge victorious.

Graham Campbell is the Chief Operating Officer of Givex, and an innovative technology executive with over 15 years of experience in the payment, e-commerce and point of sale sectors. Since joining in 2006, he has held positions including: VP of projects & implementations, VP and general manager of GivexPOS, SVP of product development and now holds the position of the company’s chief operating officer. He is passionate about delivering valuable new forward thinking, end-user focused products to market that scale. His ability to critically assess business challenges and identify innovative solutions helped him build relationships with business leaders globally.

Expert Takes, Feature, Technology