Data suggest that restaurants have a weak mobile presence: Only one in eight franchised restaurant chains and one in 20 independently owned restaurants have mobile sites, according to a study by Restaurant Science, an industry data and information provider. Plus, only 40 percent have online menus.
This is significant because a strong mobile presence can increase sales of to-go meals in restaurants, says Jeff Clark, corporate development officer at EatStreet, an online and mobile ordering service for restaurants available in 75 U.S. cities.
And industry trends point to diners’ desire to make use of online ordering. According to the National Restaurant Association, 52 percent of diners said they’d be likely to use a smartphone or tablet for takeout or delivery if restaurants offered that option.
“Full-service restaurants have limited ability to turn tables,” Clark says. “If they are successful and are maxed out on table turns, then carryout is another revenue treatment that can also help improve efficiency.”
EatStreet recently announced a partnership with the NRA. Clark says he hopes the partnership will show restaurants the revenue opportunity that online ordering can provide them.
“It’s a lot less expensive to offer carryout than to offer increased sit-down dining,” he explains. “And it’s a lot more efficient to take orders via the Internet than [talking] on the phone. Plus, the accuracy is much better.”
Casual dining chains are beginning to adopt the technology more in earnest—P.F. Chang’s, Applebee’s, and Denny’s all offer online ordering. Darden Restaurants plans to rollout online ordering this month at several Olive Garden locations, and Buffalo Wild Wings recently announced its plan to do so, as well. Mobile adaptation at independent restaurants is slowly picking up, as well.
“The restaurant industry is about 10 years behind the lodging industry in marketing on the Internet,” Clark says. “In the lodging industry, you have several third parties like Expedia or Hotel.com taking reservations, and hotels are listed on everyone of those sites. Restaurants will want to be listed on the different online ordering sites, and they will all offer access to customers on the Internet.”
By Joann Whitcher