Applebee’s Classic Bacon Cheeseburger
Restaurant Employee Holding A Plate Of Salad
UberEats Delivery Bike
Hamburger On Tray Being Served By Person In White Shirt
Brown And Gray Concrete Store
Restaurant Dish On White Ceramic Plate Dish
Online and in the dining room

Online shopping has given rise to the practice of “showrooming,” where customers browse in-store before buying products online. In the restaurant industry, this results in repeat diners choosing to order their meals for delivery or take-out, rather than from the quiet table by the window. As a result, restaurateurs find themselves competing not only with other establishments and online ordering, but also meal kit companies offering a unique dining experience at home.

This dynamic is forcing restaurant owners to rethink their strategy. To attract consumers searching for convenient meal options, they’re leveraging both their dining rooms and online platforms to create an energizing omnichannel approach to their brand. National brands, such as Chipotle and Applebee’s, are leading the way by serving customers how they want to be served, most notably through the integration of mobile apps and the in-house experience.

All restaurants can take advantage of the synergy generated by unifying online and offline marketing by applying these five best practices:

1. Invite customers to come hungry, go home happy and look forward to next time

Restaurants face a complex challenge: prepare high-quality and flavorful food and serve it at the precise temperature for every customer. When meeting this challenge, restaurants earn their diners’ trust—yet that trust doesn’t go away when a customer places an online order for take-out or delivery. Leverage this as an opportunity to reinforce your customers’ trust and brand loyalty. Keep them returning for your food, regardless of whether they place their order in the dining room, online or from an app.

2. Deliver incentives when delivering to home

Restaurants can use a customers’ appetite for the food they serve to trigger interest in other parts of the business. When a customer places an online order, follow up with an email suggesting they dine-in next time and turn their meal into more of an occasion. Incentivize them to dine-in with a special offer following an online purchase, such as a discount, free dessert or other perk.

3. Sell to the senses … and beyond

So much of the experience for restaurant goers relies on their senses–from the smell of their favorite dish to the lighting and atmosphere. Ensuring a delightful sensory experience helps remind customers that no matter what, they can associate your brand with something they enjoy, even when they order their food to go. Additionally, restaurants have an opportunity to take it one step further by selling to a customer’s sense of loyalty, with online rewards programs that celebrate every time they click “check out.” This demonstrates an appreciation for their business, even when they’re not in the dining room.  

4. Factor in the facility to deliver quality

In the digital age, the restaurant extends beyond the building’s four walls. As such, facilities management impacts a customer’s experiences whether they dine in or at home. They will have a bad taste in their mouth if their dining experience is affected by:

HVAC, plumbing or refrigeration problems resulting in unsafe temperatures and unsanitary conditions.

Equipment downtime requiring employees to “wing it” rather than follow standard procedures.

Poor facilities management hindering a restaurant’s ability to fulfill pickup or delivery orders in a timely manner.

A malfunctioning website that stops them from placing an order altogether.

5. Turn to a trusted facilities management partner

Restaurants offer customers something no other food retailer can replicate—a unique dining experience, whether created on site or at home. Restaurateurs can help ensure this consistency by turning to a facilities management partner who is flexible, aligned with your goals and committed to your growth. Keep in mind that a facilities management partner should adapt to you and your existing systems and processes—or you may find yourself trading your facilities management distractions for rigid processes that demand too much of your employees’ time.

When restaurants focus on both the bricks and clicks, customers know they can always find one thing on the menu: a quality dining experience that they enjoy and trust, in-store or online.

As Vixxo’s Chief Client Officer, Warren Weller works closely with Sales, Pricing and Operations teams to maximize long-term revenue and strengthen existing client relationships. He is focused on identifying organic growth opportunities and ensuring voice of the customer is represented throughout Vixxo’s strategy.

Expert Takes, Slideshow