I am a big curry fan and love a good hot vindaloo or biryani on a Friday night. When I am in a new city or town and have a spare evening, I always like to try and discover new restaurants, typically within walking distance so I can justify the onion bhajis. Personally, I don’t like eating alone so I’ll usually book a table if with friends or family and book a takeout if I am on my own. I thought I would share my recent experience of looking and ordering an Indian takeout in London on a recent visit. There is lots of room for improvements for both the Consumer and the restaurant in the journey from discovery, ordering and pickup.
Discovery and Research
I am forever searching for the best curry, so I like to spend time researching where to eat. Just like most consumers, I use my smartphone to research, which is a common consumer behaviour with three out of four consumers say they purchase on their mobile devices. I like to use a couple of methods to research where to eat, such as Yelp or Google search. Other options exist like foursquare; TripAdvisor or others can use social media apps. When researching I use the filter (price, open or not etc.) and sort by (recommended or rating) options, so my preferred eateries will appear as the top recommendations.
Here is an example of a recent search I did on Yelp and Google for Indian restaurants in London. I obscured the names (highlighted in green). I filtered on both apps for price and sorted for recommendations being shown the highest. With the written recommendations on both apps, it certainly provides more than enough information for consumers to make an informed decision. There is still lots of room for improvements in customer experience and for the business, for example:
The pictures shown on Yelp are not very helpful and unflattering to the restaurant. Less is more.
Yelps promote ‘Call to Order’ prominently, whereas Google promote order online. This is a personal taste, but I think calling a restaurant is time consuming and prone to errors.
Many links promoted by the restaurants are broken or point to the wrong website. I think this is because maintaining up to date information for all these different discoveries, booking tables and ordering apps must be very time consuming for the restaurants.
Yelp use their App for the map, whereas I prefer to use my default Google map.
Figure 1: Yelp App – Discovery of London India Restaurants
Figure 2: Google Map App – Discovery of London India Restaurants
Option Booking a table (Eat in)
There seems to be so many apps now that allow consumers to book a seat at a table, I wonder how a restaurant they coordinate across all the various apps and don’t overbook tables. The most common apps for booking tables in the UK are Quando, Eat App, The Fork, Open Table and Aleno. Many restaurants to maximise their reach use more than one table booking app and offer to book from their own website and also offer an option to call to book a table. At least what I have noticed is that the restaurants only make a few tables available on these apps as they want to avoid the costs, as they typically charge per table booked and even number of guests.
I use these apps all the time when I am booking a table, my preferred is Open Table, but when I am looking for a restaurant, I certainly will use another App like Quando. There is lots of room for improvements here as well for the customer and the restaurant:
Booking a table, should not just be a subset of the tables. As a customer I want to be sure that I have access to all the tables and don’t have to visit another App or call my favorite restaurant to be sure there is no availability. Paying an App to book a table seems to be the root of the issue.
Before booking a table and if I am in a hurry, I would like the possibility to see the menu and even order in advance.
Many restaurants take a £10 or £20 fee for booking a table to avoid no-shows. This turns consumers off and the grace period of 15 mins seems a better approach. I also don’t think consumers are on purpose not showing, it’s just hard for them to cancel a booking as they don’t have a good history.
Option Ordering Online (take away)
Most restaurants have a website where they share details and have a menu. For many restaurants these websites were probably created by Friends or Family and are updated infrequently. Also, my observation is that many restaurant websites don’t have an eCommerce store that allow customers to view their menu and order. For most restaurants, online ordering for delivery and takeout is mostly using one of the big three delivery apps, Uber Eats, Deliveroo and Just Eat. Personally, I don’t get delivery very often and prefer to pick up, and secondly these delivery apps really cost the restaurant a fortune and I prefer to give more of my money to the restaurant than the 15-30% these Apps charge for deliver and 5-10% for pickup.
My main observation for restaurants is to create their own eCommerce store that is mobile friendly, works with an App ideally and doesn’t charge a percentage of your sales.
Which eCommerce solution is best for restaurants! Answer Conversational Commerce using Messaging Apps
Consumers spend an average of 23 hours a week on their favorite messaging app, and this is ideal for restaurants to engage with their customers and works with all major apps like yelp, google, OpenTable, Quando. Engaging customers with messaging apps is called conversational commerce, and when augmented with technology (e.g., AI chat bot) can allow a more seamless and natural conversation between a restaurant and their customers.
Restaurants can benefit from conversational commerce through messaging apps in many ways from customer support to allowing customers to order and pickup.
Customer Support: Simple chat bots can answer basic customer questions like opening hours, location, or provide simple tips or how to guides.
Personalized service: When customers need a more personal touch, it is possible to handover conversations from the chat bot to a human.
Free up time and save labour: In the Yelp example, when customers click on ‘Call to Order’ instead they will message to Order. This can free up precious time by allowing automation to engage with customers on simple repetitive tasks, and this will allow the business owners to focus on a more personalized service.
eCommerce: Rather than using the big delivery apps for ordering, restaurants can put their menu on an eCommerce store and allow their customers to order and pay, ensuring higher revenues and higher sales closures.
Message and Pickup: Allow your customers to order their takeaway and avoid the queues on their way to work, increasing sales. Also, you can avoid the 5-10% pickup fee from the delivery apps.
Loyalty: As every customer will engage with their phones, restaurant owners will now have the phone number of every customer that engages with them and understand new versus repeat customers preferences.
Promotions: Once the restaurant owner has the phone numbers of their customers, conversational commerce can be used to send messages of special deals and promotions (e.g., 20% off Biryani on Wednesdays).
Simple integration into existing apps: Just use the phone number provided to integrate into any app.
No Apps to download for customers: This is critical as many consumers do not like to download Mobile Apps for small businesses and this can be an unnecessary friction. No one is ever deleting their favorite messaging app like WhatsApp from their phone.
Payemoji – Enabling eCommerce for Coffee Shops with Messaging Apps
At Payemoji we enable every restaurant to have an online presence with messenger apps to engage with their customers – no tech or IT skills required. Every restaurant gets their own AI Chat Bot, a local mobile number (separate from their business number) and a QR code(s) that make it simple for your customers to engage through a Messenger App with your AI Chat bot. This will then allow the restaurant to offer customer support, offer an eCommerce store (with choice of store theme) to allow their customers to buy products digitally all through the AI Chat bot on any Messenger App. QR codes can be used to provide a Quick call to action to order, all within the Messaging App. Integration into social media platforms and internet platforms is also easy i.e., local number, a QR codes or even we offer a simple plug-ins. All this is available through our solution, and best of all your customers will never have to leave their favorite messenger app to engage with your AI chat bot for your business.
Sounds Interesting – Get in touch now.
We would love to chat with you about how your business could benefit from OMNIchannel messaging and WhatsApp business platform. Get in touch with us at email@example.com and we will schedule a call.
So go ahead and join the conversation by taking advantage of the 23 hours that consumers spend per week on their Messaging Apps and use that to grow your Business.
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