The last couple of years have seen huge changes in consumer behaviour. However, for any paradigm shift there has to be a catalyst supporting this change. The way people have gone about ordering food and drink — be that in a pub, bar, restaurant or cafe — is not the same as it once was. Ordering to your table from your phone, without having to stand up, is at times now quite standard. As well as this being an incredibly convenient solution for restaurant-goers, the operational benefits mobile ordering entails aren’t lacking in numbers. S4labour and Newtelligence have come together to explore the technological phenomenon: mobile ordering… and just how useful it can be.

Staffing levels are in constant conversation across the hospitality sector. Covid-19, isolation periods and lockdowns have heavily damaged the industry. It’s no surprise that, when speaking to S4labour customers, not having enough staff to meet sales demands was a massive concern for the sector. Table ordering functionality arguably is part of the solution to this problem.

There is definitely a case for some customers wanting to simply order something without the usual conventions and conversations. Ultimately, there’s nothing wrong with this. Sometimes, someone will just want an extra drink or snack and not have to queue or have a conversation. In fact, some individuals choose to have their entire dining experience through an app. Data from PYMNTS goes as far as suggesting that 41% of restaurant sales are generated through digital channels, such as apps or aggregators. Even though this doesn’t specifically mean table ordering apps, it acts as a clear indicator to consumers wanting to digitise their dining experience. But, what does this all mean for our original point of debate: staffing levels?

App ordering doesn’t necessarily mean you have more staff, but what it does mean is they’re more likely to be doing the right tasks at the right time. Front of house, when mismanaged, can be a chaotic environment. In an environment where app ordering doesn’t exist, front of house’s responsibilities can be exhaustive: welcoming customers, checking in on them, preparing drinks, communicating with back of house staff, serving food and drink, dealing with complaints, taking orders, printing bills and clearing tables. It can be a lot.

When ordering on platforms such as Newtelligence’s food2go service, the requirements for front of house staff are significantly reduced. Instead of approaching customers for new orders, dealing with amendments, reducing queue times and taking payments, front of house can prepare orders from point of order and spend more time on improving customer experience. And, importantly, improving productivity.

This goes beyond increasing staff productivity; there’s also something to be said for revenue growth. The question arises: do you actually end up ordering more on an app instead of traditional ordering methods? A statement from Pepper in The Morning Advertiser believes so, stating that average transaction value per customer has increased through app ordering on their platform. Assuming this is true across the board, the opportunity of greater revenue from orders should not be ignored. Not to mention all the drivers which encourage this, be that upselling through questions like “Do you want anything else with that” or “Add this to your order”. Yes, waiters can and will do this where appropriate. However, on apps customers may feel they have a heightened sense of autonomy and are less hassled — potentially encouraging more purchases.

All this said, it’s important to consider the counter-points. We started off this article suggesting changes in consumer behaviour has led to app ordering becoming standard. Yet, there will be individuals who prefer experiences that aren’t reliant on technology. This is totally acceptable. There will be hospitality sites who pride themselves on their front of house staff having excellent interpersonal and rapport building skills, and are a pivotal part of their business-perception. Additionally, app ordering may encourage a party of guests to be distracted on their phone — limiting social experiences. In light of these points, it’s essential to treat app ordering as a hybrid-model. Ordering to your table from your phone shouldn’t replace customer service; if anything it will enhance it. Staff members will have more time to focus on customers, as opposed to taking orders and printing bills.

The market for this product is ever-growing. Recent climates from Covid-19 and staff shortages may have accelerated its popularity, but improving customer service and speeding up processes only helps grow businesses. App ordering combined with effective deployment can be useful tools to boost productivity. S4labour enourages cost saving and sales enhancing rota creation. When combined with food2go, front of house staff have more time to focus on customers and not take as many orders, revealing opportunites to improve business bottom lines.

For more information on our new partner, Newtelligence, get in touch with them today.

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