When Northland Properties, which operates Denny’s restaurants in Canada, launched its web ordering platform with Smooth Commerce, it saw a significant growth in revenue within 30 days.
“We were very pleased with the amount of lift we saw during such a short time,” said Manoj Jasra, chief digital officer and chief marketing officer for the company.
What’s more, guest checks grew over 10 percent while delivery costs went down. Plus, the thousands of customers who were making purchases on third-party marketplaces were now theirs, so they could collect information and have a more direct relationship with them. When using a third-party marketplace, Northland Properties received very little customer information.
“When I have access to a one-on-one relationship with our customers, that’s fantastic,” Jasra said. “It gives us a massive tool to try new products, try different types of products and try different offers whether it is seasonal or in market. It is nice to have a tool at our disposal.”
One of the biggest benefits of mobile app- and web-based ordering is the smooth, multi-channel service it provides, said Brian Deck, CEO of Smooth Commerce. That is critical, because today’s customers have a desire for speed and convenience and hassle-free experiences.
“There is an increasing demand for quality food and an expectation of convenience and premium customer service. Everything is moving to digital not just in food service but in many different aspects of how people engage,” Deck said, adding that there are five pillars of preference driving choice today: convenient quality, fresh and healthy, price, discounts and rewards, and digital.
There is also a rise in omni-channel and personalization. “What that means is basically that a guest or a customer can engage with a brand from many different entry points whether that is through the web, mobile app, message notification or text, and also through the in-store experience as well,” Deck said.
COVID-19 has increased the need for digital commerce, engagement and contactless payments.
Deck said there is a real opportunity for truckstop and travel plaza operators to use digital tools to sell products from the restaurant or convenience store and have the products delivered either to the fuel pump or the parking lot. He noted three truckstop and travel plaza industry brands doing digital well—TA Petro, Love’s and Pilot Flying J. Adjacent spaces doing digital well include Chipotle, Domino’s and Starbucks, Deck said.
“Before COVID, the convenience factor was at the top of the list for customers coming in for gas, but post-COVID, it is essential,” Deck said, adding that mobile ordering can increase basket size and help with conversion. “It is all about providing a fast, easy-to-use experience.”
While COVID-19 may have driven additional app- and web-based ordering, it is here to stay long term. Digital can also work well when operators leverage a cost-optimized, white-label delivery solution, Deck said.
Prior to moving to Smooth Commerce, Denny’s Canada was offering two separate web ordering experiences: pickup orders went through a subpar website and delivery went through a third-party app, Jasra said. The company had to quickly pivot and find a cost-effective way to manage contactless delivery and pickup orders when COVID hit. “Who knew this moment was going to come that made us have to pivot so quickly, but it did,” Jasra said. “We wanted to be contactless, frictionless, convenient and have value.”
To help drive down costs, Smooth Commerce has formed a relationship with Door-Dash to facilitate delivery services within merchant branded mobile apps and websites powered by Smooth Commerce.
The most important thing is there is a different cost with the Door-Dash Drive program, which has a set fee verses a percentage. “They said, ‘If you’re the one originating the customer order, we can do that delivery for cheaper because it didn’t cost as much to engage that customer end to end,’” Deck said.
Jasra said Northland Properties launched its Smooth Commerce built web ordering in April 2020 and benefited not only from increased sales but from seasonal opportunities. On Mother’s Day, sales were about six times higher. “That told us we have to be ready for every moment,” he said.
Northland Properties has launched promotions, such as 20 percent off takeout and delivery orders during certain periods. “We want to drive that adoption to our direct channel so we have access to direct customer information,” Jasra said.
Deck said operators can analyze the data in various ways, such as how different locations are performing and the busiest time of day. They can also look at how often guests engage with the business, and where and how they’ve spent money. “The modern-day loyalty program is about personalized rewards and offers that motivate behavior,” Deck said.
Smooth Commerce’s mission is to provide a customer-focused digital solution to empower everyone’s local businesses, now and in the future. They understand how important the customer journey is for businesses and that if you provide an engaging digital experience for your customers, they are more likely to return again and again.
Smooth Commerce provides a one-stop shop to get a program up and running that lift sales, shift transactions to a more cost-effective platform and thrives with data-driven insights to enhance the customer experience and satisfaction. For more information, fill out the Smooth Commerce form here.
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