Concerns over COVID-19 have reshaped life as we know it, and many truckstop and travel center owners are adapting so that they can continue to serve their customers and generate revenue by adding online and mobile ordering. Many believe customer expectations surrounding mobile ordering for pick-up and delivery and the ability to order online will become the norm after the pandemic passes, transitioning from a convenience play to an essential offering.
On NATSO’s The Truck Stops Here podcast, Darren Schulte, NATSO’s vice president of membership, and I sat down with Brian Deck, CEO of Smooth Commerce, to learn more about trends in online ordering.
Smooth Commerce, a leading branded mobile app and web ordering provider, works with about 40 major restaurant brands at over 2,000 locations across North America. It provides a customizable platform truckstop and travel plaza operators can use to engage with their customers and give them a more convenient way to order ahead for pick-up and delivery, pay, earn loyalty and more. (Connect with Smooth Commere here.)
Q: What is app- and web-based ordering?
A: App- and web-based ordering is exactly what it sounds. The customer, whether it is a customer of a restaurant or a customer of at truckstop, can interact with their favorite brands through their mobile phone or computer to access menus and mobile offers and go through the ordering process to send the order in for pick-up and delivery.
Q Can operators also use the app to enable ordering from the store?
A: As it pertains to truckstops, there isn’t just food service. There are convenience type items, grocery and pantry items, and electronics and hardware. What is really interesting is looking at how the truckstop business . . . can reinvent itself through digital. The great thing about technology is you can shape it how you want depending on how deep and how vested you want to be. Truckstops can use it to reserve parking spaces, show fuel prices or promote specials. There are a lot of different ways you can use digital technology today. For gas brands, we’re also doing pay at the pump.
Q Are there things that are taking place in this space that you think are never going to go back to where they were pre-COVID-19?
A: Digital was already going down this path and the expectation of the consumer was to be able to save themselves time in line and time in store. Doing curbside pickup was something that was an expectation that people were growing into pre-COVID. COVID has made some people more apprehensive about being in public spaces and . . . digital can make them more comfortable and give them the assurance of having things brought to them.
To learn more about online ordering, including how truckstops can use the Smooth Commerce technology to promote their food service and amenities and boost customer service, listen to the full podcast.
To request information from Smooth Commerce, fill out the form here.
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