Updated: Mar 10
By Andrew Parr
Reviewing where we started and how we got here: Each of the last two weekends my wife and I cuddled up on our couch, scrolled social media to explore dinner delivery options, and ordered from local, independent, neighborhood restaurants. We did indeed find restaurants that were telling us their story and that had promotions that bring value, along with some questionable user experiences (UX). In this installment, we explore clumsy online ordering, as Jody and I ordered wings from one of the restaurants.
Now, for the nitty-gritty. The restaurant’s online ordering portal was displayed through a redirect from their web site to ChowNow. The menu seemed easy enough to navigate, with a robust selection of choices to make. We decided on two orders of wings. We selected all flaps (it was an option with no upcharge, not a special request), and we wanted to choose Old Bay seasoning dry rub on one order and Buffalo dry rub on the other. The problem was that wing sauces were a forced modifier and dry seasoning were optional. The only way we could get the seasonings was to also order the wings sauced. Ugh! Also, one of the “forced modifiers” was bleu cheese or ranch. We opted for bleu cheese, but this forced modifier also upcharged us $1 for each order. We didn’t order “extra” bleu cheese, it was just our choice to go with the order. And, friends, here is what we received: Two orders of wings, both all drums and no extra bleu cheese as a result of the upcharge attached to required selection. The bottom line is that we didn’t get what we ordered, and the online ordering process was clunky at best.
Restaurants need to look at online ordering the same way they would look at their printed menus for dine-in service. Are the menus correct, or are they last week’s menus with out-of-date items? Are they consistent across all digital platforms? This is kinda like asking are the menus at the host stand and behind the bar and in the menu holders all current and the same? How easy is it to get to the menu? At the restaurant it is placed right in front of you; is it that accessible on the web site, or do I need to search for it? It is important to anticipate what the customers’ needs are and meet them first. The restaurant knows what their top five items are and what percentage of sales they represent. Why not put those at the top of the menu and call them out as “favorites” or “most popular?” We are no longer looking at a traditional horizontal menu that is beautifully laid out and playing to the research and psychology that goes into menu design. We are looking at a long, narrow stack on a phone screen. If you list the most popular item 17th down from the top, I’m not likely to see it.
And here is something that our actual restaurant guests told us: With so many people still working from home, encourage customers to order an extra meal for lunch the next day. Tell us which items reheat really well and tell us how to do it. Or create the two-day sandwich with half prepared as you always would, and half deconstructed so it will eat properly the next day. Another killer idea to connect the customer back to the restaurant is to include a recipe that can be used for leftovers. Owlbear Barbeque has insanely amazing brisket. What would you do if a recipe or better yet, a QR code linking to video instructions, was included that showed you how to make Brisket Benedict with barbeque hollandaise sauce the next day? Woah, mind blown! There are still so many ways to create the sense of belonging that we yearn for from our favorite restaurants, and starting by making online ordering simple, easy and just one click away is like opening the front door to your restaurant and welcoming us in with a hearty greeting and a broad smile.
Andrew Parr, Angry Olive Consulting's Founder, is a restaurant and hospitality industry leader with over 25 years of experience including consulting, project management, restaurant operations and talent acquisition. His education includes a BA in Psychology and History from the University of Wisconsin along with a JD from Hamline University School of Law.
Andrew was born and raised in Milwaukee, WI, and currently resides in Denver with his wife Jody and their dog Cooper. Andrew is a Past President of the Board of Directors for the Scleroderma Foundation – Rocky Mountain Chapter.