Last Updated on March 16, 2022 by Andrew Flint
Omnichannel isn’t a new concept; retail has been using this approach to business for years now. It wasn’t until recently, however, that it gained traction in the restaurant industry. In fact, the move to an omnichannel restaurant strategy was more out of necessity than anything else. Restaurants simply needed additional means — beyond in-person dining — for getting food to customers.
What an omnichannel restaurant strategy looks like will vary from one restaurant to the next depending on the customer base. Some will use online ordering and mobile apps, and others will rely more heavily on self-service kiosks and delivery services. There are also those that will go the curbside or takeout counter routes. Whichever channels they use, restaurant owners and operators will need to check their real estate needs to ensure the restaurant real estate strategy also aligns with the omnichannel strategy.
If drive-thru will be integral to the business, for example, then you’ll want to compare sites that can accommodate a consistent flow of traffic. For high-touch sit-down restaurants, ample indoor and outdoor square footage is a necessity. At the same time, going with a ghost kitchen concept would be more about finding a space in proximity to a given community.
In fact, something as seemingly straightforward as a coffee shop has a lot to consider in its omnichannel restaurant approach. One survey found that 75% of coffee shops that added new channels did so with alternative ordering and delivery options. They must now determine how the physical space will need to change to support such efforts.
Factors Shaping Omnichannel Restaurant Strategies and the Future of the Restaurant Industry
With an omnichannel restaurant approach, a number of factors will play a role in informing not only channel selection, but also restaurant real estate decisions. Any restaurant real estate strategy worth its weight must reflect new realities. Consider the following:
1. Customer experience.
Core to an omnichannel approach is the customer experience in the restaurant itself, as customers should be able to move seamlessly from the digital space to the physical realm — and back again. Look for ways to build a consistent customer journey across channels. Is ordering from your website similar to the experience of ordering from your mobile app? Does the physical space mirror the digital one? Deloitte reports that 64% of customers prefer to order digitally while on premises at quick-service restaurants. Perhaps it’s time for new technology to offer such conveniences.
Self-ordering kiosks would be a step in the right direction. The same could be said for digital menus and mobile payments. Even equipping your drive-thru with an automated voice system could go over well, as Deloitte also notes that 81% of drive-thru users would be open to the idea. It’s all about providing the tech-enabled solutions customers have now come to expect, all without sacrificing the food quality, presentation, packaging, and server interactions that still shape people’s perception of a restaurant brand.
2. Location ecosystem.
Location has always been a critical component of a restaurant’s real estate strategy. Applying an omnichannel restaurant approach doesn’t change this fact — it only changes the criteria used for location selection. Start with one simple question: What channels do customers use to dine with your establishment? On average, customers use four different channels for making food orders. Does this apply to your business?
Once you know the channels your customers prefer, you can identify how the location ecosystem can serve your customers best. After all, where you open a drive-in location will be different from where you launch a ghost kitchen concept. One space brings people to you, whereas the other is about bringing food to people. It all comes down to understanding how each space serves the customer experience.
3. Space functionality.
Restaurant real estate comes with a variety of advantages and disadvantages. But with the changing restaurant industry, some of those original advantages might have become disadvantages — and vice versa. Start looking at your space’s functionality from different perspectives. For example, is there currently enough space for a seamless customer pickup experience? Does the space need to be reoriented to enhance this service? Could on-premises pickup lockers or cubbies aid in this ordering option?
With 62% of consumers saying convenience is the top reason for frequenting a restaurant, these are the sort of questions that need asking. Your answer will inform both space modification needs and your real estate planning going forward. Otherwise, the customer experience in the restaurant will suffer, and it’ll be near impossible to build any loyalty in your customer base.
The omnichannel restaurant is here to stay, and it’s important for you to consider these and other factors as you develop your restaurant real estate strategy for 2022 and beyond. Reacquaint yourself with customers’ channel preferences, provide the experience they expect, and make sure your space can deliver on that promise to set your restaurant up for long-term success.
If you’d like to learn more about how Occupier’s lease management software can help support an omnichannel restaurant strategy, schedule a demo today!