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Ahead of the game

If you could know what your customer was going to order in advance and have it cooked and ready to hand over before they even walked in, wouldn’t you want to? That’s just one of the many benefits of adding a click and collect service to your offering

The way customers are ordering and paying for their shopping is changing and we’re not just talking about grocery or clothes now. Customers no longer want to stand in line and wait for their takeaway and are turning increasingly to outlets that allow them to order, pay and enjoy their food at a time that suits them.

While not all shops want to get on board with delivery, there are many that are embracing the idea of a click and collect service as a way to meet that demand for speed of service and convenience. It’s a trend that is being witnessed by mobile and online ordering technology specialist Preoday whose CEO Nick Hucker comments: “We are seeing customers looking for more convenient and faster food choices. Offering customers the opportunity to skip the queue by ordering and paying ahead, then handing over piping hot food as they arrive through the door, is key to winning their long-term custom.”

Offering a click and collect service isn’t only beneficial to the customer, however. With shorter queues, fish and chip shops can serve more people, accessing fresh revenue streams, and better managing their in-store productivity. It also gives shops an online presence, helping attract customers that might not have normally stopped by.

Preoday’s Nick Hucker continues: “For fish and chip shops, digital ordering can help both increase revenue and improve customer loyalty. One of our fish and chip customers for example found that its multichannel customers using a variety of ordering methods were worth far more than those using a single channel and return often. Across the brand, mobile and online ordering now account for around 20% of sales and the average order value via Preoday’s platform is significantly higher than those who order solely in-store. The brand believes that the ease of exploring the digital menu has led to customers placing more products in their online basket than they might otherwise.”

Tom Dewhurst, founder & CEO of digital ordering platform Ordoo, has also seen an increasing demand for click and collect, spurred on by global corporates like McDonald’s and Starbucks getting on board and changing customer behaviour.  He too believes in the ability these systems have in helping outlets grow their business. Tom comments: “What’s really exciting about digital ordering is you can see customer centric purchasing information, like lifetime spend. Ordoo’s customer engagement platform helps venue owners understand and engage with customers so they come back more frequently (up to three times extra a month), spend more (13% on average) and bring their friends.”

One of the major benefits of using operators such as Preoday and Ordoo is the fact that you own the data that these systems generate - unlike many of the major third-party online ordering platforms. This means you can use the data to market your business to customers, something that was of paramount importance to Daniel Pettit, owner of Daniels, a chain of seven, soon to be eight, takeaways across Dorset. Introducing click and collect via Mobo2Go at two of his shops 18 months ago, he comments: “I wanted to give greater convenience to the customers but, more importantly, it’s a very good way to build up my database. Rather than customers coming in and them being anonymous - I might know it’s John and he’s going to order a steak and kidney pie, but that’s it - with click and collect you have their information, which means I can send out an offer by e-mail or text directly to them.”

Although click and collect only represents 2% of sales currently, Daniel can see the bigger picture, commenting: “It’s part of my medium-term strategy in that more and more people want the convenience of coming in and having their food ready. As time goes on and click and collect grows, that helps us grow. In the last month, we’ve done a couple of promotions just using the click and collect database and they were our two busiest online weeks. Yes, the numbers are small now, but when we’ve got 5,000 people on our database, the numbers are going to be much bigger.”

Mister Cs in Selby, North Yorkshire, introduced click and collect 18 months ago and is receiving anywhere between 15 to 30 orders a day via the app.  As well as offering convenience for customers, one of the biggest impacts it's had is on telephone orders, with frier Pete Calvert commenting: “Click and collect is slowly taking over the phone orders, which is great for us as it means we don’t have staff tied up on the phone as much as we used to.”

Cost-wise, a click and collect system is very competitive to run. Unlike third-party online ordering sites, which can charge anywhere between 15% and 35%, this technology generally comes with a 0% transaction charge but a subscription for the software, payable monthly or annually.

The other positive is that you don’t need to invest in a lot of kit to get started. At its most simple, a fish and chip shop just needs an internet-connected device like a tablet, or even a phone to manage orders, and a cloud software service. For larger operations, software is easily able to integrate with existing EPOS tills or other order management systems, or external parties such as delivery providers or loyalty partners.

To ensure the system slips seamlessly into your current operation, staff training is critical while having a clearly marked and dedicated delivery/collection zone to ensure orders are processed as smoothly as possible is also recommended. And, of course, you need to promote the fact that you are offering click and collect, as Preoday’s Nick Hucker concludes: “Marketing your app is essential; customers will not reap the full benefits of it if they are not aware of the service.”

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