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Delivering with click and collect

Deciding to add a click and collect service can seem like a big project, so Mike Hardman, from catering industry equipment supplier Alliance Online, shares his tips for making it a success

When you’re running a takeaway, customer service is important. You only have the time it takes for someone to place an order to make a good impression, and then it’s up to your food to do the rest.

Adding a click and collect service can seem daunting if you’ve not considered it before, as you have even less time to bond with your customers. Plus, click and collect means that customers can order meals in advance and, if not managed properly, it can be hard to keep track of what to cook when.

But the positives can outweigh the negatives. Adding a click and collect service can increase the revenue of your restaurant and you could find yourself with lots of new customers that you wouldn’t have been able to reach otherwise.

So, below I’ll take you through a few of the key things to remember if you want your new system to be a success.

Ease of use - While it might be tempting to go for all the bells and whistles to promote your new service, what customers are looking for is a straightforward, easy to understand system that can get them what they want quickly. That means prioritising reliability and ease of use over anything else. If your process for ordering is too complicated or takes a long time to complete, customers can easily give up and try elsewhere.

EPOS - Manage orders centrally, whether walk-in or click and collect, using an electronic point of sale (ePOS) system. This will also allow you to keep better track of inventory, so you’re less likely to run out of items on your menu. Plus, ePOS systems are more efficient, so your customers get a smoother experience too.

Staff - Your click and collect system will be worthless if it’s not properly managed, and delays, cold food, or rushed service can cause severe damages to public opinion of your restaurant. To make sure the collection side of your takeaway is hitting the mark just as well as your walk-in service, you should allocate separate staff. That way, you have enough staff to provide attentive service to walk-in customers whilst the collection staff can focus on preparing for click and collect, including keeping track of advance orders.

Options - Offering exceptional customer service with little face-to-face contact might sound tricky, but the secret is to offer plenty of options that can elevate your click and collect. For example, offer customisable options to ensure your customers get the meal they’re looking for. This can include increasing or decreasing the number of items in their meal, or adding extras like ketchup, tartare sauce or batter bits. You want to aim for the exact same amount of choice that someone walking into your shop would get.

Incentives - Advertise special offers or free gifts if customers order above a certain amount. Not only will this make their purchase feel more valuable, but they’ll be more likely to spend that little bit extra which means more profit for you. Your EPOS system can give you an insight into your customers’ ordering habits, which you can then use to develop these special offers as well as improve any areas of your menu that seem to need a bit of work.

Keep it warm - Think about how you’re going to keep orders warm if customers are running late. You might want to package it up on arrival or, if you want to get ahead, you could invest in a heated topper with gantry or a heat lamp.

Third party platforms - Consider getting your business on delivery app platforms such as Just Eat. That way you’ll get comprehensive guidance with an easy-to-navigate interface, and your customers will know exactly how to place an order. They can even help with your marketing and extend your reach. Check out the commission fees first.

Advertising - Keep your advertising simple, tell customers what they can do, what they can get, and where to get it. The message should be simple enough to be read quickly and from a distance, plus easy enough for everyone to understand. Now is not the time for complicated jargon or flowery language.

Customer service - Remember that customer service is just as important to online customers as it is face-to-face, so focus on efficiency, personal touches, and following the latest catering trends.

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