How Kitchen Systems can Enhance Online Ordering
We’ve all been there. It’s a busy weeknight and you go online to order dinner from one of your favorite restaurants. They quote you a pickup time, but when you arrive you still find yourself waiting for 15 minutes before your order is ready. Finally, you get home, open the bag to dig in, and find something is wrong - maybe you’re missing the ketchup or the burger has the wrong type of cheese. This might be your favorite restaurant, but you’re going to think twice before you order online from there again.
Online ordering is win-win. It is convenient for customers and beneficial for restaurants. Over the last few years online ordering has become table stakes for restaurants that want to attract and retain customers. However, the rise of online ordering has changed, and in some ways diminished, the customer experience. While it may not seem intuitive, kitchen display system technology can be a key component in creating great guest experiences while ordering online. Let’s take a look at a few ways a KDS can help.
1. Providing Customers with Accurate Pickup Times
A kitchen’s capacity to fulfill orders can vary widely across different days of the week or meal periods. A lot of factors can affect how long it will take to prepare online orders: a 12 top walking in unexpectedly, a line cook calling out, even rainy weather pushing more customers to the drive thru can impact kitchen throughput. While many online ordering systems have algorithms to predict when orders will be ready for pickup, the majority of the algorithms are missing a key data point – what is actually happening in the kitchen right now.
A kitchen display system, like Fresh KDS, knows how long recent orders took to prepare and how long active orders have been open. This allows the KDS to measure capacity in real time and provide feedback to online order systems about when orders will be ready. Providing a more accurate time to customers during the ordering process sets the correct expectations and creates a better ordering experience.
2. Improving Accuracy in Order Preparation
When the kitchen makes an error on a dine-in order, for example leaving off a side of salad dressing or accidentally putting BBQ on a sandwich when the customer wanted it dry, it is relatively easy to correct the mistake. Once an order leaves the building, however, it becomes much harder to fix even simple mistakes. This means it is even more important to make sure online orders are prepared accurately, down to details like remembering the drinks, plasticware, napkins, and ketchup packets.
A KDS can improve the accuracy of order preparation in a several ways:
- A digital display is easier to read than handwritten paper tickets
- Placing screens at every station means no one has to remember their part of an order
- Item and modifier strikethroughs help keep track of what is ready and what still needs to be prepared
- An off-premise or take out station view makes sure no items are left out of the order
Getting online orders right 100% of the time enhances the overall guest experience, which can lead to more repeat business and more positive reviews.
3. Communicating Statuses to Customers
Are you old enough to remember a time before package tracking? Such a time did exist, but it has been replaced with the knowledge of every step your package takes on its journey to you, down to the Alexa notification the moment it hits your doorstep. Giving customers insight into the status of their package (or online food order) creates a sense of comfort. Most customers just want to know what’s happening with their order.
Modern kitchen display systems provide several methods of communicating updates directly to customers. Some examples include:
- Notifying the customer via SMS when orders are received, in progress, or ready for pickup
- Updating a customer-facing status progress to show which orders are ready and which orders are still being worked on
- Sending status changes back to the online system which can then update the customer in the app or on the webpage
These are a few examples of how a tech-forward kitchen system can enhance online ordering for customers. Kitchen display systems are more than just digital printers. The way kitchen systems can communicate with front of house software, online ordering systems, and even directly with customers makes a KDS a game changer for restaurants that want to drive more revenue through online ordering.