This blog is a recap of our live presentation “In-Venue Mobile Ordering: Best Thing Since Sliced Bread”. You can also request to watch the on-demand livestream for free.
COVID-19 restrictions have forced many locations to accelerate plans to upgrade their contactless technology, and pressured operators of all sizes to be creative both financially and operationally.
It seems that mobile ordering is top on everyone’s list. Not only has this quick and easy way of placing an order helped operators increase per caps, check average, speed of service and adding a layer of additional guest satisfaction, but also it makes the life of operators easier with a more streamlined digital order management system.
But the actual implementation of mobile ordering at a location, such as a stadium, park, theater, hotel or arena, goes beyond just choosing the right software. In this blog, we’ll dive into the ins and outs of things to consider before bringing mobile ordering to your facility.
You can also watch our on-demand livestream going more in-depth on this topic.
1. Why are you adopting mobile ordering?
The first question to consider is why are you rolling out mobile ordering at your venue. The primary reason these days are obviously to provide a safe and convenient customer experience in light of COVID-19. Mobile ordering allows guests to order anywhere they want, away from the crowd or lines, and have the food for pickup or delivery. There’s no need for any cash or card transactions since payment is processed directly online or in the app.
But the benefits of mobile ordering go beyond contactless services. Even before COVID-19, mobile ordering has proven to reduce overhead spending, increase F&B and retail revenue, and increase the speed of service for our partners nationwide.
By using a digital order management system, you can eliminate the need for a cashier or server to manually take orders, or the role of someone communicating orders between the customer and the kitchen. That’s been very helpful for venues that have had to furlough or lay off staff. Another way is to repurpose the staff members previously occupying those roles, and assign them the new role of delivery runners for delivery orders placed through online and mobile ordering. Either way, you can serve more customers with fewer staff, thus reducing the overhead cost.
Mobile orders have been proven to increase the basket size, average order value and order frequency. Simply because of how easy the process of adding items to cart is, people tend to put in more items and purchase more frequently during one event. Our platform also has the capability to prompt people to select add-ons, or customize their combos — both effective ways in increasing average spend per customer. Given that most venues will likely have limited number of people in attendance, maximizing the spend per customer is going to be crucial to increasing revenue.
Increasing the speed of service not only increases customer satisfaction rate, but also makes the job of the F&B team easier. With a faster speed of service, customers don’t have wait in line or linger in the concourse areas. That means those areas can also be repurposed for sponsorship activations and in-venue advertising.
2. Who is the mobile ordering service for? Where in your venue do you want to roll out this service?
Who are your target users? Is it all of your customers or only certain segments of your customers? Either way, the answer to “who” will affect your answer to “where in your venue do you want to roll out mobile ordering”.
For example, you can opt for a venue-wide rollout if you have a small or mid-sized venue, or have to offer contactless ordering to everyone due to regulations. Alternatively, you can choose a partial rollout to only the general admissions audience, or premium suite guests, or season ticket holders, or other sections depending on the composition of your customers.
Stay in tune with customer feedback and understand what each segment of your customers’ needs and wants are. You can also start small with a few segments of your customers, and offer it to a wider audience later on as your team gets more familiar with the system.
3. What services do you want to offer?
Because of the customizability and variety of services you can offer on FanFood, it’s important to think about what features and functionalities you want for your use case. For starters, do you want to offer express pickup or in-seat delivery? Or both? Or maybe offer one service at certain concession stands and the other at others?
When it comes to delivery, do you want to deliver to a seat, a table, a car, or set up other designated delivery spots on premise? The FanFood platform offers a wide range of possibilities when it comes to in-person delivery, and the delivery staff can use the Delivery App to locate customers wherever they are on premise (or even if they enter a home address!)
In addition, you can choose to offer pre-ordering, which allows customers to place a scheduled order up to days ahead of time, and instant ordering for when someone is at the venue during the event. Do you want to offer both or just one? While instant ordering offers the convenience of the on-demand service, pre-ordering allows you to plan inventory ahead of time and collect the revenue up front.
If you have luxury suites or box seating, we also have a special online ordering portal for premium suite meal package booking ahead of time. Suite guests or holders can select the meal packages then want in a seamless online self-service flow, and have them ready in the suite before they arrive. This service offering has been very popular among stadiums and arenas with premium seating areas.
4. What’s a good rollout timeline?
As much as we’d like our partners to be able to offer the convenience of mobile ordering to everyone coming onto the property, sometimes that’s not the smartest thing to do from an operations perspective. One tip we like to recommend — as cliche as it might sound — is the “crawl, walk, run” strategy. This could look different for different venues and operations, but basically it entails a limited, controlled rollout in the beginning before offering all the features to every person.
For example, some partners might want to start with smaller events where they’ll trial the mobile ordering service before using it at sold out events; or they might want to limit mobile ordering to certain seating sections, or certain concession stands, before using it venue-wide.
Every venue is different, and we encourage a tailored approach to each. Again, have dialogues with the customers and pay close attention to their feedback in order to understand what the best approach for you may be.
5. How to get customer to use mobile ordering?
One of the most common question we get from venues interested in adopting mobile ordering is: what if people don’t use it?
That is a very valid concern — especially given that in the sports industry before COVID-19, adoption of mobile ordering technology has been below 10% at a given event. However, post pandemic we’ve seen that percentage change drastically, with many of our partners going live with 100% orders going through the FanFood platform, together with a total elimination of cash and walk-up orders for safety reasons.
With over 6 years of experience in implementing mobile ordering at hundreds of venues nationwide, our team is equipped with the knowledge on how to best increase user adoption. First of all, COVID-19 has greatly raised the awareness of contactless ordering and helped venues increase mobile ordering adoption rate almost overnight. Secondly, the rise of mobile services and payment in other industries, such as restaurant takeouts and ride shares has lowered the mental barrier of using another mobile service.
To make the ordering experience more frictionless, we developed our web ordering whereby a customer only needs to scan a QR code to open a web browser on their phone and order directly, as opposed to downloading an app. Our customer success and marketing team equips every one of our partners with the toolkit and marketing materials to promote the service both before and during the event. You can check out some of the in-venue marketing best practices here.
The above blog is a quick summary of what we covered in our latest live presentation. To watch the on-demand livestream, please visit this page.