Restaurant POS inside bar
We all want a full house. But catering to today’s consumer is about taking advantage of their habits – and increasingly, that’s eating at home.

For generations, couples, families and friends took to the streets on Friday and Saturday nights and “went out to eat.” And although it seems like reservations are harder to come by and a 1-2 hour wait for a table is commonplace, when you take a deeper look, data shows that traffic and revenue in many segments in the restaurant industry are flat or even down.

So where have all the diners gone?

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A reasonable restaurant owner might look at this data and be discouraged, but savvy owners will see – and, indeed, so many already are – the opportunity that is lurking here. If the customer isn’t coming to the restaurant, the restaurant needs to go to the customer. Online ordering must be a priority for restaurants.

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Of course, that’s easier said than done. For diners, delivery is simpler than ever: find the menu, click, pay and wait for your meal to turn up at your door. But the same attention hasn’t been given to the restaurant-side of the process: it is a clunky and time-consuming and sometimes unnecessarily expensive process to receive and manage take-out orders, either on the phone or online. No wonder that many in our industry view takeout and delivery as an opportunity cost rather than a pure opportunity.

Let’s break it down.

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But ignoring the diner desire can be perilous. Data shows that restaurants using online ordering have seen a 30% increase in their revenue. And new solutions are starting to come onto the market that streamlines the operational overhead associated with takeout and delivery. For instance, we just completed an integration between Breadcrumb POS by Upserve and Grubhub, which our customers immediately embraced. With the online delivery system integrated directly into the POS, overhead is reduced, mistakes are eliminated and throughput increases.

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Truly, the biggest hurdle here is one of culture and tradition. This move isn’t just about restaurants adopting a new technology; it’s about an entire industry learning to shift and adapt to consumer behavior. The restaurants who are successful will be the ones who learn to meet and serve consumers wherever they are: from the local eatery and straight onto the comfort of their couch.

A diner’s definition of “grabbing a bite” may be changing, but that doesn’t have to spell wholesale disaster for restaurants. Smart owners will shift and evolve along with their diners, and embrace the “couch to table” trend as a way to grow revenue, win new loyalties and reestablish their place in consumers’ weekly meal habits.

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Rosie has worked in technology for more than 15 years and was a founding employee at Reel.com. Prior to joining Upserve, she held senior product leadership positions at Breadcrumb POS and OpenTable where she led product development. Rosie earned her B.A. from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Her first restaurant job was cleaning menu boards at her family’s restaurant on Nantucket Island.