Time and again, the restaurant industry has demonstrated its ability to quickly pivot and adapt to new challenges. During the COVID-19 pandemic, modern restaurants learned to bring the service, ambience, and aesthetics of their on-premise dining experience to the digital landscape — with creative technology solutions that showcased their brand’s unique flavor. 

Now, modern restaurants are continuing to embrace technology to provide customers with the seamless digital experience they increasingly prefer. In fact, 70% of customers expect restaurants to have an intuitive online ordering system, while 76% expect to find online ordering available on a restaurant’s branded mobile app. 

The future of digital dining begins with seamless experiences for both on- and off-premise customers — including convenient delivery offerings, optimized online ordering platforms, and effective website marketing. Read on to learn five ways modern restaurants have created more efficient, intuitive, and high-tech operations — and how your restaurant can stay competitive in the digital age. 

1. Serving seamless delivery and pickup experiences

Now more than ever, customers are hungry for a convenient online ordering experience. In an April 2021 survey from DoorDash, 79% of customers said they ordered pickup at least twice in the past month, while 56% of people had also ordered delivery at least twice in the past month. As a result, modern restaurants are strengthening their off-premise offerings to give customers the most satisfying digital dining experience. Every restaurant is unique, which is why DoorDash offers a variety of off-premise products to meet your needs. 

For example, featuring your business on DoorDash allows you to provide the delivery and pickup options that diners expect, while giving you access to a new customer base. In fact, 75% of restaurants agree that DoorDash has helped them to reach new customers. We offer three tiers of Partnership Plans with different price points based on your business goals.

Already have a team of delivery drivers on staff? DoorDash can help you reach new customers with Self-Delivery, which allows you to feature your restaurant on DoorDash while fulfilling deliveries in-house for a reduced commission.

If you’re looking to get access to on-demand Dashers to deliver orders placed on your own online ordering system, consider Drive from DoorDash.  Our white-label delivery solution includes an innovative logistics platform that allows you to request a driver at any time, track your orders, and maintain your branding. 

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2. Providing digital menus and payment options 

If you’ve been out to eat lately, you probably pulled up a menu on your phone using a QR code. This technology allows consumers to scan menus with their smartphone instead of a physical menu — an intriguing way of quickly sharing your offerings with guests, perhaps even as they walk by your restaurant. 

While the traditional dining experience involves a menu that your server physically hands to you, modern restaurants recognize that QR code technology is an efficient, sustainable, and pandemic-friendly way of serving consumers. What’s more, it allows customers to view high-quality photos of your dishes without having to visit another app, like Instagram. 

Jack Serfass, CEO of food and beverage software company Uptown Network, argues that this new technology could endure for the long term: “I don’t think paper menus are coming back,” he said. “Post-pandemic, I think we will see more tablet menus with guests having a choice of a sanitized tablet or their phone.”

In the same vein as contactless ordering, modern restaurants have also adopted mobile payment options that allow people to pay from their table. Many of these payment options encourage guests to tip a set percentage, even on pickup orders — a feature that your staff will enjoy.  

These small adjustments to the dining experience can increase operational efficiency, since guests aren’t waiting for a server to order or pay. They also improve order accuracy, considering consumers are deciding exactly what they want and ordering it directly from a device. 

3. Adding intuitive online ordering options

Modern restaurants have increased digital ordering opportunities for their guests to make dining more convenient and efficient. Dine-in guests today can order from an app, tablet, or kiosk in-store, and off-premise customers can place a pickup or delivery order from the comfort of home. This is an excellent way to minimize miscommunications between guests and servers, provide a frictionless payment process, and entice new guests with a compelling, interactive digital experience. 

It’s essential that modern restaurants are prepared with intuitive digital ordering systems from either their website or an app, considering guests are looking for an easy-to-use online experience. In 2020, 11% of sales at quick-service restaurants came from mobile orders and 90% of customers do research online before they decide where to eat.

But what exactly does a seamless online ordering experience look like? A compelling online ordering platform begins with brand customization, appealing visual elements, ease of use, and a mobile-friendly format. With so many customers turning to the internet to satisfy their next craving, modern restaurants need to capture the sales potential of online traffic and encourage first-time customers to come back for seconds. 

Wondering how to build a sleek and efficient online ordering platform? With DoorDash Storefront, you can create a seamless online ordering experience by adding delivery and pickup ordering to your existing website — to convert website visitors into paying customers. Storefront only takes a few minutes to set up, and orders are commission-free.

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4. Building digital waitlists 

Digital waitlists, or the ability for guests to add their name online and receive text or email notifications when their on-premise table is ready, have taken off as restaurants continue to optimize their front of house for convenience and efficiency. 

For modern restaurants, this technological solution is two-sided: it helps guests avoid unnecessary lines and wait times, while also helping restaurant operators prepare for and manage influxes of diners. This is especially conducive to businesses that don’t take reservations since operators can gauge how many walk-in guests they’re expecting in the next hour, prepare tables accordingly, and communicate more efficiently as a team. 

5. Leveraging kitchen display systems

Kitchen display systems are also on the rise, as modern restaurants seek to improve order accuracy, consistency, and efficiency. This digital screen allows the kitchen staff to track incoming orders and communicate more effectively with front of house staff, helping to avoid errors and improve accuracy.

What’s more — you can integrate both your dine-in and online orders into one cohesive management system so kitchen staff can rely on one system instead of multiple printers and tablets. Not only is this easier on your staff, but it also ensures consistently delicious food and correct orders for your customers. 

6. Launching online loyalty programs 

One way to encourage repeat customers and build brand loyalty? Offer your guests perks for their ongoing support. In fact, 57% of consumers spend more on brands to which they are loyal. Loyalty programs reward your customers for repeat business with complimentary beverages and meals, unique dining experiences, or even customized swag — the possibilities for creativity are endless. 

Many modern restaurants are attracting loyal customers with easy-to-use, digital rewards systems. Unlike traditional paper punch cards, customers never have to worry if they forgot their rewards at home — they simply display an app on their phones or use a stored credit card to accumulate points. It's essential that your online loyalty program is digital-friendly, considering 79% of Americans are more likely to join a rewards program that doesn’t require them to carry a physical card.

The potential for repeat sales also depends on the structure of your program. Are loyalty points easily redeemable? Does your program offer something unique and exclusive? Does your staff know the ins and outs of the program? These are important questions to consider before rolling out your loyalty program. 

But remember: Your loyalty program is only as successful as your marketing. Restaurant owners recommend strengthening your web presence, tapping into the power of social media, and prioritizing hospitality in order to drive loyalty program sign-ups. 

The evolution of modern restaurants

In the face of unique and unprecedented challenges, modern restaurants revolutionized the way people dine with smart, tech-savvy solutions. From contactless ordering and payments to more efficient online systems for delivery and pickup, the restaurant industry has consistently adapted to consumer preferences with innovation and creativity. 

Need help navigating in today’s digital landscape? Consider partnering with DoorDash to grow your business with marketing tools, online ordering, and a powerful logistics platform. 

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author-saradeforest
Sara DeForest
Copywriter

Sara DeForest is a Bay Area-based freelance copywriter. Previously, she was VP of Marketing at an early stage startup that was named one of Fast Company's Most Innovative Companies. Prior to that, Sara was a content marketer at Hewlett Packard Enterprise. Though Silicon Valley is a roller coaster, Sara finds her real adrenaline rush doing standup comedy.