How technology can offer the freedom and flexibility to grow

The last few years have been eventful to say the least. With businesses starting to come out the other side of the pandemic, we’ve been hit with a perfect storm; a cost of living crisis and lower consumer confidence. With the outlook seeming so bleak, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. And honestly, we wouldn’t blame you. But we know the Hospitality Industry is built of tough stuff. We adapt, we move and we keep going.

A hugely important enabler of this ability to adapt in recent years has been technology. And we’re not just talking about technology as a quick fix solution to the pandemic. Whilst we might have seen a jump in restaurants and cafes choosing to enter into the world of online ordering in 2020, we fundamentally believe technology is a long term solution offering businesses the freedom and flexibility to build real and sustainable growth.

Freedom to grow is truly a necessity in the hospitality industry. Navigating the current climate is not an easy task, but tech such as online ordering can give you the flexibility to do so. Whether you choose to provide delivery or offer click and collect is up to you. You might have started out utilising marketplaces to get your name out there and you might now be looking at the long term and exploring direct to consumer (D2C). So how does online ordering present you with the freedom and flexibility to grow your business?

More customers at your fingertips

Having an online ordering system gives you access to so many more customers. People that may not have previously been able to access your venue or those that simply want to enjoy your product at home. Without having an online presence you are relying solely on those who can or are prepared to come to you. Face to face hospitality is always going to be a core part of your business, that personal experience and service is why we got into the industry in the first place. But technology can open up new channels and opportunities.

More customers mean more sales. This is about giving customers the flexibility to order from you how and where they want to. You might be thinking ‘what if online orders take away from my brick and mortar sales’. But we really don’t believe that to be the case. Recent consumer research, conducted by Slerp in conjunction with KAM Media, actually showed the opposite. Almost half of people stated a positive online experience would make them more likely to visit the venue in person. With 74% of people saying they order in to replace cooking, not eating out.

Stay in control with D2C

Just to recap, D2C means direct to consumer. Essentially it cuts out the middleman and allows businesses to own the online ordering process. Marketplaces definitely have a part to play in your digital strategy, but not your long term one. If you’re looking for true freedom and flexibility, D2C is where it’s at. Marketplaces help you get your name out there and provide building blocks for online ordering. D2C builds brand identity and long term growth.

Slerp, an online ordering system, built by hospitality for hospitality, provides the tech to help businesses grow. It is essentially a white label process. Unlike marketplaces, where the transaction takes place on a third party site, with Slerp the customer orders and transacts on the venues own website, they see a platform which is fully branded with the venues logos and colours (with very little evidence that it is supported by Slerp). Slerp’s role is to operate behind the scenes, looking after the tech and allowing businesses to do what they do best, hospitality!

Not only are the commissions significantly lower (under 10% compared to an average of 30%), but businesses can maintain brand identity. With D2C, it’s your platform, your brand, your choice. In the case of D2C, it really is the flexibility and freedom that make it the perfect technology for growth. Give your customers an efficient and personalised experience and watch your online orders soar.

Another way for your customer to order

If nothing else, technology opens your business up to another sales channel. Online ordering has your back when you might not be able to open in person. If the pandemic taught us nothing else, it’s the importance of having a plan B. Technology gives you the flexibility to continue serving your customers.

But really, online ordering shouldn’t just be a backup. It should be a big part of your business, customers want and expect it. And if they can’t find it from you, they don’t just give up, they go elsewhere. 26% of UK shoppers went on to purchase the same item with a different retailer after abandoning a cart.

Drive repeat business

Technology doesn’t have to mean online vs in person, it can be fluid across both. It is an excellent tool for driving repeat business. Make it quick and easy for your customers to order and they’ll come back again and again. Of course new business is important, but did you know that 70% of orders come from only 30% of your customers? So invest in those relationships that truly matter.

One way you can do this is through loyalty. We’re not talking about paper stamp cards, we’re talking about a sophisticated digital loyalty program. Once you're comfortable with online ordering, introducing aspects like loyalty is where you can really start to utilise tech for growth. We all love to be rewarded or made to feel special. You can entice customers in with an offer and watch them come back for more.

There are many benefits to combining loyalty and tech. It’s both people and planet friendly. You no longer have to waste paper printing cards that people lose. And you no longer have to spend money constantly printing. And printing is expensive!

Final thoughts

Moving with the times can be intimidating. Nobody loves change, but with businesses like Slerp to support you along the road, it doesn’t need to be scary. Technology has been improving and advancing hospitality for years. Ultimately a slick and efficient tech is what your customers want and expect. And as we’ve explored, it's a brilliant tool for driving flexibility, freedom and ultimately, growth.

More about Slerp

Slerp enables hospitality businesses to provide a fully branded D2C (direct to consumer) online ordering experience for their customers through their website, on mobile and via their own app. Operating behind the scenes, Slerp provides the tech so that businesses can focus on hospitality. The platform allows operators to grow with full flexibility and independence.