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Product
Jul 17, 2024
5
 min read

We break down the top product enhancements released in Q2 2024, including Order with Google enhanced redirect, marketing A/B testing, POS menu builder, and modifier images.

Summer Release, Product Release, Olo Features

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To celebrate 19 years of innovation, Olo rolled out 19 future-focused product enhancements in Q2 2024 to help restaurant brands increase orders, streamline operations, and improve guest experiences.

Keep scrolling to learn about our biggest feature updates and check out our Summer Release page to view the full list of product enhancements.

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Order with Google enhanced redirect 

What it is: An Olo integration that enables guests using Google Search or Maps to easily find and order directly from your brand

How it works: When guests click the “Order Online" button in your Google Business Profile, they are redirected to your restaurant brand's website to complete their order.

Why it matters: This new integration replaces the embedded Google ordering experience, which allows guests to build a cart and order via a restaurant’s Google listing. It will enable you to increase revenue, improve the guest experience, and collect more actionable, first-party guest data.

How restaurants benefit: Olo’s enhanced redirect drives more direct orders by automatically sending Google the richest menu data, accurate quote times, estimated fees, and other guest-centric information. You control the ordering experience and open the door to new, incremental guests—without the burden of establishing and maintaining the integration. Most importantly, you own your guest data and can use it to better serve, recover, and market to guests.

How guests benefit: Guests can easily find restaurants in their area and enjoy the frictionless direct ordering experience they crave.

Marketing A/B testing for email campaigns

What it is: A new way to test, analyze, and optimize subject lines and body content for better email performance

How it works: You can create email tests to see which subject line or content has the best guest engagement. Olo’s Marketing solution will automatically create randomized test groups from the applicable segment or list for each campaign, produce a comparison report, and push the majority of sends to the winning variation.

Why it matters: Resource-strapped marketing teams need an easy way to identify and replicate high-converting email content to drive orders, visit frequency, and long-term loyalty. 

How restaurants benefit: Be more efficient and effective with your communication strategy by ensuring your marketing messages resonate with guests. You can then take those learnings and leverage what’s working to grow your business.

How guests benefit: Guests receive restaurant marketing communications featuring content and offers they care about.

POS menu builder for brands using Toast

What it is: A time-saving service that enables brands on Toast POS to import menu items— rather than build each by hand

How it works: The POS menu builder can use the data already configured in your POS to build and map your initial menu, kickstarting your deployment.

Why it matters: Menu building can be time-consuming and delay other parts of the deployment process. What used to take brands weeks of manual work can now be done automatically in less than a day.

How restaurants benefit: New and existing Olo customers can launch menus quickly and painlessly. You can now spend time refining your menu and working on other deployment deliverables instead of data entry. 

How guests benefit: The faster your menu is built, the sooner your guests can experience it.

Capacity management rules engine

What it is: Customizable rules to determine the lead time for orders

How it works: You can set business rules to supplement your existing capacity management settings. For example, “Do not allow orders over $1,000” or “If subtotal is greater than $500, add 20 minutes.” These rules will help determine the lead time for orders.

Why it matters: Some existing methods for determining lead time are inflexible and consider a limited set of factors impacting when an order can be ready. Restaurant operations—especially at high-volume enterprise brands—are often more complex and require supplemental rules for staff to stay on top of orders.

How restaurants benefit: You can optimize operations, prevent your kitchen staff from becoming overwhelmed, and manage guest expectations about when their food will be ready.

How guests benefit: Guests receive fresh food, on time, every time.

Order recent items

What it is: A new way for guests to quickly reorder their favorite menu items

How it works: When a guest is logged in, four recently purchased menu items—displayed in order of frequency and accompanied by images and prices—appear above the fold for seamless reordering.

Why it matters: Convenience and personalization are paramount for digital-first guests. By putting their favorite menu items at the forefront of the ordering process, you can make guests feel known and enable them to fill their carts and check out quickly.

How restaurants benefit: You can improve the guest experience, increase basket size, and drive conversion by eliminating friction and personalizing the ordering process.

How guests benefit: Guests can quickly access and reorder their favorite menu items without combing through the menu. 

Modifier images

What it is: Additional imagery to help guests visualize their order

How it works: Brands using Olo Serve can now assign images to modifiers—including sauces, drinks, and more—via the Menu Image Management (MIM) tool in the Olo dashboard so guests can visualize their order as they build their cart.

Why it matters: Many restaurant guests eat with their eyes. Appetizing modifier imagery can create a more appealing online menu and mirror the dine-in experience.

How restaurants benefit: Imagery can enhance your off-premise guest experience by boosting engagement, providing visual cues, and increasing basket size.

How guests benefit: Guests can see every aspect of their meal as they customize it and order with confidence.

Easier Catering+ order management

What it is: New tools to adjust and pay for catering orders

How it works: Restaurant operators can quickly access and edit catering orders, apply one-time discounts, and enable guests to use the Switchboard payment portal instead of reciting credit card information over the phone.

Why it matters: Considering the average catering ticket today is $350—10x the average mealtime ticket of $35—a seamless ordering and payment experience for catering guests is key to maximizing restaurant revenue.

How restaurants benefit: These new tools eliminate workarounds and streamline catering operations so you can increase guest satisfaction and drive repeat business.

How guests benefit: Catering guests can easily place large orders and pay without worrying about the security of their payment information.

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Getting started

Visit our Summer Release page for a full list of product enhancements released in Q2 2024. Olo customers can reach out to their CSMs to learn more about these features and how to put them to good use. 

Not using Olo yet? Contact our team to start a conversation.

Product
Apr 11, 2024
2
 min read

Learn about the top product enhancements released in Q1 2024, including smart cross-sells, Catering+ production sheets, fundraiser coupons, and more.

Spring Release, Product Release, Olo Features

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In Q1 2024, Olo rolled out 13 major product enhancements across Order, Pay, and Engage to help restaurant operators unlock new revenue streams and create more seamless, convenient guest experiences.

Keep scrolling for a deep dive into our three most significant enhancements—how they work, why they matter, and who benefits.

Head to the Spring Release page for the complete list of new features and to watch Olo’s product experts unveil them onstage at Beyond4. You’ll also learn about the general availability of card-present payments via kiosk, plus how OrderReady AI—one of our Summer 2023 product enhancements—has positively impacted P.F. Chang’s.

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Smart cross-sells


What it is:
Dynamic, personalized menu suggestions for guests powered by AI

How it works: Smart cross-sells leverage machine learning to provide personalized menu suggestions directly in the guest’s cart.

Why it matters: By intelligently recommending items based on contextual factors such as order history, location menu, and current cart contents, smart cross-sells eliminate the struggle of navigating extensive menus, increase guest engagement, and lead to higher average transactions.

How restaurants benefit:
This new ordering feature empowers brands to increase guest engagement and average order value (AOV) by providing personalized suggestions to guests during the ordering and checkout process—with no manual implementation or upkeep.

How guests benefit:
Guests receive helpful suggestions tailored to their preferences during the ordering process, which reduces the time spent navigating the menu.

Catering+ production sheets


What it is:
An intuitive interface that allows brands to map ingredients and related quantities to products in the menu

How it works: Production sheets can be used by kitchens to prep for large-volume orders—or quantify the ingredients and items needed to fulfill upcoming orders for a given period.

Why it matters: Catering orders require careful planning and coordination, including pre-arranged ingredient quantities and necessary utensils, packaging, and display. Catering+ production sheets make it easier to stay organized.

How restaurants benefit:
This new Catering+ feature enables kitchen and operating staff to prepare and execute catering orders efficiently.

How guests benefit:
Guests can rest assured their catering orders will include everything they paid for.

Related: The Catering Boom: 7 Reasons Your Restaurant Can't Afford to Miss Out

Fundraiser coupons


What it is: A seamless way for restaurants to facilitate local fundraisers via online ordering

How it works:
Brands can create a unique coupon code for each fundraiser and reconcile it within the Olo Dashboard.

Why it matters:
Restaurants can positively impact the communities they serve by empowering local businesses to raise funds through online ordering.

How restaurants benefit:
This feature saves restaurant marketers time and streamlines operations by enabling them to track and reconcile fundraiser campaigns directly within the Olo Dashboard.

How guests benefit:
Businesses and other organizations can easily raise funds for charitable causes by partnering with restaurants in their community.

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Getting started


Visit our Spring Release page for a full list of product enhancements released in Q1 2024. Olo customers can reach out to their CSMs to learn more about these features and how to put them to good use. 

Not using Olo yet? Contact our team to start a conversation.

Product
Jan 25, 2024
3
 min read

Discover the top product enhancements released in Q4 2023, including tax-exempt status for Catering+, split checks and survey integrations for pay at table, and expanded availability of Borderless checkout.

Winter Release, Product Release

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As annual results come in and 2024 strategies get set, restaurant operators are looking for innovative ways to reach and delight new guests. In Q4 2023, Olo unveiled eight major product enhancements designed to help brands unlock new revenue streams and create more seamless, convenient ordering experiences.

Keep scrolling for a deep dive into our three most significant enhancements—how they work, why they matter, and who benefits.

For a complete list of new features and to hear what Olo COO Jo Lambert is most excited about, head to the Winter Release page. There you’ll also see the positive impact of one of our Fall 2023 product enhancements: Olo Pay’s Automated Dispute Response feature.

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Catering+: Tax-Exempt Status


What it is:
Catering+ can now recognize and authenticate tax-exempt status within the Olo Dashboard.

How it works: Users can authorize tax-exempt status for guests, validate expiration dates on file, apply appropriate pricing, and complete catering orders for tax-exempt organizations.

Why it matters: To fully capitalize on catering demand, restaurant brands must be able to tap into the critical segment of 1.7 million registered tax-exempt organizations in the U.S.

How restaurants benefit:
Many brands today manually adjust and record tax exemption for catering orders, causing inefficiency and compliance issues. This new feature unlocks a larger segment of the catering market for restaurants and makes tax-exemption management more efficient.

How guests benefit:
Tax-exempt organizations, like nonprofit, civic, and religious entities, can now easily place catering orders from their favorite restaurant brands.

Pay at Table: Split Checks and Survey Integrations

What it is: 

  • Split checks: Using pay at table, dine-in guests can split the bill however they choose—without the help of a server.
  • Survey integrations: Once the bill has been paid, restaurants can survey guests on their experience to gather valuable feedback in real time.


How it works: 

  • Split checks: Guests scan a QR code on their receipt and can elect to split the bill equally, split by items, or define specific amounts to be paid by each guest. 
  • Survey integrations: Customers using Sentiment can now integrate with pay at table to trigger post-transaction surveys and get in-the-moment feedback on the guest experience.


Why it matters:
 

  • Split checks: Splitting the check multiple ways is a high friction point for servers and guests. The process is typically time-consuming, manual, and requires multiple steps. 
  • Survey integrations: One of the biggest benefits of digitizing on-premise orders is collecting guest insights. Yet, post-transaction feedback is traditionally difficult to obtain.


How restaurants benefit:
 

  • Split checks: By creating a frictionless on-premise checkout experience, restaurant brands can boost guest satisfaction, tips, and table turnover.
  • Survey integrations: Surveys enable restaurants to demonstrate they value guest feedback and use those actionable insights to improve the business.


How guests benefit: 

  • Split checks: Whether guests are dining with a group or splitting the check with a date, they can now pay using their mobile device—with their digital wallet, if desired—and easily divvy up the bill.
  • Survey integrations: Guests get the opportunity to provide feedback while it’s fresh in their minds and potentially shape future dining experiences.

Borderless Checkout: Expanded Availability

What it is: Olo’s Borderless checkout feature is now available to all customers using Serve, our white-label online ordering solution.

How it works:
Borderless was built to make the restaurant checkout process as quick and simple as possible. The first time guests enter their payment and contact details, they can save that information for future use.

Because that information is saved at the platform level, guests can speed through checkout for each subsequent purchase—with that restaurant brand or others in the Borderless network—without having to remember a password or re-enter information. All they have to do is enter their email address or phone number and input the one-time code they receive to verify their identity and authenticate the purchase.

Why it matters: Digital-first guests demand a secure and frictionless checkout experience. But until now, Borderless checkout was only available to brands on Olo Pay. With this expanded availability, more brands can meet guest expectations for a seamless checkout experience and maximize digital sales.

How restaurants benefit:
Brands using Serve have seen increases in checkout conversion and order frequency with Borderless—at no additional cost.

How guests benefit:
Guests can securely speed through checkout without the hassle of recalling passwords or manually entering payment information. And, because of our integration with loyalty partners on Serve, guests can earn and redeem loyalty rewards while using Borderless.

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Getting Started


Visit our Winter Release page for a full list of all product enhancements released in Q4 2023. Olo customers can reach out to their CSMs to learn more about these features and how to put them to good use. 


Not using Olo yet? Contact our team to start a conversation.

Product
Dec 21, 2023
3
 min read

As we close out 2023, here’s a quick look at the top product enhancements we released in each suite: Order, Pay, and Engage.

Product Features

In 2023, Team Olo worked hard to enable hospitality at scale for our restaurant brand customers by releasing 40+ product enhancements across our three product suites: Order, Pay, and Engage.

Each feature solves common pain points experienced by restaurants today and sets our customers up for success in the future. Here are the top product enhancements we unveiled this year—and, most importantly, how restaurants and guests benefit. 

Order

1. Catering+ with House Accounts

Pain Point: Lack of integration between other ordering and catering solutions creates friction in the guest experience and makes order management challenging

Solution: Enterprise-grade catering solution that integrates seamlessly with existing mealtime ordering platforms and all major POS systems

Benefits: Restaurant brands can capitalize on catering demand and generate more revenue via a robust ordering engine with simplified order management. Additionally, with House Accounts, brands can offer flexible payment options to repeat catering guests.

2. Pay at Table

Pain Point: Restaurant staff have to do multiple table touches, and guests endure a long wait time for the check after finishing their meal

Solution: Guests pay and tip digitally by scanning a QR code with their mobile device

Benefits: Guests can experience the traditional hospitality of ordering through a server—without the hassle of waiting on a check after eating. Frictionless guest experience = happy, repeat guests. Additionally, Pay at Table increases efficiency and guest data collection for the restaurant brand.

3. OrderReady AI

Pain Point: Inaccurate order ready-time predictions produced by manual input

Solution: Machine-learning-based capacity management solution that generates highly accurate ready-time predictions using current capacity and detailed check data in real-time

Benefits: Brands can satisfy guest and partner expectations around timing, maintain food quality, and optimize restaurant operations. Additionally, this feature eliminates the need for manual inputs, guesswork, and ongoing management. In turn, guests know exactly when to pick up their food so it’s fresh, and they’ll spend less time waiting, which increases satisfaction.

Pay

1. Automated Fraud Dispute

Pain Point: Given the time-consuming nature and traditionally low win rate for chargebacks, restaurant brands often leave disputes uncontested—resulting in lost revenue

Solution: Olo Pay's Automated Fraud Dispute feature automatically responds to certain unaddressed disputes using Olo’s internal ordering data

Benefits: This feature increases chargeback response and win rates while eliminating the need for any manual intervention by the restaurant brand. It enables the brand to keep more revenue and spend less on battling fraud.

2. Card-Present Payments via Kiosk

Pain Point: Labor challenges and complicated payment processes

Solution: A fully branded, self-service kiosk that enables restaurants to accept card-present payments through Olo Pay

Benefits: Card-present payments via kiosk help restaurants conquer labor challenges, boost on-premise ticket size, and begin processing 100% of orders through digital channels. Brands also enjoy simplified reconciliation, refunding, and voiding processes.

How Sprinkles meets the needs of digital-first guests

Engage

1. AI Creative Assistant

Pain Point: It’s difficult to create engaging restaurant marketing content at scale, especially as resource-strapped brands struggle to balance multiple priorities

Solution: A generative AI tool built right into the Email Design Editor

Benefits: Marketing AI Creative Assistant reduces the time it takes to go from idea to campaign execution. Using starter prompts, AI Creative Assistant enables marketers to quickly generate compelling copy within the Email Design Editor, which can easily be refined to match the brand’s voice.

2. Computed Properties

Pain Point: Restaurants want to better understand and serve guests but can’t effectively collect, analyze, or act on guest data

Solution: Computed Properties, a feature of Olo’s Guest Data Platform (GDP), are guest-level calculations kept up-to-date as guests interact with a restaurant brand, such as the number of orders in the last 30 days.

Benefits: With Computed Properties, brands can create robust guest segmentation, personalize marketing communications to maximize ROI, and pass valuable guest insights to other systems in their tech stack.

If you’re already an Olo customer, connect with your Customer Success Manager to find out how to implement these features. If you’re not using Olo yet, reach out to our team of restaurant experts.

Product
Oct 12, 2023
5
 min read

Learn about the four most significant product enhancements released by Olo in Q3—including how they work, why they matter, and who will benefit.

Fall Release, Product Release

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In Q3, Olo introduced 11 new features across our three product suites: Order, Pay, and Engage. These customer-driven product enhancements are designed to boost guest acquisition, retention, and operational efficiency.

Keep scrolling for a detailed breakdown of our four most significant enhancements—how they work, why they matter, and who benefits.

To watch the release video and see a complete list of new features, visit our Fall Release page.

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Catering+ with House Accounts

What it is: An enterprise-ready catering platform that includes robust ordering, management, and payments, including House Accounts

How it works: The process of placing a catering order is the same as a mealtime order. Guests select the handoff mode and location, schedule the order, and then submit. Brands can easily manage catering orders within the same Olo Dashboard as all other orders—plus, create House Accounts for VIPs. Simply set up net terms and extend a line of credit so your regulars can order catering today and pay later.

Why it matters: Catering is predicted to be one of the top-growth sales channels over the next year, with high-value orders averaging $350/transaction. Olo’s enterprise-ready Catering+ works alongside our core mealtime ordering solution to sync up operations and enable restaurants to tap into a new, high-margin revenue stream.

How restaurants benefit: With Catering+, you can manage all orders in the same, intuitive Olo Dashboard you use for mealtime orders. Already integrated with many POS systems and loyalty programs, Catering+ is a great way to drive more direct digital orders and avoid costly delivery commissions. Additionally, House Accounts enable you to reward VIPs with a better guest experience and streamlined purchasing process. 

How guests benefit: Guests can place catering orders directly from the restaurant brands they know and trust. Regulars can order today and pay later with a House Account.

Order with Google

What it is: An easy way for guests to order directly from your restaurant brand—without leaving Google Search or Maps

How it works: Your restaurant’s digital menu is syndicated to Google via Olo. Ordering options appear in your Google Business Profile on Search and Maps. Accurate orders are sent directly to your POS and processed just like website or app orders. Your brand captures guest data for remarketing and fostering long-term loyalty.

Why it matters: On average, 81% of guests who order from a restaurant on Google have never placed a direct digital order from them before. And of that 81%, 16% place subsequent orders directly through the restaurant’s website. Additionally, 20% of Order with Google guests reorder from the same brand via Google.

How restaurants benefit: Restaurants that offer a seamless Order with Google experience benefit from increased discoverability, conversion rates, and guest acquisition. Since orders placed via Google Search and Maps are equivalent to direct orders made on your website or app, you own your guest relationship and data, enabling you to better understand, serve, and market to guests.

How guests benefit: Guests using Google Search or Maps to locate restaurants or particular dishes in their area can easily find and order directly from brands—without having to navigate to a different website or app. Fewer clicks = happier guests.

Enhanced Sentiment Module

What it is: A holistic reputation management platform designed to help restaurants aggregate and respond to reviews before they impact sales

How it works: Sentiment aggregates guest feedback from popular review sites across the web, including Facebook, Google, and Yelp, into a single dashboard, so you can easily organize, escalate, and respond to feedback. 

The sentiment analysis tool makes it easy to filter reviews by source, location, date, rating, keywords, etc. to better understand what’s driving positive and negative experiences. You can also leverage generative AI, personalization, and pre-approved response libraries to ensure brand consistency in your replies.

Why it matters: Many restaurant brands struggle to reliably monitor and engage with guest feedback at scale. There are countless feedback channels to manage and it can be difficult to unlock actionable insights. Sentiment eliminates all of these pain points in one user-friendly platform.

How restaurants benefit: Made for multi-location restaurant brands, Sentiment helps brands listen, analyze, and adapt to feedback in real time—without having to log into review platforms one by one. You can leverage these aggregated insights to foster brand loyalty, win back unhappy guests, and turn review sites into reliable acquisition channels.

How guests benefit: When restaurant brands reply to reviews—positive and negative—guests feel seen and appreciated. Additionally, it signals to prospective guests that the brand prioritizes guest satisfaction.

Marketing AI Creative Assistant

What it is: A feature within the Email Design Editor that enables brands using Olo Marketing to quickly generate content at scale

How it works: Powered by OpenAI and built directly into our Email Design Editor, AI Creative Assistant can be accessed from four content modules: Title, Paragraph, List, and Button. 

Within the build preview for each content module, you can click the “Write with AI” button and tell AI Creative Assistant exactly what you’re looking for (e.g., “a click-worthy subject line about launching catering”). You can then decide to use the generated copy as is, make it your own, or create a new prompt.

Why it matters: Busy restaurant marketers often don’t have the bandwidth to write and test email copy to see what converts. AI Creative Assistant was built to help you do more with less.

How restaurants benefit: AI Creative Assistant enables you to maximize your marketing output and supercharge your creativity with artificial intelligence. Use starter prompts to quickly generate copy, so you can focus your energy on analyzing campaign results and optimizing for conversion.

How guests benefit: Restaurant guests who opt into marketing communications want to hear from your brand. By leveraging AI Creative Assistant, you can ensure they receive clear, consistent, on-brand emails about your latest offerings, pickup options, social channels, loyalty program, and more at a regular cadence.

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Getting Started

Visit our Fall Release page to watch the release video and learn about all 11 of our recent product enhancements. If you’re already an Olo customer, reach out to your Customer Success Manager with any questions and to find out how to implement these features. If you’re not using Olo yet, request a demo to start the conversation.

Product
Aug 8, 2023
3
 min read

Restaurants have begun using AI in innovative ways—from the drive-thru to kitchen automation. Now it’s restaurant marketers’ turn. Learn how to supercharge your content creation with Olo’s AI Creative Assistant.

AI, Restaurant Marketing, AI Creative Assistant

The restaurant industry continues to go through a period of significant transformation, with brands attempting to adapt to changes in guest behavior, staffing shortfalls, and increased pressure on margins.

While each brand has unique struggles based on its size, category, and concept, one feeling appears to be universal: there simply aren’t enough hours in the day to accomplish everything on the to-do list. 

Artificial intelligence (AI) is changing that.

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The Rise of AI in the Restaurant Industry

In the not-too-distant past, AI felt like an abstract concept. Today it’s practically impossible not to hear about or engage with it.

ChatGPT reached 100 million monthly active users just two months after launch, making it the fastest-growing consumer application in history. MarketsandMarkets now projects the overall AI market size to grow to $407 billion by 2027.

It’s not just large tech companies like Google and Microsoft riding the AI wave. Restaurants have begun using AI in innovative ways, too. QSRs like CKE are piloting conversational AI in their drive-thrus. Chipotle is using AI and robotics to perfect its chips. Yum Brands leverages AI to automate the kitchen flow.

Olo has also been an early adopter of AI, helping customers optimize operations and the guest experience with restaurant-specific solutions. 

And now, with the introduction of AI Creative Assistant, we’re enabling restaurants to scale their marketing efforts.

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How Restaurant Marketers Can Use AI to Supercharge Their Content Creation

Olo’s AI Creative Assistant is designed to save restaurant marketers time and enhance their creativity by leveraging powerful generative AI to turn content ideas into compelling copy. 

Built directly into our Email Design Editor, users simply provide starter prompts and AI Creative Assistant will instantly draft relevant, attention-grabbing copy. Users can then refine the suggested copy to match their brand’s voice, tone, preferred length, and styling within the intuitive interface.

Keep scrolling to find out how you can use AI Creative Assistant to reduce your workload.

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Four Use Cases for AI Creative Assistant

The next time you’re tasked with writing a restaurant marketing email, AI Creative Assistant can help you work smarter in four ways:

1) Generating Headlines: Brainstorm ideas for concise, catchy titles that will drive guests to read more.

Example Starter Prompts

  • Write a short title for a new [item] on our restaurant's menu
  • Create a title promoting [exclusive offer/discount] with a compelling call-to-action (CTA)
  • Formulate a title that highlights the [exclusive offer/discount] that expires [expiration date]
  • Write a title for a [restaurant event] on [date] with a compelling CTA

2) Outlining Body Copy: Provide a few details about the essence of the campaign and let AI Creative Assistant craft high-converting email copy for you.

Example Starter Prompts

  • Write a brief paragraph about the launch of our new [menu item] featuring [selling points/ingredients]
  • Create body copy for a promotional email about [subject line or title]
  • Develop a short email to re-engage lapsed guests to our [concept type] encouraging them to come back

 

3) Creating Lists: Develop captivating bullet points that reinforce the main value propositions of the campaign and jump out to content skimmers. 

Example Starter Prompts

  • Explain why our [menu item] is better than others
  • Showcase the value and benefits of joining a [concept type] loyalty program
  • List reasons to subscribe to our [concept type] email newsletter

 

4) Inspiring Action: Develop engaging CTAs that are too irresistible for guests not to click.

Example Starter Prompts

  • Generate compelling CTA options for ordering our [menu item]
  • Generate a CTA suggestion for lapsed guest emails for our restaurant
  • Create a CTA for cross-selling [item] with [item]
  • Create a CTA for [target audience] to join our [concept] loyalty program

Download Olo's 2024 Restaurant Marketing Guide

Start Increasing Your Marketing Output with AI

The restaurant brands that understand, embrace, and leverage AI best will have a significant advantage moving forward. In fact, a McKinsey report on The Economic Potential of Generative AI estimated generative AI could increase the productivity of the marketing function with a value between 5 and 15 percent of total marketing spending. 

Whether you’re just getting started with AI or looking for additional ways to harness its power, the opportunity cost—from boosting creativity to reducing manual work—is too high for restaurant marketers to ignore. Treat AI as an extension of your team that can help you achieve your goals and do more with less.

Current Olo Marketing customers can learn more about AI Creative Assistant in the Help Center. Not a current customer? Contact our team of restaurant experts to learn how AI can help take your business to the next level. 

Photo by Canva Studio at Pexels

Product
Jul 24, 2023
4
 min read

To prepare for a passwordless future, restaurant brands need a refined approach to digital payments. Learn how Olo’s Borderless checkout feature leads to better guest experiences, more sign-ins, and more frequent purchases.

Borderless, Payments, Olo Pay

There’s little room for friction in the world of e-commerce—and that’s even more true in the restaurant industry. After all, guests turn to digital channels for convenience, and there’s no harder time to handle unexpected hurdles than when you’re hungry.

 

With the likes of Amazon, Shop Pay, and Bolt raising the bar for e-commerce checkouts, it’s no wonder 91% of consumers say a satisfying checkout experience significantly influences the likelihood they will return to a given merchant.

Keep reading to find out how the Borderless checkout feature of Olo Pay irons out some common wrinkles in the restaurant checkout process—so you can deliver a smoother ordering experience that leads to satisfied guests rather than abandoned carts.

 

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Why the Restaurant Industry Is Primed for a Passwordless Future

Recent research reveals the average person has roughly 100 passwords across their various online accounts. Even if the bulk of those are more likely to be reset than remembered due to lack of usage, it’s still a staggering amount.

It should come as no surprise that across all e-commerce segments, 42% of consumers prefer to use the “guest checkout” option when making a purchase. And even for those who do create an account, 75% use a burner email address, according to a 2022 study from Capterra. 

Restaurant guests are no different. Aside from frequent users and those looking to accrue and redeem loyalty rewards, most don’t want to add to their password pile by creating an account every time they order from a new brand. 

To eliminate friction in the checkout process, restaurant brands are beginning to adopt modern payment solutions similar to the ones guests have grown accustomed to within the traditional retail e-commerce segment. 

Olo’s Borderless checkout feature is one example. 

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How Olo’s Borderless Checkout Feature Works—and Why It Matters

Borderless was purpose-built to make the restaurant checkout process as quick and simple as possible. The first time guests enter their payment and contact details, they can save that information for future use. 

Because that information is saved at the platform level, guests can securely speed through checkout for each subsequent purchase—with that specific restaurant brand or others in the Borderless network they’ve never ordered from before—without having to remember a password or re-enter their information. All they have to do is enter their email address or phone number and then input the one-time code they receive to verify their identity and authenticate the purchase.

 

3 Ways Guests Benefit From Borderless

1. Easier Ordering

Guests want to complete their order, yet the average online shopping cart abandonment rate is nearly 70%. Two of the main reasons cited by consumers are mandatory account creation and a long/complicated checkout process. With Borderless, guests can speed through checkout without the hassle of recalling passwords or manually entering information.

2. Increased Security

Another often-cited concern about digital payments relates to security. With data breaches making headlines on a routine basis, it makes sense for guests to have second thoughts every time they’re asked to input their credit card information and try to limit the number of accounts they create. Borderless eliminates the need to re–enter payment information with each transaction and protects sensitive payment information through full PCI compliance.

3. Loyalty Rewards

We’ve integrated Borderless with loyalty partners on Serve to ensure guests can earn and redeem loyalty rewards while enjoying the passwordless login and accelerated checkout experience provided by Borderless. Additionally, guests who sign into their loyalty account can have their delivery address and payment details pre-filled from their Borderless account.

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Borderless in Practice: Din Tai Fung Case Study

Din Tai Fung was one of the first adopters of Olo's Borderless checkout feature. In the seven months following its implementation, 60,000 Din Tai Fung guests created a Borderless account. Since then, Borderless has positively impacted order frequency, guest sign-ins, and saved cards during checkout.

Lift in Orders Per Guest Using Borderless

Due to the convenient checkout process, existing guests who signed up with Borderless are likely to place 61% more orders throughout the year—or 1.5 more orders per existing guest—compared to those who have not signed up for Borderless.

Increase in Guest Sign-Ins

After Borderless was enabled, Din Tai Fung saw guest sign-ins (Olo legacy and Borderless) before placing an order jump from 31% to 65%—a 109% increase. This strong guest engagement has driven the increase in orders.

More Guests Saving Cards on File

With the introduction of Borderless, more Din Tai Fung guests are opting to save their credit cards on file for smoother checkouts in the future.

Download Olo's Payments Playbook

Ready for the Passwordless Future?  

As guest behaviors rapidly evolve, brands are ramping up investments across their tech stack to keep pace. Unfortunately, payment processing has largely remained a commodity and most legacy providers don’t meet the unique challenges posed within the restaurant industry. 

In the passwordless future, restaurant brands that offer a frictionless checkout will have a competitive advantage. Guests crave convenience as much as their favorite food items. Fortunately, you can give them both. 

Contact our team of restaurant experts to learn how Olo’s Borderless checkout feature can help you meet the needs of today’s digital-first guests.

Photo by Anete Lusina at Pexels

Product
Jul 13, 2023
4
 min read

Get a breakdown of the four most significant product enhancements released by Olo in Q2—including how they work, why they matter, and who will benefit.

Summer Release

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Each quarter, Olo launches a wave of product enhancements to help restaurant brands provide guests with superior hospitality and do more with less. During this year’s Summer Release Event, we unveiled 10 new features across our three product suites: Order, Pay, and Engage.

Here’s a breakdown of our four most significant enhancements—how they work, why they matter, and who benefits.

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Card-Present Payments Via Kiosk

What it is: A fully branded, self-service kiosk that enables restaurants to accept card-present payments through Olo Pay

How it works: Kiosks will use Olo’s ordering API coupled with Olo Pay. 

Guests can order through a kiosk with a digital menu. To check out, they can insert, swipe, or tap to pay through an attached payment terminal, which will accept major credit and debit cards and digital wallets. Guests can then choose to receive a text with their projected wait time and another when their order is ready. 

All card-present reports will be accessible directly through the Olo Dashboard, making payment management easier and more efficient than ever.

Why it matters: Olo Pay now brings all payments—card-present and card-not-present—onto one unified platform for streamlined management. 

How restaurants benefit: By leveraging self-service kiosks with Olo Pay, brands can combat labor challenges, boost ticket size through machine learning, process more orders digitally, and gain a deeper understanding of guests’ behavior. This expansion into card-present payments also simplifies reconciliation, refunding, and voiding processes. 

How guests benefit: Self-service kiosks provide guests with a seamless and intuitive ordering and checkout experience that doesn’t require interaction with an employee.

How Sprinkles meets the needs of digital-first guests

Borderless/Loyalty Linking

What it is: Borderless integration with loyalty partners on Serve

How it works: Guests can sign in with their Borderless account or their loyalty account and reap the benefits of both. 

If they sign in with Borderless, guests can earn and use loyalty rewards with their order, as indicated on the checkout page. Alternatively, if they sign in to their loyalty account instead of Borderless, all of their payment, contact, and delivery information will already be saved on file so

they don’t have to re-enter it.

Why it matters: Previously, Borderless could be enabled alongside loyalty sign-in. This meant guests had to choose to sign in with Borderless or through their loyalty account. As a result, guests could only experience the benefits of one or the other. Now, they get the best of both worlds.

How restaurants benefit: Brands can offer an elevated and frictionless guest experience that boosts loyalty program participation and guest satisfaction.

How guests benefit: Guests can earn and redeem loyalty rewards while enjoying the passwordless login and accelerated checkout experience provided by Borderless. Additionally, guests who sign into their loyalty account can have their delivery address and payment details pre-filled from their Borderless account.

OrderReady AI

What it is: Machine-learning-based, predictive capacity management 

How it works: Our predictive quoting model ingests current capacity and detailed check data in real-time to generate highly accurate ready-time predictions for use in the ordering flow.

Why it matters: Restaurant brands need to quote accurate order-ready times to their guests and delivery service providers. Our models achieved a quoting accuracy improvement of 20% compared to legacy quoting logic.

How restaurants benefit: Brands can satisfy guest and partner expectations around timing, maintain food quality, and optimize restaurant operations. Additionally, this feature eliminates the need for manual inputs, guesswork, and ongoing management.

How guests benefit: Guests know exactly when to pick up their food so it’s fresh and they’ll spend less time waiting, which increases satisfaction.

Automated Guest Refunds in Dispatch

What it is: Automatic refund process in Dispatch for failed third-party deliveries

How it works: Olo will automatically refund the guest if the following criteria are satisfied: the guest never received their order, the delivery was canceled due to DSPOtherReason, or the DSP has refunded the brand for the delivery. 

Why it matters: The majority of refunds DSPs issue to brands are not passed through to the guest. Guests who are not reimbursed for canceled deliveries have a poor experience and are less likely to order from the same brand again. 

How restaurants benefit: This new feature reduces manual work for operators and helps recover guests by automatically issuing a refund if the guest never received their order and the DSP has provided a full credit to the restaurant.

How guests benefit: Guests are quickly refunded after failed third-party deliveries.

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Check out our quarterly release page for more information about these and other recent product enhancements.

Olo customers can reach out to their CSM to learn more about new features and how to take advantage of them. Not using Olo yet? Contact our team to start a conversation.

Product
May 8, 2023
4
 min read

Our latest release, previewed at Beyond4, includes new ways to digitize in-store ordering and payment, enhanced order throttling, and the launch of Olo Connect.

Spring Release

Last quarter, we grew our product suite and enhanced our partner ecosystem to enable our customers to do more with less and make every guest feel like a regular. Scroll to learn about our all-new partner program and latest product enhancements—plus, how restaurant brands directly benefit.

Introducing our Spring Release:

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Olo Connect

Value-based partner program to accelerate innovation

Restaurant Benefit: Easily find the best solutions to scale your brand


Olo Connect is now live! Our new, tiered partner program was designed to help brands identify the best solutions to execute their goals and make it easier for developers to build on our platform. With support from over 300 technology partners, our ecosystem is an agile and flexible way for brands to adopt new and existing technology, without the hassle of building in-house or settling for a siloed technology stack.

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Open Check

Guests can order multiple times—with a single check

Restaurant Benefit: Higher check average and more guest data


With Open Check, guests can order at the table using their mobile device, order multiple times throughout their dining experience while keeping the check open, and pay from their device. The guest and the server can add menu items to the same check. All items ordered will show up on the guest's mobile device, allowing them to tip, make one final payment, and close the check—without waiting on a server.

Pay at Table

Guests pay and tip from their mobile device

Restaurant Benefit: Fewer table touches and more guest data


Guests can now order through a server, then pay and tip digitally by scanning a QR code with their mobile device. Pay at Table offers guests the traditional hospitality experience of interacting with a restaurant team member but eliminates the time spent waiting on the check after the meal. The server can then confirm the check is paid in the POS system. 

GDP for All

“Try Before You Buy” demo for our Guest Data Platform

Restaurant Benefit: Discover the possibilities with GDP—using your actual guest data


Olo Ordering customers can now experience the power of our Guest Data Platform firsthand. With our new “Try Before You Buy” demo you can view your brand’s unified guest profiles and timelines, segment creation and reporting, targeting and marketing use cases, and more to better understand how GDP enables you to collect, analyze, and act on your data.

Fraud Prevention

Additional risk signals and fraud reporting

Restaurant Benefit: More fraud reduction and visibility into blocked transactions


Olo Pay customers can now score and filter orders when deciding whether to approve a transaction, which improves targeting and identifying fraud patterns. In addition, fraud reporting insights provide more visibility into why specific orders are getting blocked.

Orders-in-Progress Throttling

Better kitchen capacity management

Restaurant Benefit: Manage kitchen throughput more precisely

Our new capacity management feature allows restaurants to cap the number of Olo orders that can be in progress at any given time. This enables brands to manage kitchen capacity beyond traditional methods such as orders-per-window and make-minutes-per-period.

Rails Self-Delivery

A new way to control the off-premise guest experience

Restaurant Benefit: Eliminate commission and delivery fees on large orders


Brands can now assign their own courier staff to self-deliver large, high-touch Rails orders, including catering. This flexibility enables you to maintain profitability and control the guest experience—communication, on-time delivery, placement, and set-up—when it matters most.

Fixed-Price Coupons

Simplified coupon creation

Restaurant Benefit: Increase orders and save time

Fixed-Price Coupons make implementing targeted discounts simpler than ever. Empower guests to order direct with compelling discounts that match on-premise offerings—without having to change menu pricing for all guests. Just set the special price for an item, group of items, or multiple categories of items; no manual calculations or complex workarounds are required.

Disable and Re-enable Ordering

Digital order management made easier

Restaurant Benefit: In a pinch, easily disable and re-enable online ordering


If there is an unanticipated surge in demand or an unfortunate kitchen malfunction, sometimes store operators need to temporarily disable incoming digital orders to provide a great guest experience. When those unexpected moments arise, authorized users can now easily disable and re-enable online ordering with just a few taps in Expo.

Onboarding

Real-time tracking and automated email notifications

Restaurant Benefit: Streamlined onboarding management


Managing onboarding is now more streamlined thanks to enhanced tracking via our new onboarding table and automated email notifications. The table displays real-time information for each store, allowing onboarding liaisons and franchisees to quickly view settings and see if critical information, like store hours, is missing. Onboarding email notifications let brands know when an update has occurred and eliminate the need for liaisons to constantly check tracker tables.

Looking Ahead

Ideas for new features come directly from listening to the needs of our customers. We’re proud to lead the industry’s efforts to optimize operations, drive revenue across channels, combat fraud, and harness the power of guest data, and will continue to innovate on behalf of restaurants in Q2 and beyond.

If you’re already an Olo customer, reach out to your Customer Success Manager to learn more about these features. If you’re not using Olo yet, contact our team to continue the conversation.

Product
Apr 12, 2023
4
 min read

The right tech stack will enable a restaurant brand to operate more efficiently, drive guest lifetime value, maximize revenue, and scale—but integrations are key to success. Find out why.

Restaurant Tech Stack, Restaurant System Integration, Restaurant Data

The right tech stack will enable a restaurant brand to operate more efficiently, drive guest lifetime value (LTV), maximize revenue, and scale. The key to success—and the biggest hurdle—is twofold:

  • Identifying which solutions will meet your brand’s unique needs today and set you up for success as you grow
  • Ensuring that your systems are fully integrated

When faced with the dizzying array of restaurant technologies available today, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. For every restaurant pain point, there is a product (or 10) to address it—from back-of-house to front-of-house, off-premise, and everything in between. 

And therein lies the problem: fragmented point solutions. In other words, restaurant systems that don’t talk to one another.

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The Impact of Data Silos on Restaurants’ Digital Transformation

Data silos are single databases, repositories, or systems that are not interconnected, making data hard to access and analyze. And they are one of the most significant obstacles in the restaurant industry’s digital transformation.

In some cases, restaurant data is stuck in legacy systems that do not provide a way to export it. In others, the vendor blocks access to your guest data altogether. Even if brands can access their data, few teams have the time or technology to stitch it together.

When data isn’t shared between restaurant systems, brands aren’t getting a comprehensive view of the guest journey (e.g. purchase behavior, visit frequency, dietary restrictions, communication preferences, etc.). And they can’t leverage that intel across departments to make smarter business decisions.

Think of it this way: How valuable is a loyalty program if it’s not directly integrated into your online ordering platform? And how can you effectively retain dine-in guests if your POS doesn’t communicate with your restaurant CRM?

Banner image promoting new buyer's guide to future-proofing your restaurant tech stack and a button to get the guide

How Restaurant Tech Integrations Work

Restaurant systems can communicate with one another via direct or indirect integrations.

 

With direct integrations, your restaurant systems connect via common protocols like REST APIs or Webhooks. For example, Olo’s APIs not only ingest restaurant data but also facilitate the flow of data to the brand’s desired destination (e.g. marketing platform, business insights tools, data warehouses, etc.) to power business decisions.

You can think of webhooks as outbound, event notifications that contain payloads of helpful data. For instance, when an online order is placed, Olo can send a notification with information about that order to the restaurant brand’s desired destination.

Alternatively, indirect integrations use third-party software as middleware to enable two systems to connect. Our Omnivore API, for instance, provides indirect connectivity to POS systems.

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The Benefits of an Integrated Restaurant Tech Stack

With a fully integrated restaurant technology stack, brands can optimize operations and enhance the guest experience to drive more revenue. Here are just a few examples:

  • Track inventory so that your online ordering menu accurately reflects what items are available at all times
  • Streamline communication between front-of-house staff and the kitchen to improve meal timing, reduce waste, and manage guest expectations
  • Create behavior-based guest segments and send them personalized marketing communications to increase visit frequency and check size
  • Ensure your restaurant is properly staffed at peak times
  • Identify which guests have high lifetime value (recency, frequency, and spending) and ensure they get VIP treatment every time they dine-in
  • Reward loyalty members whether they engage with your brand in-restaurant or off-premise 
  • Leverage your 360-degree view of guest behavior and preferences to acquire new guests who share those attributes and identify strategic real estate sites for your new locations
  • View all present and future parties from a single screen at the host stand, with real-time table status updates tied to the POS
  • See and respond to guest feedback from multiple sources (surveys, Google reviews, social media, etc.) in one place—alongside guest profile context from the restaurant CRM—and analyze trends

Without having to manually reenter data into each system, restaurant brands can reduce training, stress, and human error. And when staff can shift their focus to making every guest feel like a regular, everyone wins.

Watch our NRN Webinar

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Ways to Ensure Interoperability

Implementing any new restaurant software or hardware is a big undertaking, so before you do, be sure to thoroughly vet the solution. There’s nothing worse than rolling out a new system only to find out that it doesn’t play nicely with others.

At Olo, we help our customers build integrated tech stacks by remaining a neutral, open platform and offering one of the largest restaurant tech ecosystems on the market. Our partner ecosystem is an agile and flexible way for Olo brands to adopt new and existing technologies, without the hassle of building in-house or settling for data silos.

In addition to consulting brands on best practices for building an integrated tech stack, we just launched Olo Connect, a value-based partner program designed to help restaurant brands navigate the increasingly crowded restaurant tech space. 

Each of our Olo Connect Partners offers industry-leading integration and has demonstrated excellence on our platform. Qualifications include tenure on the Olo platform, the number of brands and locations currently supported, and proven customer satisfaction.

Final Thoughts

Remember: A future-proof restaurant technology stack is made up of systems that seamlessly share data. With proper integrations, brands can operate more efficiently, deliver an enhanced guest experience that maximizes LTV, make smarter business decisions, and drive revenue. 

If you’re unsure whether or not two systems work together, ask the tough questions. And don’t be afraid to lean on your trusted technology partners for guidance.

Visit our Partner Directory to learn about our 300+ technology partners and Olo Connect, our new opt-in Partner Program. Contact us today for a restaurant tech stack consultation or to join Olo Connect.

Product
Mar 15, 2023
4
 min read

Local listings are critical for restaurant discovery and revenue, yet they’re often taken for granted. Learn what’s at stake when they aren’t actively updated and how listings management software can help.

Local listings management, Restaurant listings management

One of the best ways to ensure guests find your restaurant when looking for places to eat nearby is to keep your local business listings up-to-date and optimized for search engines.

 

Before we get into how to effectively manage local listings and what’s at stake if you don’t, let’s break down the term.

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What Are Local Business Listings?

A local listing is an online profile featuring the name, address, phone number, hours of operation, website, and other essential details about a business located nearby. It can be found on search engines, marketplaces, social media, and other online directories.

Consumers rely heavily on local listings to find businesses that offer the goods and services they’re looking for. As a result, most local listings are free for brands to claim and update.

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Why Restaurants Can’t Afford to Overlook Local Listings

Restaurant teams are busier than ever, so it’s not hard to see why some brands don’t consider local listings management a priority. And yet, it’s never been more critical. Here are seven reasons why.

Search Engine Optimization

Now that guests can evaluate everything from cuisine to service model to handoff mode when deciding where to eat, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is everything. Optimized local business listings increase discoverability and help your brand rank high in search engine results when people are looking for similar restaurants nearby.

Guest Satisfaction

Incomplete and inaccurate local listings frustrate guests before they’ve even stepped foot in your restaurant. By ensuring that your listings are completely filled out and feature up-to-date information, you can make sure your guest relationship starts off on the right foot and drive long-term loyalty.

Convenience

Within a local listing, you can enable guests to easily place an order, make a reservation, join the waitlist, and more—without having to leave the platform where they found your restaurant. The less friction, the higher chance of conversion.

Revenue

When people can’t easily find, communicate with, or order from your restaurant, you’re alienating potential guests and missing out on valuable revenue. This can be as simple as forgetting to update your holiday hours.

Reputation

Guest feedback can make or break your business. Inaccurate listings and unanswered questions can lead to negative reviews—a major turn-off for prospective guests.

Credibility

Accurate local listings help build trust with guests and give them confidence in your brand. This makes them more likely to order and more likely to return.

Control of Brand Image 

Restaurants that don’t claim their local listings and let user-generated content alone populate their profile risk damaging their brand image. By curating your online presence with accurate information and professional imagery, you can better control how your restaurant is perceived.

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How Local Listing Management Software Supports Restaurants

Regularly updating local business listings is hard work—especially when you have multiple restaurant locations. And human error is inevitable.

Restaurant brands can alleviate that burden by leveraging local listing management software. Here are just a few of the benefits:

Swift Updates

When restaurant brands edit their hours, menu and other important details, every listing gets automatically updated through syndicated publishing. In other words, you no longer have to log in to each platform and manually enter the new information for every location.

Streamlined Management

With listing management software, restaurant brands no longer have to grant access to individual managers, keep track of multiple passwords, worry about human error, etc.

Robust Reporting

Brands can view conversion data by publisher to better understand website traffic and ROI from each listing. For example, you can see how many guests clicked on your online listing and ordered directly from your restaurant website, then leverage those insights to inform your marketing strategy.

More Direct Orders

By placing direct ordering links in your online listings, you can give guests more ways to discover and order directly from your brand website. With listing management software, it’s easy to meet guests where they are—and drive them to your business.

Better Discoverability

Listing management software can help your brand rank high across search engines, review sites, and social media by enabling you to claim listings easily, remove duplicates, and implement SEO best practices.

To further understand how restaurants can benefit from a listings management solution, read our Slim Chickens case study, which showcases how the brand has increased direct orders, reduced onboarding time, and gained a deeper understanding of listing ROI with Olo’s Sync.

Remember: when building a restaurant business, it’s better to let your food, ordering options, and guest experience set your brand apart—not a missing or inaccurate local listing. 

Learn more about Sync, Olo’s restaurant listing management software, and contact us today to find out how we can help your brand update local listings at scale.

Plus, check out our webinar with SOCi, wherein we discuss how to drive more guests with local SEO and online ordering.

Photo credit: Jeff Vinluan, Pexels

Product
Feb 22, 2023
4
 min read

Cart abandonment can be a major headache for restaurants. Here are some steps brands can take to optimize the online ordering process for conversion.

Boost Restaurant Orders, Reduce Cart Abandonment

The average online shopping cart abandonment rate sits at nearly 70%. That means, approximately 7 out of every 10 users that initiate a transaction, don’t follow through. It’s a big problem across industries, but not an unsolvable one.

By taking a guest-centric approach to designing the online ordering and checkout experience, restaurant brands can reduce friction, eliminate barriers to conversion, and create an enjoyable experience for guests that keeps them coming back.

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Top Reasons for Cart Abandonment

According to research conducted by Baymard Institute, many factors contribute to cart abandonment. While some reasons for cart abandonment are unavoidable—window shopping, price comparison, saving items for later, etc.—restaurant brands can drive sales and repeat orders by addressing the following issues:

  • Extra costs are too high (tax, delivery fees)
  • Mandatory account creation
  • Estimated delivery time is too slow
  • Website appears untrustworthy for entering payment information
  • Long/complicated checkout process
  • Total order cost not visible up-front
  • Website had errors/crashed
  • Not enough payment methods accepted
  • Credit card was declined
  • Restaurant location selection is a hassle
  • Expected handoff mode is unavailable
  • Advanced ordering is not an option

Want to learn how you can increase your brand's profits with direct ordering? Start Here

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8 Ways to Reduce Cart Abandonment and Boost Repeat Orders

To ensure guests successfully checkout, restaurant brands need to know exactly where in the online ordering journey guests are dropping off and why. One of the best ways to find out is through usability testing. In other words, testing the online ordering process with real users. This enables brands to spot pain points, collect data, and determine guests’ satisfaction with the process.

Once you’ve determined why guests are ditching their carts, you can start optimizing for conversion. For example:

Intuitive Ordering Interface

If guests aren’t checking out due to a confusing or complicated ordering interface, it’s time to rethink how the menu is organized and the structure of the ordering flow. Guests should be able to quickly find their favorite items, customize their order, and make edits to their cart as they go—regardless of the device they’re using. A clear CTA at each step of the process will help guide guests from start to finish.

Other important considerations:

  • Give defaults on menu items to eliminate an extra click on items that require customization
  • Validate a smooth mobile web ordering experience
  • Limit the number of redirect links that distract from the core flow

Login Options

While there are many benefits to requiring people to create an account when placing an online order (e.g. data collection, 1:1 marketing, personalizing the guest experience, etc.), it can also be a deterrent for those who are in a rush or don’t want to stress about password management. Registration shortcuts like Borderless checkout, logging in with Google, or the ability to “Checkout as a Guest” could make all the difference. If guest checkout is available, ensure it is the primary CTA, so that guests know they have a choice.

Simple Checkout

When it comes to optimizing the checkout experience for conversion, less is more. Few steps, limited form fields, and minimal distractions are key to getting guests across the finish line. If there is more than one page, consider adding a progress tracker to show guests where they are in the checkout process.

Multiple Handoff Modes

Limited handoff modes—dine-in, curbside, pick-up, drive-thru, delivery, etc.—can be a real turnoff for guests who have a preferred method of ordering, especially when that information isn’t communicated until the end of the checkout process. Restaurant brands can ensure guests aren’t abandoning their carts for this reason by enabling four or more handoff modes, a strategy proven to increase the conversion rate by 12% or more, according to Olo data.

Transparent Pricing and Delivery

If guests are ditching their carts at the last second, it may be because they’re turned off by the extra costs or longer-than-expected delivery time estimates. Brands can display a cart summary throughout the ordering flow for increased visibility and/or experiment with different placements, wording, or colors to communicate this information on the checkout page. Additionally, live tracking lets guests see their order status in real-time.

Multiple, Secure Payment Options

To establish trust with guests and offer convenience, restaurant brands should consider offering multiple payment options, including digital wallet support (e.g. Google Pay and Apple Pay) and the ability to save cards on file via Borderless checkout. Trust badges are another good way to let guests know that your checkout process is safe and that their data is secure. Examples include safe checkout (e.g. NortonLifeLock, VeriSign) and accepted payment method badges (e.g. PayPal, Visa).

High Authorization Rates for Valid Transactions

If your processor is rejecting credit card payments from legitimate guests, it will negatively impact your cart abandonment rate. The best way to ensure that you’re only rejecting fraudulent transactions is to select a restaurant payment stack that has been optimized with authorization rates in mind.

Q/A Testing

Regular Q/A testing is critical to ensure that your online ordering platform and checkout process are functioning properly. Slow load time, errors, and crashes can drive away guests long before they checkout. And don’t forget to triple-check discount codes and links to ensure they’re working. With the ubiquity of online reviews, frustrated guests can wreak havoc on your brand’s reputation. Lastly, be sure to Q/A test across devices and browsers, as the majority of online orders are placed on mobile.

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Ongoing Optimization

While each of these strategies can positively impact the cart abandonment rate, sustainable sales growth is dependent on continuous optimization efforts. When implementing changes, A/B testing can help you determine which adjustments are making a difference for guests.

A/B testing is the proven method to test and validate changes to the ordering funnel. It can be as simple as changing copy to something much more complex, like building new components. A/B tests bring in statistical rigor that enables positive changes to the funnel.

In the end, restaurant brands that prioritize a seamless guest experience at every step of the online ordering journey will reap the rewards.

Contact us for more ways to optimize your online ordering platform for conversion.

Photo Credit: Thirdman from Pexels

Product
Feb 8, 2023
6
 min read

Guest satisfaction is a major indicator of how restaurant sales will trend. Learn how to put guest feedback to work with sentiment analysis.

Sentiment Analysis, Restaurant Review Management, Restaurant Sentiment

There was a time when the only way to keep a pulse on guest satisfaction at a restaurant was to hire secret shoppers or collect comment cards. Now, the Internet gives guests the power to share their thoughts—positive, negative, and everything in between—24/7 on review sites, social media, and directly with restaurant brands.

But what do you do with all that feedback? Enter sentiment analysis, a tool that is quickly becoming essential for restaurant brands to manage their reputation, enhance the guest experience, and curb negative trends before they impact sales.

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Why Guest Satisfaction Matters More Than Ever

Before we explain what sentiment analysis is and how to use it, let’s talk about why guest satisfaction matters in the first place.

Everyone knows that guest satisfaction can directly impact check size, tip amount, and the number of return visits, but with the ubiquity of online reviews, feedback can also make or break your brand’s reputation, acquisition efforts, and bottom line.

For context, according to the 2020 Local Consumer Review Survey, 93% of consumers look at restaurant/cafe reviews before deciding where to eat—the highest percentage of any industry. The majority of consumers (63%) use Google to find information about local businesses—including reviews, contact info, hours, etc.—and only 48% would consider using a business that has fewer than four stars.

In other words, happy guests equal more revenue.

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The Challenge of Managing Guest Feedback

Considering how influential restaurant reviews can be, it’s not enough to simply monitor what’s being said online about your dining experience. Brands must actively engage with all guest feedback—good and bad—whether it’s shared on a public platform like Google, or privately via an automated survey.

Take a second to think about how your brand currently manages feedback. How many platforms do you have to log into to monitor reviews? Do all the right people in your organization have access? How many reviews has your team responded to, and how quickly?

If you’re like most restaurant brands, there’s some room for improvement.

Identifying trends when feedback comes in from multiple disparate sources is nearly impossible. And without context from your restaurant's customer relationship management solution (CRM), there’s no way to connect the dots between reviews and everything that happened during the guest’s visit. On top of it all, few restaurant operators have the bandwidth to manually comb through dozens of reviews and respond thoughtfully.

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How Sentiment Analysis Can Benefit Restaurants

Sentiment analysis—the automated process of determining whether guest feedback is positive, negative, or neutral—helps you convert the noise of all those reviews into a crystal-clear signal that allows you to take one-to-one action with guests and team members.

With the right tool, you can:

  • See reviews from multiple sources—surveys, social media, and Google—aggregated in a single dashboard
  • View guest sentiment overall, by location, or by category (i.e. service, food, etc.)
  • Connect individual reviews to guest profiles within your restaurant CRM for added context about their recent visit, frequency, lifetime value (GLV), etc.
  • Filter reviews by source, location, date, rating, keywords, etc.
  • Respond to individual reviews without having to log in to multiple platforms
  • Quickly see which comments have not yet received a response
  • Monitor trends over time and, when necessary, escalate reviews to the appropriate department
  • Stay on top of new reviews with custom daily reports delivered right to your inbox

Sentiment analysis can tell you what your guests are thinking, but then what? How do you act on that feedback?

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How To Act on Guest Feedback

With sentiment analysis, you have a single source of truth that allows you to evaluate reviews—by content and context—not just the overall rating. Restaurant brands can use this information to identify trends and make targeted improvements that build long-term loyalty and grow profits.

Here are a few ways to make guest feedback actionable:

1. Seize Opportunities for Improvement

The best sentiment analysis solutions categorize feedback by content so you can easily identify opportunities for improvement in all areas of the business, like service, food and drink, value, facilities, overall experience, reservations, waitlist, pickup, and delivery.

You can then drill down into each category to diagnose negative trends before they impact sales—and, most importantly, make the appropriate changes.

For example, if you notice a lot of negative comments about wait times, you can see which shifts are having the most issues, and look for ways to improve. It might mean you need a new restaurant waitlist system that reduces manual work and guesswork for the host staff, uses automated text updates to keep guests informed, and offers the ability to join the waitlist remotely right from your Google listing.

Don’t be afraid to get creative. If multiple commenters say the drink list is too limited, you might consider launching a cocktail naming competition to engage guests and let them know you are working on expanding the menu.

2. Start a Dialogue With Guests

By directly responding to feedback in an authentic and caring manner, restaurant brands can express gratitude, demonstrate hospitality, and show respect and empathy, which builds trust with current and potential guests.

A modern sentiment analysis tool will enable you to reply directly to guests across platforms from a single dashboard with one login. When you spot opportunities to win back guests, invite them to contact you directly so you can make it right. As for positive feedback, be sure to thank the guest and encourage them to connect with you the next time they visit.

3. Personalize the Guest Experience  

When feedback is tied to guest profiles in your restaurant CRM, you can use context about their visit history to engage with each guest on a more personal level—online and during their next in-person visit.

Within the reply to an online review, you could reference the anniversary that the guest was celebrating or the seasonal milkshake they enjoyed. And, as a follow-up during their next in-person visit, you could show a positive reviewer your gratitude by having their favorite beverage prepared ahead of being seated, or slip some branded swag into their curbside pickup bag.

This additional layer of context also ensures that operators know which feedback deserves the most attention (i.e. high-GLV guests vs. a one-time guest from a year ago), and can escalate it if needed.

4. Foster Accountability Among the Team

The fact is that restaurant operators simply can’t witness every single guest interaction. As such, they need a way to keep a pulse on their team’s performance. By starting each day engaging with guest feedback and sharing key takeaways with the team, managers can foster a culture of shared accountability.

Consider each guest review and survey an opportunity to praise and constructively coach team members, so that everyone takes pride in the restaurant’s success. Transparency ensures that every team member feels recognized, valued, and aware when improvements need to be made.

For a real-world example, check out this case study to learn how BelAir Cantina, a Wisconsin-based restaurant brand, leverages sentiment analysis.

Signing Off on Sentiment

Feedback management has come a long way since the days of secret shoppers and comment cards. If you’re not leveraging a sentiment analysis tool to monitor guest satisfaction over time, respond directly to feedback, and enhance the dining experience, you risk losing valuable guests, and ultimately, revenue.

Contact us today to learn how our restaurant sentiment analysis solution can enable your brand to collect, analyze, and act on vital guest feedback.

Photo Credit: Helena Lopes from Pexels

Product
Jan 18, 2023
3
 min read

Managing a courier fleet can be a hassle, especially when you’re short-staffed. Here’s how to offer and expand delivery regardless of limited resources.

Restaurant Delivery, Restaurant Delivery Management Software

Many restaurant brands have found themselves in a predicament when it comes to delivery.

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Fifty-four percent of adults now consider purchasing takeout or delivery food essential to the way they live, with delivery accounting for approximately 9% of total U.S. restaurant sales. Furthermore, IMARC Group expects the global online food delivery market to reach $223.7 billion by 2027, exhibiting at a growth rate of 11.44% over the next five years.

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And yet, the industry is still down 750,000 jobs—roughly 6% of its workforce—from pre-pandemic levels as of May.

How do you satisfy growing consumer demand for delivery when you’re short-staffed?

Stiff competition for workers and a tight budget may seem insurmountable, but you’d be surprised what even the most resource-strapped brand can achieve with the right tech stack and some strategic planning.

Restaurants of all service models can take steps to streamline operations and reduce stress for staff, all while providing guests with the convenient delivery experience they crave.

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Start with these seven tactics:

1. Pare down your delivery menu 


Offer a limited or less complex delivery menu using guest feedback and order history as your guide. Identify opportunities to simplify recipes using fewer ingredients and carefully consider how well the food will travel. Regularly test different delivery menu items to ensure guests are getting the best off-premise dining experience possible.

2. Create separate areas for delivery prep and handoff


When a restaurant is short-staffed, the potential for confusion and mistakes goes way up. You can help create a smooth process for staff, delivery couriers, and guests by assigning separate areas for delivery prep and handoff with prominent, straightforward signage.

3. Designate a team member to oversee delivery orders

If your restaurant is receiving 30+ delivery orders per day, name a Delivery Specialist to oversee each part of the order lifecycle: receiving orders, preparing food for handoff, checking for accuracy, passing food from kitchen to courier, and providing communication and support for delivery issues. Alternatively, if the order volume isn’t high enough to demand a full-time role, make it the responsibility of one of your team members to ensure delivery orders are not overlooked at the beginning of their shift.

4. Integrate all online orders with the POS


Consolidate all online orders—direct, third-party, delivery, and pickup—into one dashboard through a single digital commerce engine so that your staff doesn’t have to juggle multiple tablets or manually input transactions into the POS. You’ll spend less time training, improve order accuracy, boost guest satisfaction, and reduce employee stress.

5. Prep what you can beforehand


Think about what can be done during the pre-shift prep period to speed up the delivery process. Have restaurant staff members fill sauce containers, pre-package sides, fold to-go boxes, and other related tasks to boost efficiency and decrease anxiety during peak-volume times.

6. Control delivery order volume with throttling


To control the volume of delivery orders that restaurant locations receive within a particular time frame, brands can take advantage of order throttling strategies. By setting a maximum number of make-time minutes or orders-per-window that can be accepted during a certain time slot, you can ensure that delivery orders get fulfilled in a timely manner and staff aren’t overwhelmed.

7. Leverage an integrated delivery network


Managing a courier fleet in-house can be stressful and expensive. By tapping into an integrated delivery network, restaurants can offer direct delivery without the hassle or commissions. Here’s how it works: Delivery orders placed on your restaurant website or app are automatically paired with third-party couriers so guests get a seamless experience, while you control the order data, guest relationship, and revenue.

To find out how Olo can help launch or strengthen your delivery program, contact us today.

Photo Credit: Rodnae Productions from Pexels

Product
Dec 21, 2022
4
 min read

Tech is key to efficient restaurant management and a positive guest experience. These solutions can optimize front-of-house and help you do more with less.

Front-of-House Restaurant Technology, Restaurant Management

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Technology is key to efficient restaurant management and a positive dining experience for guests in this digital age. The right tech stack will reduce manual work and stress for employees, decrease human errors and miscommunication, boost guest satisfaction, and ultimately, enable the brand to serve more people.

As the industry juggles a labor shortage and a resurgence in dine-in, many brands are looking for ways to do more with less. But with a rapidly growing restaurant tech ecosystem, it can be difficult to tell the difference between nice-to-have and must-have solutions.

Knowing that every brand has unique needs, we’ve narrowed down the list to the most impactful tech solutions for boosting front-of-house efficiency.

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6 Restaurant Technologies That Streamline FOH Operations

1. Online Order Management System

With online orders streaming in from multiple sources, brands need a way to effortlessly manage orders and handoff without leaving the counter. A tablet-based online order management solution can enhance the front-of-house workflow by enabling team members to manage all orders (direct and marketplace), view by handoff mode (inside, drive-thru, curbside), early fire if needed, set custom labels and alerts for large orders, request new drivers, receive curbside arrival notifications, and set menu item availability—all from a single screen.

Expo is Olo’s staff-facing tablet application for enhancing front-of-house operations and order flow.

2. Table Management System

A modern restaurant table management system provides real-time, streamlined party management so that full-service operators can efficiently manage dine-in parties, off-premise orders, reservations, and waitlist parties from a single list. That means more guest-facing interaction, far less training, and no more bouncing between apps that don’t share data.

With the right system in place, restaurant brands can optimize operations as service unfolds via automated table status updates through a POS integration and customizable configurations like push notifications, smart tags, and more.

3. QR Code Ordering

Restaurants can leverage QR code ordering to optimize operations and create a seamless dining experience by enabling guests to view the menu, order, and pay at the table, all from their phones. Guests simply scan a QR code on a sign or sticker at the table and order, without needing to wait for a server or stand in line

Increased staff efficiency resulting from fewer nonessential touch points between employees and guests, and faster table turnover are just a few of the benefits of QR code ordering.

Read our Nando’s case study to find out how QR code ordering has transformed on-premise operations and the dine-in experience at the fast-casual restaurant brand.

Credit Albert Hu from Unsplash

4. Reservation System

Reservation systems help full-service restaurant brands strategically map out their dining rooms in order to serve more guests as well as provide more accurate wait quotes. Reservations give operators the ability to prepare the kitchen and waitstaff ahead of a busy shift, and less wait time means happier guests.

With the right restaurant reservation system, guests can book a table directly with the restaurant via Google, social media, website, app, etc. for a seamless user journey.

5. Waitlist Management System

Forget pen and paper. A waitlist management system can enable full-service restaurant guests to join remotely and offer automated, real-time updates so they know exactly where they are in line. 

With fewer people crowding the entryway and less time spent manually texting guests, hosts can focus their attention on thoughtfully greeting and seating. And, when everyone is in the know, brands can expect fewer unnecessary phone calls, texts, and host interruptions, which can lead to happier employees and guests.

A modern restaurant waitlist system can also accurately predict wait times using sophisticated algorithms, so the host staff doesn’t have to guess and risk upsetting guests.

Hot Tip: Even at times when there is no wait, operators can turn on a 0-5 minute waitlist to capture guest data that would otherwise be lost with an unidentified walk-in.

With Olo Host, restaurants can manage their waitlist, reservations, and online orders from a single dashboard.

6. Scheduling Software

Staffing challenges are a major headache for brands and can negatively impact operational efficiency, quality of service, guest satisfaction, and team member retention. To combat these issues, some restaurant operators leverage restaurant scheduling software to quickly organize shift schedules, anticipate scheduling challenges, and communicate with team members about last-minute shift changes.

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A Virtual Helping Hand

Restaurant brands should consider technology a virtual helping hand that makes it possible to do more with less. By automating tedious tasks and empowering team members to focus on making meaningful connections with guests, everyone wins.

For more inspiration, read How tech can ease the FOH labor shortage. And stay tuned for the next installment of our “Do More With Less” series, wherein we’ll cover restaurant delivery strategies and solutions.

To find out how Olo can help your restaurant brand do more with less, contact us.

How Sprinkles meets the needs of digital-first guests
Product
Nov 30, 2022
4
 min read

To satisfy off-premise demand, restaurant brands have embraced delivery. But how do you effectively scale this channel? A multipronged approach is key.

Restaurant Delivery

To satisfy demand for off-premise dining, restaurant brands of all sizes have embraced delivery. But in order to effectively grow a delivery channel, you need a multipronged approach centered around optimization, education, and promotion that will appeal to existing and potential guests, as well as encourage repeat orders.

Here are eight ways to increase restaurant delivery sales through your brand website and app, as well as marketplaces and listings:

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1. Website and App Optimization

The first step to increasing delivery sales is to optimize your restaurant website and mobile app for conversion. In addition to being mobile-friendly, and quick to load, there should be a prominent “Order Delivery” button that’s easy for guests to find.

The fewer hoops guests have to jump through, the more likely they are to place a delivery order. So, be mindful of potential barriers to conversion, such as lengthy forms, limited payment options, account creation prompts, fees added at checkout, etc.

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2. Leverage Delivery Service Providers and Marketplaces

Brands can bypass the complications of managing drivers or contracts with multiple delivery service providers (DSPs) by leveraging an integrated delivery network. Using third-party delivery couriers to fulfill native orders from your website or app can increase guest loyalty while offering a direct digital experience wherein you own the data.

Additionally, through a single integration to multiple third-party marketplaces, you can consolidate all online orders into one location (e.g. POS system, tablet, etc.), regardless of where they originated. This benefits everyone involved in the delivery process: guests receive accurate information, delivery couriers can execute more deliveries per hour, and restaurants stay in control.

3. Order With Google

Restaurants can turn Google Search and Google Maps inquiries into delivery orders with Olo's Order With Google Enhanced Redirect. By directing guests to your brand's ordering platform from Google, you can elevate your online presence, increase direct ordering traffic to your website, and drive incremental revenue.

Since new and existing guests likely already use Google every day, you can (and should) meet guests where they are and drive delivery orders at the same time.

4. Menu Engineering

Restaurant brands should use menu item profitability, popularity, and lifetime value (LTV) data when designing their delivery menu. Through strategic placement of menu items and upselling, brands can positively influence guest behavior and, ultimately, increase sales.

A restaurant CDP is key to effective menu engineering because it enables brands to connect guest data from their POS, payment processor, online ordering platform, loyalty program, and more to a menu engineering tool. And, by unlocking LTV, brands can quantify the results of menu optimization.

Keep in mind that menu engineering is an iterative process. Regular testing and analyzing trends are key to continuously driving results.

5. SEO

According to Google Trends data from the last five years, the search term “restaurants near me” reached peak popularity in July 2021. To ensure that your brand ranks high in search results when people are looking for food nearby, prioritize SEO across all platforms.

For example, a Mexican restaurant brand that wants to increase delivery awareness and sales should incorporate relevant keywords such as “Mexican food delivery [name of city]” and “Mexican restaurant delivery near me” into its website, social media pages, digital ads, and third-party listings.

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6. Omnichannel Marketing

In-store and online restaurant marketing is critical for educating guests about delivery options and encouraging adoption. Each location should display prominent signage and a clearly marked pickup area for delivery couriers. Additionally, staff T-shirts, door decals, receipts (“Next time, order delivery at [URL]!”), bag stuffers and stickers can help spread the word.

With countless meal decisions being made online every second, restaurant brands should leverage email, SMS, social media, and geo-targeted digital advertising to reach a wider audience and boost delivery sales. Focus on the benefits of delivery (convenience, speed, ease of ordering, etc.), enable anyone to start an order with one click, and consider incentivizing guests with an introductory offer, such as free delivery or $5 off $20 on their first order.

7. Solicit and Engage with Feedback

In order to scale delivery, brands have to know what’s working and what isn’t. The best way to find out is to solicit guest feedback about the delivery experience proactively.

With automated surveys, brands are able to show guests that their opinion matters, quickly address issues, spot trends that could impact future sales, and optimize the experience for both first-time delivery orderers and repeat guests.

Monitoring and engaging with restaurant reviews is also important. If guests are complaining about the delivery experience on Google and the brand has not responded in a timely and professional manner, those reviews will negatively affect the brand’s reputation and likely dissuade first-time guests from placing an order.

Automated post-visit survey from Velvet Taco

8. Retention Campaigns

After a guest has ordered delivery once, it’s up to the brand to convince them to do it again. And considering that traditionally, the cost of acquiring a new guest is 5 to 25 times more expensive than retaining an existing one, retention campaigns should play a big role in any delivery growth strategy.

Restaurant brands can motivate guests to order delivery again with personalized offers based on their order history, by promoting new menu items that complement their favorites, or by letting them know about the latest specials just before they make plans to eat. For more inspiration, check out these restaurant retention strategies.

It’s All About the Guest Experience

The most profitable restaurant delivery programs meet guests where they are and offer a frictionless, personalized experience—while also seamlessly integrating with the brand’s existing tech stack. 

Omnichannel marketing that educates guests about the benefits of delivery is essential for a successful launch, but the work doesn’t end there. To successfully scale delivery, brands need to continuously market the program to new and existing guests, analyze data, gather feedback, optimize, and test.

Learn about our restaurant delivery solutions, Dispatch and Rails, and ask us how we can help boost sales for your brand.

Photo Credit: Norma Mortenson from Pexels

Product
Oct 24, 2022
4
 min read

There’s a lot to consider before implementing a new restaurant payment stack. Learn the best time to upgrade and what to look for when vetting solutions.

Restaurant Payment Stack, Restaurant Payment Solutions, Olo Pay

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In an increasingly contactless world, payment processing for digital transactions has become a priority across industries. But for restaurant brands that have spent years bemoaning antiquated payment systems for their endless fees, security issues, and lack of tech integration, it can be a sore subject.

The truth is: A traditional payment processor simply doesn’t cut it anymore. Restaurant brands must have a comprehensive payment platform to streamline their tech stack, drive direct sales, and unify siloed data. 

But implementing any new system is no small undertaking. Budgets are tight, labor is strained, and yet, innovation is key to remaining competitive.

So when is the optimal time to upgrade?

Start by asking yourself the following questions.

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10 Things To Consider Before Implementing a New Payment Stack

  1. What are your current authorization rates? Have they been increasing or decreasing?
  2. What are your cart abandonment rates? Are they trending up or down?
  3. Which fees on your payment service provider’s statement can you not confidently explain?
  4. How do your payment acceptance costs vary from quarter to quarter?
  5. What are your current rates of fraud and chargebacks? Have they changed over time?
  6. What are your costs of chargebacks, won and lost?
  7. What are your administrative costs for handling chargebacks?
  8. What kind of payment tokens do you use and what is the cost?
  9. What are the costs of maintaining your payments platform as it relates to keeping up with new network rules and requirements? (PCI compliance, reporting, interchange changes, etc.)
  10. How is card life cycle management handled?

If your restaurant brand is consistently embattled by fees, struggling to manage chargebacks and PCI compliance, and/or experiencing high cart abandonment rates, it’s time to update your payment system.

Olo Payments Playbook
Download our Payments Playbook

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What To Look For in a Restaurant Payment Platform

A modern restaurant payment platform will not only simplify operations but also enhance the guest experience. It shouldn’t just solve existing problems, either; it should be future-proof to ensure that as you build out the rest of your restaurant tech stack, it will continue to meet your needs. 

To set up your brand for success, make sure your payment system checks all of these boxes.

Transparent Fee Structure

The cost of accepting payments goes beyond the processing fee and often includes other charges. Traditional payment processors will sometimes hide fees, overcharge for services, or charge for unnecessary items.

Hidden fees are often considered markup costs and can be charged on a transaction basis or monthly. They can include PCI fees, software fees, gateway fees, CPU fees, AVS fees, equipment costs, and more.

All of these fees are negotiable and should be reviewed prior to implementing a payment system.

Multiple Payment Options

To effectively drive sales, restaurant brands need to optimize for conversion. That includes offering a seamless checkout process with multiple payment options for guest convenience. 

Look for a payment platform that enables guests to pay with their digital wallet (Apple Pay, Google Pay) and save a card on file for faster checkout on subsequent visits. The fewer barriers—manual credit card entry, password management, etc.—the better.

Advanced Fraud Protection

As the number of digital transactions continues to skyrocket, restaurant brands need to be vigilant when it comes to fraud. Each restaurant transaction could be made by a real guest or a scammer.

While many restaurant brands are forced to purchase fraud protection from a company outside of their payment processor, a comprehensive payment platform will include it within their offerings and the upfront cost. 

A modern payment stack can tell the difference between scammers and actual guests by leveraging machine learning to catch fraud and accept legitimate transactions. While some chargebacks are unavoidable, the right technology will limit fraud to a bare minimum.

Full Integration

In order to truly know your guests, you need a restaurant tech stack built with systems that talk to each other. That way, you can collect, analyze, and act on unified data. If your payment processor, online ordering solution, CRM, POS, etc. do not share data, you’re not getting the full picture of the guest's journey.

By eliminating data silos, you can gain a comprehensive understanding of each guest, including their purchasing behavior, preferences, and long-term value to the business. So, before selecting a payment platform, ensure that it fully integrates with your existing tech stack.

Seamless Onboarding

One of the biggest challenges of implementing a payment platform is the amount of time and resources it takes for a successful roll-out brand-wide. Between staffing challenges and razor-thin margins, quick and painless onboarding is key to successfully standing up any new restaurant system.

When vetting payment solutions, find out what the onboarding process entails and approximately how long it will take—depending on the vendor, it could take days or weeks to set up a new merchant account—so you can anticipate the impact on operations and prepare.

Watch our NRN webinar

Final Thoughts

While no single payment platform works for all restaurants, the right system will lay the groundwork for sustainable business growth while improving day-to-day operations for staff and the overall guest experience.

For example, since switching from a legacy processor to Olo Pay, our restaurant-specific payment platform, WaBa Grill has seen a significant reduction in fraud and fees, as well as an improved authorization rate that has resulted in additional revenue. Read the case study for details.

Before implementing a new system, it’s good to know what’s working and what isn’t with your current setup—and the direction you want to move in. Once you have a baseline established, you can better evaluate each vendor’s differentiators and how they can meet your brand’s needs today and in the future.

Learn about our comprehensive restaurant payment platform, and contact us to find out how Olo Pay can transform your business.

Photo Credit: Pickawood from Unsplash

Product
Oct 24, 2022
3
 min read

Find out how restaurants can leverage QR code ordering to optimize operations and create a seamless dining experience that benefits both guests and staff.

QR Code Ordering, Dine-In Ordering, On-Premise Ordering

The pandemic made QR codes ubiquitous, particularly in the hospitality industry. Contactless menus and payment quickly went from being a safety precaution to a staple at many restaurants.

While diners had to initially adapt out of necessity, many have come to accept and even embrace QR codes for their convenience. Now that dine-in is back in full force, restaurants can further leverage QR codes to optimize operations and create a seamless guest experience.

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What is QR Code Ordering?

QR code ordering enables guests to scan a QR code to access a restaurant’s menu, place an order, and pay for a meal, all from their own mobile devices. The QR code is typically found on a tabletop sign or sticker affixed to a table inside the restaurant.

With QR code ordering, guests have the flexibility to choose how, when, and what to order—without having to stand in line or wait for a server. Additionally, guests benefit from faster service, more control over order accuracy, the ability to easily add items to their meals, and quickly pay when they’re finished.

QSR and fast-casual brands like Nando’s offer QR code ordering inside some of their restaurants and the reception from guests has been overwhelmingly positive.

Olo QR Code Ordering for Restaurants
With Olo's QR Code Ordering, guests can view the menu, order, and pay with their phones.

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5 Ways Restaurants Can Benefit from QR Code Ordering

Though QR code ordering is a guest-driven dining experience, the technology can support restaurants in a myriad of ways—from financial, to staffing, to data collection, and more. Here are five examples that come directly from Olo data and feedback from restaurant brands that we support.

1. Revenue Boost

According to Olo data and industry data at large, check averages increase by $2-4, or roughly 12%, when guests order from a digital interface. Why? Because guests can spend more time perusing the menu, easily add and pay for items, and indulge in add-ons without fear of judgment.

As a bonus, generally, there are limited costs for restaurant brands to get started with QR code ordering (keep scrolling for setup details).

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2. Increased Staff Efficiency and Satisfaction

By eliminating unnecessary touch points between restaurant employees and guests, QR code ordering optimizes staffing needs. Fewer trips to and from tables mean brands have the freedom to reallocate employees to greet guests, prepare food, etc.

When guests have the power to determine exactly what and when to order, their satisfaction tends to go up, which can lead to an increased tip income of $1.50 per hour on average.

Higher pay, less stress, and the freedom to put in more face time with guests can boost job satisfaction and retention of restaurant employees.

Related: How To Prepare For Table Service 2.0

3. Improved Order Accuracy

Since QR code ordering puts guests in control of placing and paying for orders directly from their phone, communication issues with staff often decrease, and order accuracy increases. Fewer mistakes mean less food waste and a smoother experience for all.

4. Faster Table Turnover

Restaurant guests often wait anywhere from 15 to 20 minutes for their check to arrive at the table. It’s a common pain point that can easily be resolved with QR code ordering.  

When guests aren’t waiting for a server to order or pay for their meal, orders get fulfilled faster and there’s less delay for incoming guests. In other words, with QR code ordering, more people can ultimately be served—a win-win for the restaurant brand and its guests.

5. Data Collection

Restaurant brands that leverage QR code ordering can see up to a 5x increase in first-party data collection compared to traditional dining experiences. 

While historically dine-in guests have been difficult to identify and learn from, QR code ordering enables brands to better understand dine-in guests’ preferences and behavior, as well as grow their marketable database, by digitizing every transaction.


When brands analyze and act on those insights, they can create Digital Hospitality at every touchpoint and maximize lifetime value (LTV) through personalized service, 1:1 marketing, and more.

Nando's QR code ordering with Olo
Nando’s Peri-Peri promotes its QR code ordering experience at the door, table, and on staff T-shirts.

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Getting Set Up with QR Code Ordering

Unlike some restaurant technologies, QR code ordering is generally quick to stand up for brands that already have online ordering and can be very cost-effective. In most cases, no hardware is needed since the ordering platform is a guest’s mobile device. The only out-of-pocket costs include training employees, setting up QR codes at each table, and developing promotional materials.

To boost awareness, educate guests, and encourage the adoption of QR code ordering, brands should display positive, straightforward messaging in and around each restaurant. Eye-catching door and window decals, signs in traditional ordering areas, table displays, and even staff T-shirts or buttons, are great ways to get the word out at each location. And don’t forget about online—a restaurant website, social media, and email marketing are important channels for educating guests.

To find out more about QR code ordering and how it can support your restaurant operations, visit our Ordering page and contact us.

Photo Credit: Alba Lantigua from Unsplash and Blue Bird from Pexels