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"Online Ordering: Tap the Internet" - Celebrity Blog Post for Digital Brand Camp →

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The other week, I sat next to a restaurant operator on the third day of a marquis restaurant conference.

  • “What are you hearing so far?” I asked him.

  • “If I hear the term ‘social media’ one more time, I think my head will explode,” he shot back.

So, what’s with all of the talk about social media? Think about it this way: every restaurant executive knows how important it is to “go where the customers are” when launching new stores. The same concept holds true on the Internet. A recent study by BIA/Kelsey found that 97% of customers use the Internet when researching local buying decisions. This means that virtually everyone is going online to find the next great restaurant.

Websites like Google, Facebook, and Citysearch are more than just social media websites; they are the very data sources where customers are researching nearby restaurants online. And there are more than 250 other websites (and now mobile apps) where your restaurant needs to be in order to win new customers. In the new world in which the Internet is the #1 decision tool for deciding where to eat, this is crucial to business.

So, how can you manage this complex world without your head exploding? Fear not. Wherever there is complexity, wherever there is a broken system in need of a better way, look for entrepreneurs; we will be there. There are several start ups in New York City that are working hard to make it easy to manage your online presence beyond your website. Take, for example, Single Platform* (www.singleplatform.com): a dead-simple, yet revolutionary approach to “manage your digital presence and gain new customers.” Single Platform helps single unit operators and big chains manage all of the complexity of the Internet on, you guessed it, a single platform.

What if you could go one step further and make every social media website into a point-of-sale for your restaurant? What if you could tap the Internet to generate new customers and increase same store sales? What if you could do so without increasing your overhead or your marketing budget? You can.

One of the greatest benefits of online ordering is that it transposes your point-of-sale from behind the counter onto the computer screen, and into the hands of your customers. With online ordering, your customers can select their closest store, custom build their order, prepay with a credit card or gift card, and schedule their own pickup time. And, they can go at their own pace, without waiting on hold or struggling to communicate order details to a busy employee. Combine the ease, speed, and accuracy of online ordering with the ubiquity of social media and you have a true winning combination.

This article originally appeared on Digital Brand Camp (http://dbrandcamp.squarespace.com/).

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