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Independent restaurants use Google to drive sales

As online ordering transforms the restaurant industry, independents are struggling to catch up with the digital transformations that many big brands have undergone. Therefore, technology vendors are looking to offer tools to help them compete and provide consumers with the frictionless convenience they expect.

For example, ordering integration technology company ItsaCheckmate announced last month the launch of an integration for small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) to enable direct ordering via Google Search and Maps.

“Obviously a lot of restaurants are searched on Google, and [we enable] customers who search for these restaurants to order directly on Google,” ItsaCheckmate Founder and CEO Vishal Agarwal told PYMNTS in an interview. “It’s a hugely effective way for restaurants to get direct orders from customers who are looking for them.”

The company doesn’t charge extra for the integration, making the option accessible to smaller restaurants that don’t have the financial resources to invest in expensive ordering channels.

For context, most restaurant orders are still placed in person, but digital orders are on the rise. Research from PYMNTS’ study “The 2022 Restaurant Digital Divide: Food Aggregators Find Their Footing in Q2” found that 10% of orders are placed online through the restaurant’s app or website. Moreover, only 3% are placed on aggregators. In contrast, 78% are placed in person.

Read more: Aggregators represent only 2.5% of restaurant orders

Although digital channels represent only a small share of sales, they can be the biggest purchases. The study found that millennials and bridge millennials, who tend to be the most likely to order online, spend significantly more on digital orders than on in-person orders.

But digital channels tend to favor larger restaurants that can afford advanced tech stacks.

“We talk a lot in the restaurant business [from] tech startups and established tech companies [that] we’re here to help restaurants,” Agarwal said, adding that many of these businesses are failing to deliver on this promise to freelancers, who typically need additional support to implement new digital features.

Indeed, small restaurants are lagging behind big brands when it comes to adopting the technological capabilities needed to be able to compete on digital channels. For example, research from the June edition of the Digital Divide study, “The Digital Divide: Technology, Customer Service and Innovation in the Restaurant Industry,” which draws on a PYMNTS survey of nearly 2,400 American adults who regularly purchase food from restaurants found that 56% of chains offer mobile ordering in advance, compared to just 31% of independents.

See more : How the Metaverse Shapes the Consumer Experience in Restaurants

Consumers are also becoming more accustomed to smoother shopping channels such as SMS ordering, smart voice assistant, etc. As freelancers become more digitally accessible, they can generate additional sales, but they must increasingly deliberate about coordinating all parts of the business, which creates an opportunity for technology providers.

“Whether [the consumer is] more comfortable texting an order or telling Amazon Alexa to bring me my pizza, that’s great [for them], but I think the problem is with the restaurateurs,” Agarwal said. “How do they manage so many different channels? … I think this will be the next big evolution of these ordering platforms.

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