Yes, Order & Pay systems do boost customer spending. But “why” and “how much” are complicated questions, and it depends on your circumstances. There’s examples of digital ordering which seem to increase the size of orders in the region of 30%.
It’s also perfectly possible to create a bad mobile ordering system which doesn’t boost spending. Like the difference between a good and bad waiter, some mobile ordering systems will successfully persuade customers to buy more – and some won’t. It’s worth getting au fait with why mobile ordering systems persuade customers to spend more… because that can help you identify which mobile ordering systems will work best for your restaurant or venue. That’s why it’s important to find the best mobile ordering systems such as StoreKit Order & Pay, and use that.
Below are some examples of digital ordering systems that we know have worked, and our opinion about what makes them good.
What are some examples of digital or mobile ordering boosting spending?
According to the Times, Wetherspoons stock jumped following the launch of the now-famous Wetherspoons app. The pub chain revealed that launch of the app led to an “exceptional” surge in sales because of the app.
According to the Harvard Business Review, when it was first trialled, McDonald’s found that orders from its kiosk were 30% higher than with cashiers. It’s no wonder they’ve rolled them out in nearly every McDonalds in the UK!
3. Taco Bell.
Taco Bell recently announced that orders made via their new digital app are 20% pricier than those taken by human cashiers. This is because people are more likely to add a side or dessert, Taco Bell reported.
the US-Mexican chain Chili’s has reported a 20% increase in dessert spending from their digital ordering menu – a similar pattern to Taco Bell. They were also more likely to order a starter.
5. Lea French Street Food.
a smaller restaurant, almost doubled the average size of their orders – cashier orders averaged $9.79 compared to a $17.17 on their digital ordering menu.
Evidence has found that orders can be higher via Order & Spend apps by as much as 67% depending on your circumstances.
Why do mobile orders boost spending?
Buddhists know that desire is fleeting, which is why it’s important to make it easy to order things right away when the impulse strikes. The good thing about an Order & Pay is that it’s always there, meaning you’re never more than two clicks away from selecting something. No more awkwardly trying to flag a waiter down, and you can learn about your menu items at your own pace.
2. User Control
Ordering from a device puts customers more in control of ordering. That can be true of items which are obscure and difficult to pronounce or understand; researchers from the University of Singapore did an experiment which showed digital ordering specifically boosted purchases of difficult-to-pronounce items.
But it also allows them to make orders at their own pace, because there’s not the sense that somebody is waiting for you, which there always will be as a waiter patiently listens to your orders. That allows customers time to slow down and consider the menu more fully, making people more likely to make complex or multiple orders.
Why do pictures on printed menus look so ugly? One theory is that pictures code for casual dining or cheap food in the West – in Asian cultures, a much wider variety of restaurants show images. The second is that food photography is expensive or hard (although you can read our advice on restaurant food photography for Instagram and we believe the skills are accessible). But one reason not cited often enough is that the kind of printing and paper required to make food photos looks good is different, glossier, and more expensive than the best material for a menu which feels premium to touch. Online, there is no printing – and so that awkward fact isn’t a factor.
People order more when they’re shown images. That’s something we’re learning from our internal data, and also something that’s reflected in the best practices of the online ordering industry.
4. Targeted, automated upselling
Would you like that supersized? Remember, it’s not that people buy more expensive mains, it’s that they’re more likely to buy sides or modifiers which add size to the order. It would feel awkward and stilted to be asked by a human, after every order, “would you like fries with that?” – a good digital interface can do this in a way which isn’t intrusive, but gently encourages customers to buy more.
5. Slick menu engineering
Menu engineering is the idea that you can “build” a menu in such a way as to encourage customers to choose the most. The simple ways you see this done is with highlighted items (“popular”), and then a series of deeper and more complicated techniques which will become available in StoreKit Order & Pay as the data becomes available to say conclusively that a change will improve buy rates.
It’s also more easy to make menu changes yourself and to collect data on those changes. Running experiments does not require reprinting – you could run a series of controlled experiments. You could, for example, change the order of the menu categories; and you could identify which nights had larger orders and how it affected what people ordered using your reporting tools. This kind of optimisation is not possible with paper menus, so it’s possible to refine digital menus to a greater extent.
6. The “brace” principle
There’s a broader principle here.
There’s a tip you get in training as a Doctor: if you ever have to administer a shot to the stomach, you should tell them you will “do it on three.” Then, do it on the number two. The reason is that it’s important that stomach muscles are relaxed – it’s less painful that way.
And yet, we brace regardless. Paying for something is painful; it’s a moment of what gets called “high friction” because it’s unpleasant to do. Minimising this pain will lead to bigger orders and more regular customers. Maximising that pain will lead to smaller orders and less regular customers. It’s in the power of the restaurant to make it more pleasant, and yet most don’t.
In fact, some restaurants actively make customers more likely to “brace.”
Think about the process of getting and paying for a bill in a restaurant. You have to ask for it. It’s brought over in a black folder which makes the process private and ceremonial. The waiter leaves them to ponder the amount alone, as though they’ve just handed over an envelope with some bad news. Then, they have to ask to pay a second time before the waiter brings a card reader over. If they don’t have cash, and they wish to tip, they have to ask the waiter to add it manually – “would you like to tip me, sir?” is a question I have been asked and which it’s uncomfortable to answer, regardless of what that answer is.
Counter purchase restaurants and bars also make people brace. For reorders, you have to stand back up. The person buying has to memorise the orders of everybody else, rather than passing around a phone or entering their order as they say it. Then, they have to recount the orders of everybody else to the bar or counter staff, before the total is announced. Having to listen to, and then repeat, all the orders is high friction for the person paying for the food – that’s your customer.
These points of pain might sound small – silly to complain about and not a serious reason not to order at a restaurant. But in aggregate, they account for thousands of small differences in customer behaviour which add up to a huge amount of money for you and your business. Order & Pay systems get people to order more because they make ordering easier. And if they don’t, they’ve failed. It’s as simple as that.
How to get started
Our own system is StoreKit Order & Pay. Because of payment-only pricing, it’s possible to get started, create a restaurant and menu, and then to apply for payments later at your own pace. It’s the most intuitive system on the market for customers to use, and it’s the best looking. Get started right away to watch your store menu take off.