A guide, ‘How can my hospitality business set the right e‑commerce strategy?‘ accompanies this blog.
The world’s consumers are coming to depend on the mobility, flexibility and personalisation that the digital world provides them, especially the younger generations. No matter the industry or business they are engaging with, the sub-40s (and many over 40) expect a seamless, digital experience. Enter e-commerce: “the buying and selling of products and services by businesses and consumers over the Internet”.
E-commerce for hospitality
It’s understandable that hospitality companies may not initially understand why they need an e-commerce offering, after all, they aren’t selling the sort of products found in supermarkets or retail outlets. But they do. The word ‘e-commerce’ may conjure an image of twenty-somethings shopping for clothes, or a family ordering groceries online, but there is so much more to it than this. As well as selling physical products, e-commerce technology can be used to arrange meetings, book tables or rooms, pre-order food, manage loyalty schemes or communicate directly with customers.
It’s also important for online visibility. Since the inception of the internet, e-commerce has played an ever more important role in the marketing of companies of all sizes. Now businesses are competing for top billing, not just on the high street, but in the online environment. The hospitality industry is no exception. The more routes for a customer to interact with a brand, the better in the eyes of Google Search.
Arguably, the greatest benefit of e-commerce for the hospitality industry is the convenience it provides. Present customers with a convenient and easy experience and they will return to you repeatedly.
The power of pre-ordering
An e-commerce technology known to improve customer convenience is pre-ordering. Through a pre-ordering online or mobile platform companies can reduce customer waiting times, raise the average spend per customer and strengthen brand loyalty. Such platforms can further promote convenience by allowing owners to log in and update their customers’ view in seconds. Whether it’s changing a menu to include the daily special or to mark a product as out-of-stock, this ease of access and adaptation is perfect for streamlining business productivity and improving the customer experience.
From the consumers’ point of view the convenience of pre-ordering comes from the time and, potentially, money it saves them. There’s no need to trawl up and down a high street reading menus when the same thing can be accessed instantly through apps and websites. More than that, an online pre-order portal can be made accessible 24 hours a day. The customer may not be ordering at 3am, but they can still see what a restaurant has on offer and order for the next day. They can also access unique offers and promotions that the business makes available to loyal customers, something that builds their brand loyalty and encourages them to order time and again.
E-commerce gives businesses and their customers round-the-clock convenience and a good e-commerce strategy, properly implemented, can drive higher traffic alongside an increase in sales and profits. To lack an e-commerce solution is akin to a crime in the eyes of some consumers, and may even repel prospective customers from a brand. We are in an age when consumers rely on the internet to seek new sources of information, fast, and then use the information they find to make purchasing decisions. If they find a brand, and enjoy the experience they have with it, they can easily become brand ambassadors. E-commerce technology integrates into every aspect of a brand experience, and as we know, good hospitality is all about the experience.
If you’re concerned that your e-commerce strategy needs updating, you would like to know how to put the right strategy in place, or want advice on implementing a strategy, we have written a handy, free guide for your convenience. Simply download it here.