5 Digital Ordering Trends for Hospitality Operators in 2021


December 22, 2020

As we (finally) come to the end of 2020, we wanted to share some of the learnings and trends we’ve observed in digital ordering for food and drink operators during this rollercoaster of a year. Our data has revealed a prodigious shift in the way customers are engaging with hospitality brands as a response to the Covid-19 pandemic, highlighting how digital ordering is driving up consumer spend and new ordering channels are gaining traction.

The data, which has been aggregated from analysis of Vita Mojo’s customer base and hundreds of sites across the pub, restaurant and QSR sectors, shows how digital transformation has accelerated across the hospitality sector this year – and how it will continue to shape food and drink operations in 2021

  1. Digital ordering has replaced traditional ordering methods for hospitality operators
    Hospitality was in a very different place at the beginning of 2020 and customer habits shifted massively this year. The vast majority of food and drinks orders were placed through traditional ordering methods such as walk-ins via EPOS, and many pubs, cafes and restaurants weren’t considering using digital ordering. As we come to the end of 2020, our client data shows the reverse to be true: only 5% of orders are made through traditional ordering methods, while up to 95% are through digital ordering channels. Ordering and paying at table has seen an extremely high adoption rate amongst customers and, on average (and when permitted to trade) accounted for up to 90% of transactions.
  2. Customer spend is higher via digital ordering in pubs, restaurants and cafes
    The data shows customers are spending on average 20% more through digital ordering channels compared to EPOS sales. This difference highlights the power digital is having on helping hospitality operators improve their bottom line. Boston Tea Party has found their customers spend 20% more on Order & Pay than at the till as a result of showing off their full cafe menus and making it easy for their customers to customise orders and add extras. Similarly, Brewhouse & Kitchen’s new digital menus allow customers to easily explore their full range of drinks, and they’re opting for a wider variety of more expensive drink options as a result, increasing ATV across their pubs by 30%.
  3. Omnichannel ordering has kept revenue flowing for hospitality operators
    The first lockdown supported a jump in Click & Collect and Delivery with these channels averaging around 58% of total orders throughout this period. The summer months reset customer expectations on safety and contact with July to September driving a much higher adoption rate of ordering and paying via own devices (88%). As operators continue to tackle the challenges presented by tier restrictions, omnichannel ordering will continue to unlock huge opportunities. Prior to the most recent lockdown in England, the stand out digital ordering channels used by consumers were Click and Collect (17.2%) and Mobile Order and Pay (73.2%).
  4. There is a renewed focus on customer loyalty within hospitality 
    As footfall dropped drastically from March, there was a greater need to attract new customers and ensure that old ones keep coming back. To support this shift, Vita Mojo developed discount functionality and introduced a customisable loyalty scheme to our digital ordering system, providing greater flexibility and personalisation for customers. We also got creative, developing Leon’s new coffee subscription pilot which resulted in 6000+ new Leon Club members in its first month!
  5. An agile approach is essential for the unknown
    Hospitality has played piggy in the middle this year as governments have tackled the pandemic with varying restrictions. For Vita Mojo, an agile approach allowed us to develop our digital ordering technology at speed, and quickly adjust our roadmap and re-prioritise product developments to meet rapidly changing market and client needs. Using an agile approach, we developed our technology to support the Eat Out To Help Out scheme and transformed our system’s logic to manage new and variable VAT rates. Additionally, we recently established a dedicated Customer Support function to provide our clients with better day-to-day support during this tough period, and we’re actively working to reduce strain on our servers during periods of high demand. An agile approach allows us to react quickly to ever-changing market and client requirements.

As we draw a close on what has been the toughest year, it’s fascinating to see how the pandemic has driven new behaviours and how operators have responded. Before the summer, Order and Pay accounted for a tiny proportion of actual transactions, and now it has become an accepted habit. It’s remarkable how quickly this has become rooted in our everyday lives.

This behavioural change can unlock a whole new world of opportunities for operators as they become less reliant on staff to place and process orders and take payment, allowing employees to focus on guest experience and value-adding activity. It also enables hospitality operators to collect large quantities of valuable customer data. These rich insights are potentially transformative for restaurant, cafe and pub businesses, allowing them to make smarter decisions and personalise the customer journey.

Digital ordering will continue to play a huge role in the hospitality customer experience in 2021. The operators who are thinking holistically about tech, and are able to unlock its full potential will be those who survive the short term and thrive in the long term

Considering a new digital ordering system for your pub, cafe of restaurant in 2021? Vita Mojo could have the solution you need