Last Thursday, May 23, 2019, Google made an announcement that most in the restaurant industry might have called inevitable—it introduced the ability for consumers to order online directly in Google Search, Maps, and Google Assistant.
The launch supports several online ordering and delivery services including Doordash, Postmates, Delivery.com, Slice, and ChowNow. As a consumer who has used this feature several times during its beta period at one of my favorite local restaurants, I can say that the experience is easy, efficient, and for lack of a better pun…seamless.
This new feature represents just another data point around how consumers are interacting with restaurants differently than they ever have before. Because of features like Google's new ordering capabilities, the expectations around convenience, speed to service, and immediate gratification in this industry are higher than ever. This new user experience magnifies the importance of consumer intent for marketing and IT teams, and how they can funnel that intent into a path to purchase on their sites, off their sites, and in store.
So how should restaurant operators assess not only this new technology, but the massive shift we're witnessing in how consumers interact with our restaurants?
Take a step back and evaluate how your potential customers are actually interacting with your brand within the digital ecosystem. Where are they starting their journey and how do you ensure that you're top of mind during their highest moment of intent? Consumers may not be starting their journey thinking about your restaurant — almost 70% of consumers search for a restaurant by cuisine type or food item, not by a restaurant name.
Then, even if a consumer discovers your restaurant, they're usually not making high intent decisions on your site, especially in the restaurant industry. Most businesses see about 2.7x the amount of traffic on third-party services like maps, apps, directories, and voice assistants versus on their own domain. The average restaurant sees 12x the amount of high intent traffic off their website.*
Here are three questions to ask yourself about your restaurant brand, to gauge how prepared you are to support these continued enhancements to consumer digital experiences:
What is your current strategy to funnel traffic into your preferred online ordering experience?
How many steps or clicks does it take for a consumer to discover your brand on a map, app or directory before they land in your ordering experience?
How often do you show up in the search results when consumers search for unbranded terms relevant to your brand (i.e. a search for one of your menu items or the cuisine that your brand serves)?
Google has outlined how consumers can order via their new platforms on search, maps, and Google Assistant. It follows the same user experience from discovery to a click to a business's site, phone number, or directions via a Google Business Profile. Becoming the answer in the search results is your key to capitalizing on this new user experience. Brands will never be able to control the full user experience or the artificial intelligence algorithms of new digital services, but they can control the facts these services know about their brand in order to be the answer at a consumers' highest moment of intent.
Learn more about how you can meet hungry customers in their moment of intent with Yext for Food.
*Yext proprietary data, 2019