Digitalize or Die: Why Local Restaurants Need to Embrace Digital.

40, 50, and 8.

No, these aren’t the winning lotto numbers (I’m not sure I’d share them if they were).

These numbers each represent an incredible statistic about the increasing customer demand for digital ordering solutions.

These brands  — among others like Taco Bell, KFC, and Domino’s — are some of the biggest players in the restaurant/food delivery digitalization movement, and they have the results to prove it. 

With results like 40 million downloads and billions in revenue, how can local restaurants and coffee shops possibly expect to compete in the digitalization games? 

The reality is that they can’t, at least not in the same way. 

Digitalization undoubtedly looks different for locally-owned restaurants and coffee shops, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth pursuing… because it absolutely is. 


Digitalization: What Your Restaurant Needs To Know

Here’s what you need to know about digitalization in the restaurant industry…

  • 61% of diners want digital options from the restaurants they eat at. 
  • Even when on-premises, 64% of diners prefer digital ordering options (like kiosks). 
  • 35% of customers increased their restaurant app usage from August to October 2021.

    …and here’s why locally-owned restaurants need to (re)consider their own digitalization efforts:

So, while you probably can’t fork over $400 million like Ronald’s bottomless-ball-pit of development funds can, that doesn’t mean you can’t digitize your business in different ways.


Adding Digitalization to Your Menu

From the very small to the very large, all restaurants can (and should) embrace digitalization. There are a ton of different ways that you can adapt to meet the digital-first needs and wants of your customers, ranging from simple and inexpensive to complex and high-value. 

Here are some of our favorites:

Digital Shift 1 - Add a Customer Service Chatbot

When the dinner rush is in full swing, it can be hard to keep up with customer service inquiries, whether they’re phone calls, Instagram DMs, or emails. Adding a customer service chatbot to your website allows you to reprioritize customer inquiries without taking away from other tasks competing for your attention. With the number of chatbot options and integrations available (like ChatGPT), this customer-centric option doesn’t take a lot of time, effort, or maintenance to implement.  

Digital Shift 2 - Start Accepting NFC Payments 

Considering that 48.7 million Americans use Apple Pay, it’s also a good idea to consider NFC payments alongside other cashless options. NFC payments, or “near-field communication” payments, are steadily increasing in popularity, with 89% of Americans using digital payments in their day-to-day lives. So, while you’ll likely need to upgrade your POS and handheld systems to accommodate NFC, it’s a huge opportunity to streamline and expand your payment strategy. 

Digital Shift 3 - Restaurant App & Loyalty Program 

If you’re looking to go above and beyond with digitalization, a restaurant app and loyalty program is an idea that we already know pays off. Craver can craft you a custom-branded app that allows you to leverage the power of app-based ordering, alongside a loyalty program that rewards your customers for choosing you over the other guys. An app offers your customers the tech they crave without giving up the local charm that keeps ‘em coming back again and again. 

Digital Shift 4 - Self-Ordering Kiosk 

Now, if you’re searching for the icing on your digitalization cake, a self-serve kiosk is it. Not only are Craver’s kiosk interfaces custom-built to match your brand identity — so your uniqueness stands out even more — but they use the same cutting-edge tech that the big players are using. Freeing up your order-taking team, sending orders straight to the kitchen for faster service, and putting the ordering power in your customer's hands? Now that's a good customer experience. 


Why It Matters

Keeping up with chains like KFC, Domino’s, and McDonald’s is near-impossible, but as a local restaurant, you have something they can never have: dedicated diners who prefer supporting you over anyone else.  

So, for local restaurateurs to keep their loyal customers happy and coming back time and time again, digitalization needs to be the future of your business. 

The question isn’t “Do I need to digitalize?” but “How can I start?” 


Dig Deeper: Learn how restaurant chains have used self-serve kiosks to transform their businesses here.