The metaverse is still in its early stages and consumers –and operators – may not fully understand it. But could the virtual world people access in the metaverse have real-world potential for restaurants? New research from PYMNTS and Paytronix found that it could, particularly among grab-and-go customers. Of the consumers surveyed who already participate in the metaverse or are interested in it, 38 percent said they would be willing to integrate restaurant purchases into this environment, including 51 percent of grab-and-go customers. Greater clarity about the connection between food and the metaverse may increase those numbers: A combined 21 percent of consumers surveyed who said they are not interested in buying food in the metaverse said it’s because they are either unfamiliar with it or think it is complicated. If you’re curious to see how the restaurant-metaverse connection evolves, or to understand it better, consider Chipotle, which is launching a Burrito Builder on the gaming platform Roblox. Players of Roblox can build burritos virtually to earn Burrito Bucks, then exchange that virtual currency for real food at a Chipotle restaurant. Marketing Dive reports that IHOP is tapping into the metaverse with a virtual loyalty program that allows users to earn digital PanCoins that can be exchanged for real-world pancakes. The startup Tablz has also developed a reservations technology that allows guests to virtually tour a restaurant and select their preferred table when making a reservation – something that could help enhance a dinner out on a special occasion.
If you’re generating more business from your website nowadays, integrating a chatbot may help you better capitalize on the traffic coming to you. Chatbots have become an easy plug-and-play feature for more restaurants and can serve as a kind of virtual employee by suggesting food and drink pairings, upselling menu items, promoting offers and upcoming events, processing payments and soliciting feedback. They can also help infuse your site with your brand’s personality – if you’ve ever ordered a Domino’s pizza and encountered the brand’s wise-cracking chatbot, Dom, you know how it works.
Like it or not, the ease of ordering from your restaurant online may influence your guests’ decision to order from you as much as the quality of your food. When is the last time you walked through the guest journey on your website or app? Ensure you’re seizing opportunities to not only make the process faster, easier and less frustrating, but also to upsell and capture guest data. Acceptance of a range of payment options, including gift cards, is a given. Can your guests also arrange to add a tip for deliveries – or just because? Are you asking them if they want to opt in to text or email offers? Is your interface intuitive, with minimal scrolling and clicking – and does it look as good on a smartphone as on a laptop? Are you tempting guests to add an appetizer to their order or choose a larger-size drink for a small increase in price? Are you automating your menu prices across platforms? At a time when your menu prices are likely in flux and guests are watching, make sure the prices on your website and other online channels match the ones guests see in your dining room.