Astute restaurant owners know that other restaurants are not their only competition.  There are many other businesses attracting the would-be takeout customer from your place.  Among them is the local supermarket and convenience store.

Online and mobile ordering can help you compete for more of those customers.

Jon Luther, chairman of Dunkin’ Brands, in the keynote speech at COEX 2012 in Las Vegas last month, described supermarkets and C-stores as “the new elephant in the room” for restaurants, according to Restaurant Retailer News.

Shoppers are already at the store, and providing foodservice gives them an opportunity to integrate their meal purchases with other purchases.  Add to that an accessible location, plus lots of parking, and the choice is easy.  Because of this, many supermarkets are now including casual dining areas in their layout.

So, how do you compete against that level of convenience from savvy supermarkets?

Well – it’s an interesting challenge, and quite frankly, can be hard, but it’s not impossible.

First, think about what you have on your side.  Most customers carry a perception restaurants can provide a higher quality meal (and hopefully better value) than a supermarketselling pre-packaged meals (a.k.a. “Home Meal Replacements”).  This is especially true if your restaurant offers unique menu items.

Second, you have to battle convenience with convenience.  This is where your mobile ordering site becomes important.  Customers need to be reminded that ordering from your restaurant is easy and accessible.

We know that convenience is the top reason people order online.  So, spread the news about your convenient mobile ordering site and remind customers your food is high quality.  Stress the fact that your online site offers access to your full menu (compared to a very limited supermarket menu).

“You (supermarkets and c-stores) win people with service and convenience…”, said Luther.

Restaurants just have to do it better.

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