Yelp today announced a bundle of new features that will, according to a company press release, “help restaurants’ front-of-house operations.” Among those new features is one aimed at improving operations around takeout orders by extending the capabilities of Yelp’s existing Waitlist tool.
Waitlist has been in Yelp’s restaurant tech arsenal for a few years. Up to now, the feature has been most useful to dine-in customers looking to “get in line” virtually and avoid having to cram in the restaurant lobby or bar to wait for a table.
But when the COVID-19 pandemic halted dining room service last year, some businesses began using Waitlist to manage takeout and even drive-thru orders. Without going into great detail, Yelp noted in today’s press release that the issue was that the original Waitlist “wasn’t built to meet this growing need.”
The need to more easily fulfill takeout orders is not certainly going away. Recent data from a Paytronix and PYMTS survey found that takeout orders accounted for $486 billion, or 63 percent, of restaurant sales in 2020.
In response to takeout’s leading spot among off-premises formats, Yelp will now allow restaurants to manage all to-go orders via Waitlist.
From today’s press release:
“[Restaurants] can easily enter and keep track of all takeout orders in the app – whether the orders were received via phone or website — and can input relevant information, such as type of car to accommodate for curbside pickup. Repeat diner information is stored for easy autofill of pertinent details, such as phone number and dietary preferences. From there, the host can text consumers when their order is ready, allowing them to maintain social distancing when picking up.”
The system offers some automation of the pickup process. For example, instead of having to manually input a text to the customer when the order is ready, a restaurant staffer simply triggers an automatic notification.
Today’s press release did not mention any further automation of Waitlist, though it seems a necessary next step in a restaurant industry getting quickly saturated with solutions with which to digitally manage takeout orders. Right now, further automating the takeout process is a big opportunity for restaurant tech companies.
Yelp announced a few other new features today, including one called Guest Profiles, which lets restaurants store information about their guests (e.g., dietary preferences) in the system. The company also announced a point-of-sale integration, improved analytics, and some incremental upgrades to the consumer-facing Yelp experience. You can read the full list of new features via a company blog post.
Waitlist for takeout, meanwhile, is available at no extra charge for restaurants with nine or fewer locations. For those with 10 or more units, pricing varies.