Online Ordering: A Bandwagon Restaurants Should Get On

Restaurant Trends

Not only have the big-box restaurants incorporated online ordering, but many local restaurants have hopped onto the wagon over the past year. Since you already have, or are hopefully preparing, an online presence, online ordering is an essential addition.

There are many reasons for adding online ordering:

Customers Expect Online Ordering

As online ordering becomes prolific, customers are often disappointed to find their local restaurant does not have that capability. Perhaps they want to enjoy a meal at home privately or for a celebration. In this case, customers are more likely to order from another restaurant rather than picking up the phone or waiting for an order in-store.

Improved Customer Service

If you currently have take-out services, consider the efficiency in time and accurate orders with online ordering. With most take-out services, customers call in, which can easily lead to mistaken orders and misunderstandings. Online ordering takes all of that out of the equation.

After a customer submits their order, even paying in advance, they just show up to pick up their food. This also allows your entryway to be free from anxious take-out customers.

Another benefit of online ordering is the pop-up upsell technique, notify customers who have opted-in to emails of specials, or provide them ‘return customer’ discounts. In fact, you can build a rewards and loyalty program into your online ordering program.

Part of online ordering is providing access to your menu 24/7. This is helpful for customers trying out a new restaurant or planning a get-together. While on the website, perhaps they see a coupon or special that fits into their current or future plans.

Do you already have delivery services for orders? Be sure to integrate this into your online ordering.

With a POS, You’re Halfway There Already

Point of sale (POS) devices are module-based, so adding a new module or integrating new software is generally seamless. Additional modules from the basic purchasing transactions include:

  • Online ordering
  • Product ordering and inventory
  • Automated schedules
  • Table and order management.

Most POS devices and software can be upgraded to incorporate online ordering. This will help keep orders organized and perfectly timed for pickup.

Another Stream of Revenue

Imagine if you had to invest in adding 30% more tables and chairs to your restaurant. That is technically what you are doing with a system for online ordering.

When the ordering system is integrated with your POS, you will be able to see trends in online ordering versus in-house orders and in-person take-out orders. By identifying trends, you will know if you need to add kitchen staff, and if there is room to incentivize customers to order at different times by offering specials for those other hours.

A great way to boost online orders is to creatively link social events with discounts, such as football or other sports-games, into opportunities for growing your online business. Provide special game day discounts for those ordering before and during the ‘big game.’

Some establishments have reported a 30% increase to their bottom line after adding online ordering. With that type of increase in orders, it is important to incorporate a strong POS and online ordering system to stay ahead of your competitors. This is no longer a bandwagon, but an essential to future business.

Additional Considerations of Online Ordering

If you have been successful with take-out orders, it should be easy to transition to online ordering. If not, then you have some planning to do, including:

  • Food packaging

There are a lot of options for packaging food items. You will need to consider material, sizes, sauce or condiment packets or small cups with lids, and the cost per meal. It may be necessary to do some trial and error packaging, including wrapping items in a foil pouch. Staff and regular customers are perfect for trying new methods of packing food items and will be honest about how the food looks and tastes when they get home.

  • Pricing

Are food items priced appropriately when taking into consideration the difference in overhead for in-house dining versus take-out? Should you include a small fee for disposable utensils as an up-sell option? These are some of the pricing questions to consider.

Once your POS and online ordering options are running smoothly, the return on investment can happen quickly. Be sure to properly launch your restaurant’s online ordering capability. Offer specials for first orders and reward programs for return customers to engage them to return for future online orders.

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