Today we will review online ordering service options and a strategy to improve your potential for business by using the latest technology available.
The full potential of online ordering is yet to come as we move from iphones, wireless devices to Alexa, Cortana, beacons, robots and artificial intelligence. Mobile devices are a convenience tool and should have already be important to your strategy. Would you take an order from a customer that was texted to your business?
Obviously, as restaurant owners / operators / managers, there is little time to learn complicated systems only to have them change again in a year. Also, new companies continue to appear with the latest and greatest promise. There is a risk to all of these services and even well known systems can close their doors.
Most of the big providers for POS systems already have online ordering as an add-on option (which many charge extra for) or they have partnered with a company to offer you a dedicated system. The obvious benefit is 100% control and no competitors are shown on your online ordering website.
I will not be looking at the dedicated systems connected directly to the POS providers. Instead we are looking for methods to improve online exposure with no upfront investment. (Almost every online ordering service from a third party will cost a fee per transaction after the sale is completed)
The goal is to grow sales by Improving exposure online and offer more ordering options for customers with low or no capital investment.
This is not limited to delivery only operations. Any restaurant can benefit. Setting up an online ordering system for take out makes it easier for the customers who crave the tastes.
Approaching an online ordering philosophy could include:
- Each online ordering service is another potential order taker. Think about more than one.
- Online ordering services may link to your main website and/or blog.
- Your restaurants blog can link to one of your online ordering systems online.
- Each online ordering service could have a different menu set up to create "tests".
- With your advertising, each print piece, flier, or menu will offer the opportunity to order online (again, each piece to target a different online ordering service and specific phone number to further "test" the impact of your marketing dollar (ROI = Return On Investment)
- An Online ordering service could be another method to track such things as fundraising activities. An easy system to have any non-profit promote your business via the online ordering system and reward them with a contribution based on the transactions or sales.
With these thoughts in mind, even if your business already has a dedicated POS (point of sale) system and a dedicated online ordering system, it could still be of benefit to include other online services. Remember: the purpose is to increase exposure and the number of opportunities to take an order.
The Cons of online ordering:
- Tracking the multiple online services takes organization and time.
- Everything in moderation, test everything.
- Making the necessary changes or updates (once per month?) takes time.
- Can you trust an online service company to respond quickly enough to any issues?
- Any online order taker must be 100% trustworthy. If a potential customer has an issue with the online ordering service, you may never know.
- Trust but Verify. Assigning a staff person to test it once per week to ensure good service.
- Training staff for the new methods of accepting orders other than the traditional ordering will be a paradigm shift.
- A system needs to be in place to confirm large orders or ensure customer satisfaction.
- There is a potential profit concern should an investment be needed up front.
The benefits of online ordering in the past have been:
- Higher ticket average
- (some have seen +25% for online orders)
- More orders with less calls
- Lowers labor costs
- Improves speed of service
- Customers make more educated menu choices
- Which improves satisfaction
- Changes to the menu can happen quickly – at low/no cost
- Improve Cost of Sales with special promotions & specials, moving the menu mix
- Increases frequency of orders (because of convenience)
- Improves online exposure
- Links back to blog or website offers more exposure to other services
- This is great if you have fundraising, community involvement, event calendars, now hiring campaigns or press releases available.
With these pros and cons in mind, only you can decide whether adding an online ordering system is beneficial. It is dependent on you, your team and your community.
While it is important to allocate time each month improve exposure, there are communities where the benefits don't pay off. With mobile devices now a part of our culture, there are new opportunities to leverage.
The best news might be that you can start with a very low cost. (and some are free to get started)
Here is a list of online ordering companies to consider.
EAT24Hours - http://eat24hours.com
iMenu360 - http://www.imenu360.com
OrderTalk - http://www.ordertalk.com
GoMobo - http://gomobo.com
BigHoller - http://www.bigholler.com
eHungry - http://www.ehungry.com
Menufy - https://www.menufy.com/sales
411eat - http://www.411eat.com
Online Ordering System - https://www.orderingonlinesystem.com
Gloria Food - https://www.gloriafood.com
ChowNow - https://www.chownow.com
OpenTable - http://www.opentable.com
This is only a snapshot from a long list of options available.
I am not connected with any specific company nor is there any benefit to me for you to choose one over the other. Every operation is a little different so it is best to consider your needs and then choose accordingly.
Whether you are a very small operation and want something for FREE or willing to make an investment up front, don’t wait. It is simpler than you think to get at least one of the online ordering options up and running.
Every system has its own idiosyncrasies. Technology is not perfect. If you ask for references and do some testing in advance, you will be better prepared.
Having an online ordering system only works if you integrate it into your marketing campaign. It is not automatic. It is up to you to offer the service and benefit.
If you are a franchisee, online ordering might make a franchisor nervous. It is a potential risk when franchisees take orders online, external from the operation. Keep great records and operate with integrity.
Your feedback about any online ordering software system you like is very welcome.