While restaurant operators will always be compelled to accept takeout and delivery orders via the telephone, an increasing number of establishments now offer customers the option of placing their orders online. This is a smart business move, as consumers have come to expect online ordering capability and may take their dining dollars elsewhere when it is not available to them. But online ordering also helps to fuel restaurants’ growth by affording them several other benefits, including:
Larger orders and increased sales: Restaurant owners and employees alike often neglect to engage in suggestive selling and upselling when taking telephone orders. With online ordering systems, messages intended to entice customers to try new items, add to their orders, and/or take advantage of special deals are right on the web page in the form of text, images or a combination of the two. In many instances, the end-result is a larger tab.
Additionally, online ordering systems let customers take their time in deciding how to augment their orders, pushing the sales envelope even farther. This is not true in telephone ordering scenarios, where patrons sometimes decline offers just because they have not had enough time to consider them and/or want to end the call.
Enhanced order accuracy. Miscommunications and misunderstandings between customers and the employees who are recording their telephone orders are very common, especially at establishments with language barriers. These lead to food preparation errors. Online ordering allows orders to be electronically transmitted directly to the kitchen, eliminating food preparation inaccuracies that stem from such miscommunications as well as the costly, time-consuming process of re-making each dish as directed and delivering the replacement to the customer.
What’s more, with printouts of online orders in hand, restaurants need not assume responsibility should a customer claim that food was not prepared as requested or that an item that was ordered was not delivered. This, too, saves restaurant owners time and money.
Heightened order-taking efficiencies—and fewer frustrated customers: Online ordering systems free up restaurants’ telephones for customers who prefer to place their orders with an employee. The shorter the wait to reach a restaurant by telephone, the less likely patrons will be to hang up in frustration and place an order elsewhere. What’s more, fewer ringing telephones means employees can spend extra time assisting callers, increasing customer satisfaction and again bolstering the likelihood of stronger customer loyalty.
Ability to build a robust database: When new customers order online, their names become part of a database that can then be used to create a loyalty program and distribute last-minute, on-the-fly offers to generate business during slow periods or direct attention to new menu items.
Access to powerful analytics: Online ordering systems also make it easy to track and analyze sales patterns, as well as to determine whether and how customers are responding to discounts, coupons, and other offers. This actionable information can be used adjust menus, promotions, and the like to better meet patrons’ needs and increase the potential for repeat business.
Expanded market reach: Services that connect consumers with the online ordering systems of multiple local restaurants are becoming increasingly popular. Partnering with one of these services makes it easier to attract customers who may not otherwise have known about your establishment and its offerings.
Just as adding new menu items and undertaking different marketing initiatives play a key role in a restaurant’s growth, online ordering systems comprise a major catalyst for remaining in the black. With so many benefits and few, if any drawbacks, online ordering merits consideration no matter the size of your restaurant operation.