Thinking about implementing a restaurant online ordering system? Congratulations! Such a system not only satisfies ever-increasing customer demand for more convenient ordering options; it can also fuel business growth by making upselling a consistent practice, enhancing order-taking efficiencies and accuracy, and more. However, reaping these benefits will be difficult unless you know what to look for in a restaurant online ordering system, and unless the technology offers the following key features:
- Integration with the point of sale (POS) system and kitchen
Takeout and delivery order information should “flow” directly from your restaurant online ordering system to your POS system. Otherwise, you’ll be unable to obtain a unified view of your business when attempting to identify sales trends or analyze analytics. Without such integration, you also run the risk of accepting orders for items that have already sold out in your restaurant during a given day or —in turn disappointing customers and, potentially, losing business.
Meanwhile, when a restaurant online ordering system allows orders to be electronically transmitted directly to the kitchen, food preparation inaccuracies stemming from miscommunications with customers are eliminated. So, too, are the time-consuming process, additional ingredient costs, and waste that come into play when food preparation errors are made and replacements must be provided to customers.
- Flexible order acceptance
As mentioned above, making it more convenient for customers order food for takeout or delivery is one of the primary objectives of implementing a restaurant online ordering system. This is why it’s important to find a restaurant online ordering system that’s be flexible enough to allow customers to place orders on a computer via your website, as well as through their smartphones. Accepting orders through only one of these two channels partially defeats the purpose of implementing a restaurant online ordering system in the first place.
- Real-time menu updates
With this feature, last-minute promotions can be offered for takeout and delivery as easily as they can for consumption on-site. You can also avoid customer disappointment by deleting items from your menu should they become unavailable due to unexpected high demand or ingredient shortages.
- Order customization and retention options
The best restaurant online ordering system is designed so that patrons can customize their orders by entering special food preparation (e.g., “extra-crispy”) and delivery instructions (e.g., “knock loudly because doorbell doesn’t work”). Such a system also stores customers’ order histories, allowing them to place re-orders for identical items with one or two clicks, as well as permits patrons to place orders in advance for delivery or pickup at a future time.
- Enhanced upselling capability
Part of the beauty of a restaurant online ordering system is the ease of upselling. When orders are taken by telephone, employees can easily forget to engage in this strategy—and consumers can simply ignore it and end the conversation. This doesn’t happen if messages intended to entice customers to try new items, add to their orders, or take advantage of special deals appearing on the online order page—in text, images, or a combination thereof.
- Enhanced communication with customers
Customers placing orders for takeout or delivery like to know how much time will elapse until it is ready for pickup or arrives at its destination. An online restaurant ordering system should provide this information to customers prior order placement.
Careful selection of an online restaurant ordering system is as critical to your takeout and delivery business as making the right choice when it comes to other front- and back-end technology. Ensuring that the system you order includes the six above-mentioned six features will afford you the biggest bang for your buck.