Unless you haven’t been in a restaurant other than your own lately, you’ve probably noticed that many foodservice establishments now offer customers the option to order—and sometimes even pay for—their food online. If you haven’t considered doing the same, there’s no better time than now to jump on the bandwagon. Here’s why every restaurant should offer online ordering:
Customers have come to expect online ordering capability
Online shopping—whether from a home computer or via a mobile app—has been tightly embraced by consumers over the past few years, in large part because of the convenience it affords. Increasingly demanding and tech-savvy consumers now demand the same convenience when it comes to purchasing food. While the availability—or lack of—online ordering capability may not influence every potential customer’s decision to patronize a particular restaurant, it will definitely play into some individuals’ plans.
Online ordering lets customers interact with your restaurant(s) in their preferred manner, leading to a more positive experience
According to the National Restaurant Association, a desire to enjoy a positive customer experience—and to pick up their orders as they would like—leads 54 percent of adults to harness online ordering from a restaurant’s website or mobile app. This includes, but may not be limited to, pre-ordering meals on a mobile device and picking them up curbside; pre-ordering to bypass the line and walking into the restaurant to retrieve an order; and placing an order on a home computer and having it delivered to the door.
Online ordering boosts order throughput without requiring other changes in staffing and operational procedures
While curbside pickup, inside pickup, and delivery are great for generating additional revenue, they can also present challenges on the staffing and operational fronts. Notably, traditional methods of takeout and delivery order acceptance require adequate employee coverage—which isn’t always possible during busy periods. And even if you have enough staff to handle the telephones, customers will be turned off if they try to reach your establishment(s) to place their own orders or make a reservation, only to find that they cannot get through because the line is continuously busy.
With an online ordering option, you’ll almost definitely receive fewer takeout and delivery orders via telephone—keeping lines of communication more open, reducing customer frustration, increasing customer satisfaction and taking sales to new heights. Employee productivity is also likely to increase. By some estimates, order volume can be up by as much as 30 percent when online ordering capability is available as an alternative to using the telephone.
Online ordering increases the likelihood of order accuracy and a larger tab
Background noise from restaurants’ dining room and even the kitchen, coupled with other distractions, can interfere with how accurately employees record orders taken by telephone. Meanwhile, justifiably or otherwise, customers may feel rushed when giving telephone orders, causing them to make their own errors. Miscommunication and mistakes are far less likely to happen when customers use online ordering and self-select their food. The lack of pressure when ordering online may also spur customers to purchase more items than they had originally intended, boosting their check total.
Online ordering opens doors to rich customer information
Online ordering allows you to easily collect useful data about customers, ranging from their addresses to their food preferences. This data can be used to create targeted promotions and loyalty program incentives, among other marketing initiatives.
Online ordering is here to stay. Restaurant owners who embrace it stand to do a more effective job of attracting customers and cultivating their loyalty, while those who resist may find themselves lagging behind in the race for consumers’ dining dollar.