A 2018 survey reported by Hospitality Technology shows at least 45 percent of American adults planned to increase their use of online food ordering in the next year. From Seamless to Uber Eats, there are dozens of ways customers can order food digitally.
If you're a restaurant owner, in addition to adding your restaurant to a third-party food delivery system, you may also want to offer online ordering for to-go orders. If you want to capitalize on the growing trend of online food orders for your restaurant, here are things to consider when setting up and optimizing your digital ordering processes through your restaurant POS systems:
Find Third-Party Vendors That Are Right for You
If you're considering featuring your brand on third-party online ordering and delivery sites like Grubhub, find out which sites your customers are using before you decide. Most of these sites charge a commission fee per order (around 12 to 20 percent per order), so you'll want to make sure having a presence on them makes sense for your business model.
Ask your restaurant point of sale systems provider about how the system can integrate with other vendors. Some restaurant POS systems automatically integrate with some online ordering systems, while other orders will need to be manually entered into the restaurant POS once it is received. You'll want to ensure that your restaurant is not liable for fraudulent orders transacted through the third-party platform.
You should also find out how your restaurant will be paid when working with a third party. Some services will pay a weekly direct deposit for orders received, but payment schedules may vary. Make sure to work with services that complement the financial needs of your restaurant, and that you have merchant services in place to receive those payments securely.
Make Online Ordering a Breeze
Adding online ordering to your website means you can cut out the third-party commission fees. You can use secure virtual merchant services so that customers can pay for their order through your website, and the order is synced with your restaurant POS. If you want to give online customers the ability to pay using your in-restaurant credit card machine when picking up their food, make sure it can accept EMV chip cards so that your business is not liable for any fraudulent payments.
Whether you’re offering delivery or online ordering with pickup, some of the benefits to online ordering for your website include:
- You capture customer analytics with each order.
- Ordering for customers becomes quicker and simpler when your system reminds them of their last order.
- There are opportunities to upsell, by making suggestions based on previous orders or new orders.
- Loyalty programs are easily trackable online.
In addition to ordering through your own restaurant website, look at giving your customers online ordering options through sites like Facebook and Yelp. There are lots of social networks that give businesses customization options through their profiles, enabling customers to order online.
As you use online ordering, you will need to make sure your restaurant is prepared to handle new sales. Some things to consider:
- Where in your restaurant will you hand off orders to delivery drivers or people picking up their food?
- Do you have the staff available to quality check each order?
- For staff handling delivery and pick-up orders, how will their hourly pay compensate for a decrease in tips compared to on-the-floor servers?
- Do you have customer service in place to handle customer calls?
More online ordering means you'll need more staff in place to serve those digital customers. Customers might call your restaurant after ordering online to confirm, or they may need to add to or change their order. Your staff must be properly trained to ensure the order with a third-party is edited accordingly and is prepared to the satisfaction of the diner.
Make Sure Food Is Prepared to Travel
As Fortune noted, as restaurants prepare to meet the demand in electronic orders that have tripled over the past five years, they're also re-thinking how to make food more mobile-friendly. That means investing in delivery-friendly packaging and even customizing online menus so that they only feature foods that can last perfectly through the delivery cycle.
If your restaurant is employing their own delivery fleet, you must create a system that gets food to diners expediently without sacrificing quality. You'll need to train drivers about how to store food in their vehicles, as well as select drivers who qualify based on their driving records and insurance.
Consider Creating an Easy-Ordering App
The popular pizza chain, Domino's, became an online ordering trailblazer when it launched its Anyware app in 2015. Domino's customers can order pizza with simple commands through Google Home, Alexa, Slack, Messenger and other apps, as well as through their cars and smart TVs. Your restaurant could follow in the chain's footsteps and create your own easy online ordering app, or go a step further and enable voice-activated ordering a la Domino's.
According to eMarketer, people spend 90 percent of their internet time on smartphones in apps. Creating your own restaurant app that works with a virtual terminal enables ordering through the click of a button and makes your eatery always accessible to customers with smartphones.
Always Put the Customer First
While expanding your restaurant sales to online ordering can result in increased revenue for your business, a lack of preparation can turn off customers. Make sure to:
- Confirm that partnering with a third-party delivery system and/or employing your own delivery team makes financial sense for your restaurant.
- Be prepared to increase your team to handle online ordering and possibly create new payment structures for online orders team members.
- Have space in your restaurant dedicated to online ordering, including room for delivery drivers or customers to pick up their food and/or wait for their order.
Online ordering can provide a lot of potential for your restaurant in improving customer satisfaction, but a lack of organization can result in unhappy customers. Work with your restaurant POS systems provider, like North American Bancard, to see how you can use your current restaurant POS to start taking online orders.
Then, promote your online ordering options on your website, in your digital marketing campaigns, on social media, and on restaurant receipts, so your customers know they can order from you right from their home or wherever they have their smartphone.