The Online Customer Experience

Posted by Elizabeth Kelly

Elizabeth was the Marketing Specialist for SpeedLine Solutions from 2017 to 2021. As the previous Managing Editor for the On Point Blog, she ensured our audiences got the restaurant and delivery technology information and news that we're known for.

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Your online ordering site is often a new customer’s first experience with your brand. That’s why it’s so critical that the ordering process be seamless from your customer’s point of view.

Google is your friend

The first step in placing an order online is finding (and choosing) a restaurant online. This usually means searching your company online—either directly searching for your restaurant site, or searching something like “pizza near me.” Googling a restaurant before trying it—whether for directions, hours, to check out reviews, or to find out if you deliver—is the new norm. Even customers who regularly order from your restaurant may not have bookmarked your website; they may start every order with a general web search.

Being easily found is key.

Google My Business lets you link your online ordering site directly from your Google listing. This means that your Google listing, which appears to the right of the search results, can link to your website and also point customers directly to your online ordering (if it’s a different link).


Mobile-first mentality

In 2017,68% of Americans had a smartphone. Google, the most used search engine in the United States, now penalizes sites that do not perform well on a phone. Your site needs to be easy for customers to use whether they are on a computer, a tablet, or a smartphone. Go through your current site and check:

  • How easy is it to place an order on each of those devices?
  • Do menu items shrink down to unreadable sizes on your phone?
  • Is your website confusing to navigate on a tablet?
  • Are buttons easy to press, and selections and changes easy to make?
  • How obvious is the checkout? Is it easy to navigate?
  • Do featured items stand out?

The best mobile sites are designed with a mobile-first mentality, and then adapted to desktop. SpeedDine, SpeedLine’s online ordering offering, for instance, was designed first for mobile, and then made responsive for larger devices, such as computers and tablets.


If you're not thinking about the mobile user, then you're just counting yourself out as far as getting their business. When you look at all the third-party sites, 95% of those people using those sites use it from their phone.

The way that it displays and the ease of use on the mobile site, I would say it's even more important than the way it displays in the browser because no one wants to open up their laptop just to order a pizza when they have their phone in their hand. And chances are they're probably on it already doing something else, whether it's social media or answering emails or those kinds of things.

So people are going to use the tool that's in their hand and the one that's the closest, the easiest, and the fastest.

- Todd Vierra, Director of Operations, Spinato's Pizzeria in Building Your Brand Experience: Online Ordering




Many factors contribute to your customers’ experience on your online ordering site. Loading speeds, navigation, and order flow are big contributors.


Is your online ordering site slow to load? Above, we talked about how easy it should be for customers to find your website, and how important it is to optimize your site for search. But did you know that Google also penalizes slow sites in the search results? Google takes its cues from internet users around the world, and in their own research, found thatpeople lack patience for slow sites.

If your ordering site is too slow, customers will click away. They’re hungry!

Navigation and order flow

How much time and effort went into designing the layout of your printed dine-in or takeout menu? You wanted to: make it easy for your customers to find what they were looking for, feature certain menu items more prominently, and ensure it was accurate and enticing.

Your online menu is just as important.

Evaluate the site layouts and order flow when evaluating online ordering providers. How prominently are featured items and specials displayed? Is it easy to find desserts, drinks, sides and mains? Can you order as a guest, or are you forced to log in every time? Can you switch mid-order from a regular pizza to a half-and-half? Or do you have to start over? Can you switch easily from takeout to delivery? Check out without losing your mind?

If you visit your site with a specific order in mind, is it easy to find those menu items? Is it easy to browse and add additional items?

Speed and ease of use drive return visits.


After the order

Once an order is placed, the transaction isn’t over. Not all aspects of the customers’ online experience actually happen online. Consider what goes on behind the scenes, like making sure orders placed online come through to your POS and aren’t forgotten by the kitchen.

SpeedDine connects directly with the local store and the order information is received in the kitchen, the same as any phone or walk-in order. Orders don’t need to be reentered, and they’re part of your standard workflow in the kitchen.

A POS system like SpeedLine can also help set (or adjust) expectations with online customers if your delivery times suddenly change, sending an email at dispatch with an updated ETA.

Put on your customer hat, and take a fresh look at your online ordering site. And remember; your customers aren’t necessarily just like you. Ask a teen or grandmother to place an order from start to finish while you watch. You can learn a lot in a few minutes about how customers are experiencing your brand online—and maybe some new ways to increase online sales.

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Posted on Mon, Apr 23, 2018 @ 09:04 AM.
Updated on July 21, 2021 @ 9:37 PM PST.

Tags: Online Ordering, Restaurant Marketing, SpeedDine

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